A week and a half ago I was able to experience my first rideATAXIA event in Davis, California. I could summarize the whole occasion in one word: “AMAZING”. Organized rides are somewhat new to me, although, in comparison to the few that I have participated in this year already, my hunch is that rideATAXIA just may be the best supported, non-professional (as in le tour) ride there is, not to mention one that is filled with quite possibly some of the nicest (guaranteed better than le tour) and most supportive people you will ever meet.
The two break/snack stations along our 40 mile route were fully stocked with the perfect ride edibles, beverages, sunblock, and friendly faces. Really, there was enough stuff there to undo and then some all of the calories being burnt from the ride itself. The first station could have used a little refinement in location, only on account of being placed so far back. Being away from the road is a great thing, but it involved a large distance of gravel to trek across for all the roadies with their skinny tires and bike shoes. Thankfully, I had swapped out my tires for the heavy-duty/more durable variety a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to pedal across the gravel
without concern. If I were still running the stock tires that came on my Catrike 700, I don’t know that I could have made it to the food station. Without my sidestix strapped on the trike, or a wheelchair handy, I don’t get off the trike unless I can park right next to a wall, table, etc. (bathrooms/honey buckets), and if that option is not available, I have to rely on other people to grab and bring me back the precious fuel (this is actually an extremely common situation at every organized ride I’ve been a part of). The SAG support was so good, that at times, during the 2nd half of the ride I likened them to circling buzzards just waiting for someone to drop, but in a good way, shouting encouragements and asking if we needed any sunscreen, water, etc. Location wise, we were treated to nice, non-busy roads through California farmland, and up through the 40 mile route, the only hills encountered were a couple of overpasses.
In terms of directions, every turn was brilliantly marked by clear, visibly color-coded arrow stickers on the road. The local rides I’ve been part of here in Portland could learn from this simple way of marking the ride, the general concept up here has been that of a heard of lemmings. I managed to recruit 5.5 (Wesley in the trailer counts for at least .5 people) others to join me for the 40 mile route: Greta, my lovely wife, her parents, Dan and Pam, Todd, my brother, and Tyler, one of my best way back friends, pulling his “40 lb hunk of love” 2 year old in a trailer. Turns out it had been a year since Tyler had been on the bike, and I was a little concerned that 40 miles might be a bit of a stretch for him, Greta, Dan, and Pam, but they all pulled it off amazingly well, finishing strong. My brother, Todd, is a bit of an avid cyclist, and took off part way to knock out the extra 20 miles of hills that made-up the 60 mile route, then joined back-up with us at the 2nd rest station.
It was extremely meaningful to have these teammates riding with and supporting me for the event! If I’m able to do the ride again next year (I am going to make it a priority), my goal is to tackle the 60 mile route as well. Teammates, you have been warned! As it is, I was feeling pretty good (and grateful) to be an ataxian cranking out the 40 miles, and I felt really good reeling in and passing some of the early bloomers on their uprights before the finish.
There was no competition, track times, or standings, just a supportive group of like-minded individuals supporting and living with ataxia, having a lot of fun! There is a common, unstoppable feeling of freedom among those of us with ataxia when we first get on a trike and realize that we can reclaim our bodies for exercise and riding. Ataxia, you can’t keep us down.
Overall, rideATAXIA NorCal raised north of $100k this year, directly supporting The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), and you helped Team #imnotdeadyet contribute $1585 to that effort. As well, a couple of you dear people made personal donations to kippitmoving.com and covered the fuel expense for Greta and I to make it down to NorCal to participate this year! Deepest gratitude to everyone whole supported me, every other participant, and to Kyle Bryant and his team at rideATAXIA for making this event possible. We’ll be back, and stay tuned, I’m inspired and starting to think of an event we can do here in the Northwest!