SAN ANTONIO — Since 2014, the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Ride has raised nearly 10 million dollars for cancer research. This year, one San Antonio resident is taking part for the first time.
"There are just things that you've got to get comfortable with on the bike,” Chris Cowley said, pointing out some of the advanced features on his street bike he’s had to get used to. Cowley will be the first to admit that biking is not his exercise of choice.
"I've had little ladies blow right past me, I've had big heavy-set guys beat me up hills, I've had guys in their sixties just fly by me like I'm standing still,” he said. “It's very humbling."
The district sales manager for Bristol Myers-Squibb and self-described "gym rat" started training for Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer earlier this year.
"I think we started in April and I've lost 30 pounds since then and I've still probably got 60 pounds on most of the riders," he said.
He and over a hundred other employees of the pharmaceutical company are participating in the 3,000-mile, cross-country ride. Each of them dedicating their ride to a cancer patient.
"I would say almost every one of them has a story or has been impacted by cancer in some way,” he said. “Just like probably everyone you know, out there has been impacted by cancer in some way."
Cowley is riding for his father, who has recovered from cancer in the past. Since he signed up for the ride, though, his father was diagnosed again, but with a more advanced cancer.
“He's a big giant of a guy, he's over six foot four, he's, you know, big, strong man,” Cowley said. “And so, to see him go through something like this has been a little difficult to see him lose weight and go through some of the side effects that come along with cancer treatment has been a little bit difficult.”
Cowley's leg of the ride will be 225 miles over three days.
"When I talked to them about riding 80 miles, that's not a huge feat,” he said. “But riding 80 Miles three days in a row is where things get pretty tough.”
But he said whatever they go through on the road will be nothing compared to what cancer patients go through during their treatment.
"If my dad, if other cancer patients can get to the clinic and be there for an eight hour treatment, I can get up and do a three hour bike ride," Cowley said.
the ride will benefit the V-Foundation for cancer research.