Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ride Ataxia NorCal - True Progress

Ride Ataxia NorCal took place on May 14, 2011 and was a day of comraderie and true progress toward our goal of treating Friedreich's ataxia (FA).  The ride included more than 300 riders who helped raise over $100,000 for FA research!

The weekend Started with packet pickup at Ken's Bike and Ski on Friday afternoon.  We set up in the parking lot at Ken's and we distributed a few packets and shopped for new bike gear in Ken's.  This was the first time everyone had been together in a year so it was great to see everyone including Team Bridgman,  Team Kiela, and The Rupeloton.

After Packet pickup we all headed over to the US Bicycling Hall of Fame (USBHOF) for a reception hosted by our generous partners at Brown and Caldwell.  At the reception we saw some really cool bikes and learned about the history of bikes.  During this intense history lesson we had appetizers by Outback Steakhouse, wine, beer, soft drinks,  and good conversation as we caught up with more friends we had not seen for a while.
Team Bridgman came down from Seattle, WA

During the reception at the USBHOF we honored a couple people including Phillip Bennett, the force behind Sunset on FA (SOFA).  Unfortunately Phillip passed away earlier this year but his spirit lives on through the 2011 Phillip Bennett Translational Research Award which will be funded with proceeds from the ride combined with funds from Phillip's memorial fund.  Find out a little more about Phillip HERE.

That night we also honored Wally and Mary Krill who have been part of the Ride Ataxia Movement since the very beginning.  Wally and Mary provided SAG support with their motor home during Ride Ataxia I, II, III, and they were among the biggest contributors in the planning and execution for Ride Ataxia NorCal 2010.  They received the 2011 Ride Ataxia SAG Award for their dedication too the advancement of the Ride Ataxia Program.
Wally, Mary, Kyle
The next morning registration opened at 730am with bagels, granola bars, fruit, coffee, juice...anything you need to start the day off right.  In the end we registered 40 people the day of the event bringing our total number of registrants to more than 300.

The 50 mile route and the metric century (actually 68 miles :) started at 8:30 am after a few words reminding the riders why we were making this effort.  We reminded each rider to have fun but more importantly to realize that each pedal stroke gets us closer to treatments and a cure.

The 30 milers took off at 9:15 and the 15 milers took off at 10:30.  This map shows how all the routes relate to each other:

As you can see, the 30 (red), the 50 (blue), and the 100k (Black; actually 68 miles) all overlap at the rest stop in Winters.  This stop was killer!  Lots of food and lots of friends as all the routes cycled through that point.  You could ride the 30 miler and see a friend who was on the 100k, it was a lot of fun!

Our riders were well taken care of at this rest stop and at the three others throughout the routes.  There was more than enough food thanks to one person and his many friends and business partners.  Greg Mazeres works for UCDavis Dining Services and he rallied all his vendors to support the cause with in-kind donations for our rest stops.  This ride is frequently referred to as Ride A-Snacks-ia because of the huge spread that Greg provides.  Most participants consumed more calories than they burned because the food was so tasty and plentiful.  Thank you Greg!

One of our special guests who came out to ride with us was Dr. Gino Cortopassi from UC Davis.  Gino received a grant funded by Ride Ataxia in 2009 for his work on "Screening For Multifunctional Friedreich's Ataxia Therapeutics".  This project has produced some very positive results and is contributing to pushing treatments forward.  Dr. Cortopassi just got back from the 4th International Friedreich's Ataxia Scientific Conference in Strasbourg, France but jet lag was not going to keep him off his bike that day.  Gino is a strong part of our FA community.

Also pushing the effort that day was a huge showing of volunteers.  Our volunteers included members of the Iota Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega from UC Davis who provided assistance to riders at tricky turns and helped us out with registration.

We also had lots of volunteers at each rest stop serving food and making sure the riders got everything they needed to keep riding for research!

Our Sag crew consisted of 3 bike mechanics (two mobile and one stationary at the winters stop) and 7 roving cars plus one motorcycle.  There was assistance close by the entire time if any of the riders ever got in trouble.  The mechanics fixed many flats and repaired several bikes and the rovers gave a few rides to riders who needed it.

Leading our SAG effort was Lee Mitchell in his famous red Bike Van.  Lee is a legend in the Ultracycling world.  We met Lee when we were preparing for Race Across America and Lee has been a great friend ever since.  Lee has been providing SAG for an event in the Bay Area for 10 years and it happened to be on the same day as NorCal this year.  Lee decided to use his expertise for FARA that day and for that we are ever grateful:
Photo courtesy of Ultracycling Hall of Fame
Our mobile mechanics included Mad Cat Bicycles:

Here are some of our riders in action:

After the ride we enjoyed an incredible meal of ribs with all the fixin's from our partners at Outback Steakhouse.

Plus a short talk about research and the role of fundraising in the process of curing this disease.  With comments from one of the brilliant people who is actually performing the research, Dr. Gino Cortopassi.

Ride Ataxia Nor Cal is not only part of the national Ride Ataxia movement to fund research in search of treatments and a cure for FA, Nor Cal is the home of this effort. So many in the Nor Cal community have supported Ride Ataxia since our very first ride in 2007 and have ridden with us repeatedly in subsequent rides. People throughout California, and from Washington, and Montana. Thank you all for being the force behind this movement- for coming out year after year, for growing the event to your family and friends, and for fundraising with a big heart. Each of you have made an impact in my life and are postively affecting the lives of thousands of families with FA. Can't wait to see you and ride with you next year!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Discounts for NorCal riders!

Attention NorCal riders!  Looking for equipment deals in preparation for the ride on May 14?  For the entire week leading up to the ride, Ken's Bike and Ski will be offering our riders 15% off their lowest posted price on any cycling accessories, and 5% off their lowest posted price on any bike.

Check them out any time that week or we'll see you there for packet pickup May 13 from 4pm - 530pm!

To find out more about Ride Ataxia NorCal or to sign up or donate please visit the Ride Ataxia NorCal event website.