Feature: Cienna Taylor, Texas 4000

It’s been a while since I’ve featured someone on Lincoln Park Minute but I certainly haven’t stopped meeting incredible people. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with Cienna Taylor, a former DePaul student, current UT Austin student, and Texas 4000 participant. 
Though Cienna can often be found reading in a coffee shop, hiking, or pinning recipes on Pinterest she’ll never actually try to make, you can also catch her training for Texas 4000 this upcoming summer. What is Texas 4000 exactly? As Cienna told me, “[It] is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and
student organization at UT Austin. It is an 18 month leadership development
program that culminates in a 4,500 plus mile bike ride from Austin, Texas to
Anchorage, Alaska to raise money for cancer research and support programs.” 
If you read that and were as shocked as me, you probably read it right. 4,500 plus miles on a bike? This girl is crazy, determined, and has such a good heart which is why she fits in perfectly here. Click read more to hear about Cienna, her story, and Texas 4000.

LPM: Tell us why you decided to be part of Texas 4000?
CT: We start every meeting, workout and ride with
a ride dedication circle and share with each other “Why I Ride.” Stop to think
if you know anyone who has been affected in some capacity by cancer. I did this when I
considered applying and within a minute I had thought of 10 people who had
fought themselves or were the support system for someone who was fighting.
I applied to honor Rosie, a 12 year old I met while
attending DePaul University who has been battling since she was three and is
the strongest person I have ever met. I also ride for Joey, who I have known since growing up in
Boerne, Texas. The summer before I
applied, Joey was diagnosed and it completely turned his life upside down. This
is when I knew I had to do something and decided concretely to apply to T4K. I
ride for those who have fought and lost the battle, celebrate those who have
survived, support those who are currently fighting, and fundraise to support
research for those who have yet to be diagnosed. Joey and Rosie inspired me to fight, and
I continue to ride for those who have lost or seen a
loved one endure it or be that support for someone who has experienced it first
LPM: What route will you be riding and how long
will it take? What major stops will you be making?
CT: With T4K being a leadership development
program, I am humbled to have been selected as the Travel Chair for the Ozarks
route. Our team has 3 routes: Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks. The ride itself takes
70 days, we average 70-100 miles a day on the bike and on the 60th day all
routes reunite. We ride the Alaska highway together into Anchorage. Every year
the route changes slightly and this year, Ozarks 2017 will be go to Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis,
Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, and across Canada. I am overjoyed to return to
Chicago and have the opportunity to give back to the city that taught me so
much. We leave Austin on June 3rd and will reach Alaska on August 11th.
LPM: Have you always been a biker or is it
something you took on specifically for this?
CT: I have never been a cyclist but biking is
something I have always enjoyed doing but never pursued as a serious
activity.  Prior to T4K, my significant
experience on a bike is when I attended DePaul and I took a class called
“Biking and Politics.” As a class we rode 50 miles and I was sore for a week!
Until two weeks ago, I had never clipped into a bike.
LPM: How
have you been prepping mentally and physically?
CT: As a T4K rider we are required to log 2,000
miles on the bike. The fall semester we have had weekly workouts and mandatory
6:30 a.m. Saturday workouts which are slowly transitioning to Saturday rides in order
to get us comfortable on the bike. We take safety very seriously and are
learning and implementing the safety techniques we learn on every ride, including signaling and
following all traffic laws.
Mentally, it is much more difficult. However, I
have learned that through writing I am able to process my emotions and begin to
understand what I am feeling. I also have 82 teammates who are enduring the
same thing that I can lean and rely on. We have three routes but we are one
team spreading one mission, fighting cancer every mile.

LPM: In what ways do you plan on staying
fashionable while on the road? Any favorite pieces you have to wear?
CT: HELMET HAIR IS A THING! So, I have found that
my Buff is a lifesaver since it can act as a headband, scarf, or scrunchie. Its
versatility and lightweight demeanor is awesome and it has UV protection so Buffs are a win-win. Since we wear our Texas 4000 jersey and padded bike shorts
for the extra cushion, we can really show off our personality through our
socks! A wool blend sock to keep my feet warm when we ride in the rain or hit
colder climates is the dream. I keep things festive and wear socks that fit the
season. Last weekend, I wore some awesome ghost socks and for the holidays I
can’t wait to wear my elf socks (they have little ears on them). My favorite
item is my Garmin Forerunner 235 watch. It is a great way to track my fitness, mileage and see my average pace to see where I can improve as
a rider. The best part? It matches my bike!
LPM: Where do you see yourself in the future?
Do you think you’ll do this again?
CT: Texas 4000 is a once in a lifetime opportunity
and I am lucky enough to partake in it. Alumni riders come back and talk about
how they grew from the ride and encourage everyone when they come back to “find
their next Alaska” and to remember that Texas 4000 isn’t the best thing
they will accomplish. I am unsure where life will
take me or what my next “Alaska” will be but wherever I land up I hope to take
what I learned and how I grew to make a positive impact on those around me.
Along with training, Cienna has to fundraise a minimum of $4,500 or one dollar per mile but being the goal-setter she is, she is aiming to raise $20,000 and has so far reached $4,000 of that. If you want to donate to her, click here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to here if there is anyone you would like her to ride
in memory or in honor of. You can email Cienna at taylorcienna@gmail.com and follow along with her journey through my website here.

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