Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Alzheimer's Breakthrough Ride Journal: Segment 6, Day 3
Day three of our ride started out with a shocking time change, so instead of our regular wake-up time of 5am it was actually 4am. We crawled out of the hotel and onto our bikes, but not until we had met with a group of 20 elementary school children in Ramah, NM. We talked about the brain, and Alzheimer's disease, and why we're riding. The children had made a big sign saying "YOU CAN DO IT" to send us on our way. I must admit they had more enthusiasm for today's ride than I did. The first two hours were brutal -- sleep deprived, upset stomach, tired legs -- and another 1,000 ft elevation gain. But the reward was the summit at the Continental Divide, elevation 8,000, which is the highest point on the entire ride. We all took pictures and acted silly, and then started our long descent. Bliss is descending on a 5% grade after two full days of uphill at speeds reaching 35 miles per hour. We're now in Grants, New Mexico, and feeling great. Such beautiful sweeping countryside, this is truly heaven on earth. Ready and excited for the final 75 miles tomorrow into Albuquerque.
I just visited the Breakthrough Ride website and posted a note there, and read through the many comments that have been added over the past few days. It is so moving to read the comments from people all over the country who have shared their stories about family and friends dealing with this terrible disease. They are stories of sorrow, but also of courage and fortitude, shout-outs of hope and encouragement in this fight. I am honored to be a part of this adventure. To those of you who have written in, thank you. I study Alzheimer's in the laboratory, I teach undergraduates and graduate students (the researchers of tomorrow) about Alzheimer's disease, and I have many opportunities to speak to community groups about aging, memory, and AD. But I know that the real experts out there are you -- the people dealing every day with this disease, either yourself, or by caring for someone with AD. You know this disease as no one else ever will. And make no mistake -- we're doing this for you.
On to a cure!
Lee Ryan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Psychology, University of Arizona