Ride For Alzheimer's Home View the 1999 Photo Album On to the first ride day!

I first began to think about doing a long-distance bike ride in the fall of 1998. I considered myself to be a bit more intense than the average cyclist, because during the warmer weather, I like to ride 150-200 miles per week with moderate intensity. Also, I might note that, because I am a seventh grade math teacher (30 years at Ledyard Middle School), I am fortunate enough to have the time to properly train for and complete this type of long ride.

I had difficulty making the decision and financial commitment for this ride largely because my wife, Donna, and I are such soul mates and we don't like being apart for more than a few days. However, as the deadline for registration came closer, I had an inspirational feeling that led to my decision to "do it".

At the time, my mother, Ruth Clark, lived with my sister in North Sullivan, ME. Mom was already well into the third stage of Alzheimer's disease, and my sister, Jean Warren, was caregiver to our Mom. At the same time Jeanne had a full-time job as Administrative Secretary for the Sumner High School Adult Education program. She has been totally committed to her job and our mother's care, and I felt that I just had to do something. So, I decided to do the ride and raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. I realized that the results of my effort would not directly affect our mother, but it would help many other families that have a loved one who is afflicted with this terrible, degenerative disease.

At first I really did not realize how much recording and record-keeping would be necessary, but I soon found out. I first had to set a goal -- this was difficult. I felt quite certain that I could raise $2,000, so I established that as my goal, and $5,000 was my "pie in the sky" goal.

Then I needed to get my message out by creating a request for donations letter, then hand deliver or mail it to friends, relative, neighbors, colleagues, members of our church, friends at World Gym, members of our Pequot Cyclists Bike Club, etc. I then contacted the Alzheimer's Association to let them know what I wanted to do, and Al Harary, Director of CT South Central Region was absolutely delighted. The Association helped me out with postage and copying costs. This was a big help since I sent out over 350 letters.

Help and support from my wife Donna was critically important. I am known to be quite disorganized at times, and a creator of "piles" of stuff. (Although one wouldn't get that idea from my neat, weed-free, carefully tended vegetable garden) Donna did so much for me - addressing, collating, mailing, creating and maintaining our spreadsheet of donors, and much more.

Training time "in the saddle" was an essential part of my preparation. There are three things to be concerned about, and you need to get them all ready: your legs, your neck and your crotch! The five or six weeks prior to my ride, I was doing 200 - 250 miles per week to prepare, and this turned out to be perfectly adequate. I probably could have been prepared by doing a bit less.

As donations started to come in at the beginning of May, and the amount quickly approached and exceeded $2,000, it became clear that I might reach $4,000 and maybe my "pie in the sky". One week prior to my departure I passed $5,000! I was so proud and pleased that so many people were being so generous. Many Pequot Cyclists sent me donations - and I've never even met most of them. Wow! Every day I came home from school and approached my mailbox with anxious anticipation, and usually there was one or more donations, sometimes totaling over $100. I would sit in my car and open the letters, and as I read the notes and good luck wishes, I'd get a smile on my face and a warm satisfying feeling in my heart. So many wonderful people!!! Many notes mentioned that a family member had or had passed away from Alzheimer's disease.

My "large plane" flight to Pittsburgh and "small plane" flight to Erie were both smooth and uneventful. That was a big plus because I get quite nervous in an airplane. That may seem strange to those who know I spent 6 years in the Navy and served on diesel and nuclear powered submarines. I guess I don't mind being under the ocean, but do mind being up in the sky. There were some problems assembling my bike in Erie. (I had shipped it UPS.) The mechanic accidentally ripped the wires out of my computer. It was temporarily fixed, but later died on Day 4 of the ride.

This 620 mile ride was the sixth stage of a cross country ride being run by America By Bicycle in Atkinson, NH. My registration fee covered AAA accommodations every night, breakfast and dinner every day (we ordered off the menu, so ate a lot and we needed it) and full mechanical support on the road. Every day's ride included a SAG stop and 2 roving vans that provided the mechanical assistance if needed.

Every day began the same: 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, 6:00 luggage loaded on the truck, 6:15 breakfast, 7:00 on the road.

Ride For Alzheimer's Home View the 1999 Photo Album On to the first ride day!

This page written and maintained by Ed Bareiss