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.

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.

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