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, March 31, 2008

Cyclists

We've been remiss for not introducing the cyclists involved in this endeavor. With all the pedalling, it's been hard to find the time needed to properly give credit to these wonderful people. Here goes...

When we started at the capitol, there were over 50 riders! Some had ataxia, although most were friends and family of those affected.

Here's Kyle (in the middle), his dad (on the left) and Sean (on the right), giving everyone the starting pep talk, along with the appropriate safety information:

Kyle is the originator of this ride, starting it last year with Ride Ataxia I. His dad, Mike, rode with him last year and was very involved in the ride this year. Sean was just diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia last year. He met Kyle recently and helped significantly in organizing the ride this year. All three of them did the entire ride this year.

Once we got on the road, the large group began spreading out into smaller mini-teams, naturally separating the riders of different speeds. Of course, we fell right to the back, forming a group of people that were "enjoying themselves," not trying to set some kind of record. Here's our group, from left to right; Linda, David Henry (Spinner), Paul Konanz, and Angela. Andy took the picture.Spinner has Ataxia (a sporadic form), and stayed with our group during the entire journey. He rode about 400 miles last year with Kyle, and he was very patient to slow down with us and smell the roses. Paul is very active in the ataxia community; his daughter (Brianne) has Friedreich's Ataxia. He rode with us the first day and had so much fun that he returned for the last day as well. Angela is Kyle's cousin. She rode with us for four days.

Here's our group arriving at the campground at the end of the first day:

Here's Spinner. He's from Texas. Disregard the sign - he's one of the most friendly, patient, laid-back guys we've met. We very-much enjoyed his company and hope the feeling is mutual!

This is Angela, with her company's logo on her helmet (they helped sponsor her):

This is the Bryant clan. As in Kyle Bryant. From left to right, Neal and Libby (Kyle's uncle and aunt), Jina (Kyle's sister-in-law), Angela (Kyle's cousin who you've already met), Steve (Kyle's uncle), Dianne (Kyle's mother), Kyle, Mike (Kyle's father), and Collin (Kyle's brother). Neal and Libby rode about half the trip. Jina, Collin, Steve, Mike, and Kyle rode the entire trip. Dianne provided support (lots of it).

Here's Tess (with Linda), who became another one of our good friends. She lives in Sacramento and works (and is friends) with Kyle. She rode the entire trip, and was our roommate for a lot of it.

And now for the "Speedy Boys." This is Sean, Luke, Mike, and Travis:

All of these guys are friends of Sean's and rode the whole trip. Luke came all the way from Germany. Linda thought these guys were beautiful. Tess agreed. Some days the Speedy Boys would even wear matching outfits. Whether they did or not, they rode like a real bicycle team, staying in a line and drafting off each other. They'd leave long after we did, pass by us, and arrive at the hotel well before us. It was all good though - we don't hold their speed against them!

This is Collin (Kyle's brother), his wife Jina, and Uncle Steve:

All three of them rode the whole trip and were fun to be around! Steve is from Montana and has one or maybe two bionic knees. Collin and Jina are newlyweds living in California.

Bart arrived just in time to climb Tehachapi, and he rode the rest of the trip. Here he is introducing himself to the Speedy Boys, with the apparent hope of joining their team:

Beth Bax, her husband Eric, and her sister Edie joined us for one day, riding from Wasco to Bakersfield. Beth has Friedreich's Ataxia.

John rode with us the first day and the second half of the ride. He was a fit rider, and was always ahead of us somewhere. Another very friendly guy.


Amy, Tom, Sam, and Max joined us after Tehachapi. They drove all night from Seattle to meet up with us. Sam has Friedriech's Ataxia and just bought a trike about a month ago. They all did great and were a lot of fun. Unfortunately we don't have a good picture of them.

Here's the group of riders that rode in on the last day into Las Vegas.

There were plenty of other riders that joined us off and on, like Chuck, Lance, Susie, and more. Everyone was so friendly and fun, and we'll surely miss them all. Thanks to everyone, and GREAT JOB!!!

1 comment:

  1. The feeling is ... more than mutual - you guys rock!

    ReplyDelete