We're Linda and Andy Johnson, from Cazenovia, New York. What began as a blog about a bike ride has become a story about our ride through life, trying to overcome a disease that has had a huge impact on us and on many of our friends.

Our journey began in 2007, when Kyle Bryant originated the idea of Ride Ataxia - riding his three-wheeled cycle from San Diego to the annual National Ataxia Foundation meeting in Memphis. It took two months to get there, and in the process he raised $40,000 to fund Ataxia research and he raised awareness of the disease like no one has before. Well he rode to the annual meeting again in 2008 and we joined him! We left from Sacramento and arrived in Las Vegas two weeks and 650 miles later.

You see Linda also has Friedreich's Ataxia. This inherited disease causes the nerves of the body to deteriorate. Linda (and Kyle) can still walk at this point, but it's getting much more difficult. In addition, speech gets slurred, finger dexterity suffers, and other serious complications can develop as time goes on.

The good thing is that research is more promising than ever! Several drugs are going through trials at this time, with other significant research taking place as you read this. There has never been a better time to contribute to this research! Let's cure this disease - for Linda, for the rest of the Ride Ataxia team, and for all of the others afflicted with this disease!

Enjoy our blog! Feel free to write to us any time. Check out the links in the right column below to read more about the disease and our adventures. And if nothing else, be sure to take the seven minutes to watch FARA's video - we couldn't say it better ourselves.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Newspaper

Andy writes:

Our story made the paper today! Yeah! It's in the Post Standard (that's the big Syracuse paper).

Here it is: Post Standard Story.

C.J. (the writer) did a great job. It looks even better in the paper - the front page of the Madison County section (almost full page) with our picture and a map of the route. Pretty cool! Thanks C.J.!

Snow

Andy writes:

Can't do much riding when it looks like this outside:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Outside

Linda writes:

Sunday afternoon was sunny and a whopping 31 degrees outside. So we went out for an afternoon ride (Rt 13 from Caz towards Delphi and back). We rode 20 miles in about two and half hours. That was the longest we've ridden outside. By the time we were back our toes were freezing ... correction ... frozen! The reward for braving the cold ... I went in the hot tub with Kelly ... and Andy got to work on a science fair project with Brian (and Brian's friend, Lee) ... something about guitar picks and oscilloscope measurements. A good time for all!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Goal and Workout Update!

Linda writes:

WOW! Thanks to everyone, we've met the $15,000 goal! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! So now ... we're going to try and reach $20,000! Gotta love a goal!

We continue to ride 1 -2 hours almost every night thinking about all the good that will come out of this ... and watching, yet more, Myth Busters! I was interviewed yesterday for an article in our local paper, The Cazenovia Republican! And next week I have an interview with the local TV station, WSYR! A real-life celebrity! Look out Paris Hilton!

Most sincere thanks to everyone for your outstanding support!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Weekend Off - Almost

Andy writes:

We went up to Winterlude in Ottawa for a long weekend with 2 other families. Winterlude in Ottawa includes ice skating ~ seven miles on the frozen canal (Linda rides in a sleigh that I get to push), body sledding, elaborate ice sculptures, and two-story high snow sculptures! This year we were fortunate enough to be able to book a sheet ("lane" to normal people) at the Ottawa Curling Club! Everyone learned the rules and got to try it out! (Linda was the "official" photographer).


When we went to leave this morning, I discovered it was over 50 degrees at home, so we hurried off and made it home in time to get on the bikes for a quick ride outside before dark. We rode six miles in 40 minutes (nine miles an hour). Unfortunately the temperature had dropped to 35 degrees by the time we got out there. We were happy with our progress though, and Linda welcomed the opportunity to practice shifting, braking, and steering.

The generous donations continue and so does our thankfulness! Thank you!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Training Ride

Andy writes:

What a day! The team in California is going to do a 60 mile training ride in a couple of weeks, and since we won't make it out there for that we decided to do our own training ride right here. Today was the day! Of course we can't ride 60 miles outside very easily this time of year, so we were stuck in the house. We figured if we rode for six hours that would be about like riding 60 miles. It's clearly a lot different inside than outside, but it was the best we could do. So we both rode for six hours today. And I'm talking six hours of pedalling. We took breaks and ate lunch and everything, but that was off the clock. In fact there wasn't even any coasting - it really was six hours of actual pedalling! At least we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery - 3 "Myth Busters" shows and 2 movies - "I, Robot" and "RV". We're a little tired, but I think we did pretty well. Actually, Linda fell asleep within about two minutes of lying down afterward, but that's not too unusual. Luckily we get to take the day off tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Finally Outside!

Andy writes:

We were finally able to get outside on the bikes today. It was 42 degrees and rainy, but the roads had cleared off a little so we rode four miles to check things out. We would have kept riding but it was getting dark, and the heavy fog made it a little dangerous, even with our flashing lights. The visibility was terrible. The good news, though, is that we both felt great! Granted it was only four miles, but Linda really needed to get outside with the trike and actually ride it in the real world - shifting, steering; all those things you don't do inside. Anyway, it all worked out great. After we came in we did another hour and a half inside.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Training and Equipment

Linda writes:

We haven't written much about our training, and we've come a long way with our equipment ... So here's an update:

Our training to date has been totally inside in our bedroom. We have been riding between 11 - 30 miles/day, 4 - 6 days a week.

You'll recall we both started out by taking turns on our stationary recumbent bike. Andy then purchased a "trainer," brought both his mountain bike and Brian's (our son) hybrid bike up to the bedroom; purchased new tires, a bike rack, a bike bag, water bottle holders, some tools; and mixed all the bike parts up to create "franken-bike."

After I picked up my trike, a perfect stranger (known now as David) who read about our adventure on a recumbent bike website www.bentrideronline.com (posted by another complete stranger - thank you!) sent us an email offering use of his "roller" for my trike indoors. Unbelievably, David lives 3 miles from us! We picked the roller up Saturday, and now I ride my trike in the bedroom while Andy rides his franken-bike. (And, yes, you counted correctly, there are four bikes in the bedroom, soon to be three.)

Some people say riding stationary bikes is boring ... but we have a slew of Mythbuster DVD's (thanks Mike!) and we get to watch one episode during every ride. For longer rides, we rent a movie. The kids love the Mythbuster shows, and if they're quiet, Andy and I are happy and pedaling.

Ah yes, pedaling ... We each got biking shoes and clipless pedals. Very cool ... the underside of the shoe snaps into the pedal like a strong Lego. I got them so my feet won't flail off the pedal onto the road causing serious injury. Andy got them 'cuz he's cool. (He says it allows him to pull up the pedal in addition to unconsciously pushing down.)

One minor injury ... now that I'm on my trike, using slightly different muscles, after about 30 minutes (Sat, Sun, and today) I feel a terrible pain brewing where my right leg connects to my body. Odd. Took Advil tonight and rubbed a little Bengay on it.

All for now.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Many Many Thanks!

Linda writes:

Loved, cared about, blessed, fortunate, joyful, tearful, warm and fuzzy ... All words to describe how your generous donations have made us feel! We are so thankful for the support and encouragement we have received! After just one week, you all helped us exceed our $10,000 goal!

With 8 weeks left to this adventure, we have decided to shoot for a stretch goal of $15,000 ... why not!? This way new contributors can easily see their contribution fulfilling a financial goal which will lead to the final goal of curing ataxia!

Many many thanks to everyone for your giving from the heart!