Note: Please bear with me on this one. This is a rush job and I plan to clean it up and add pictures later. It may be a little incoherent at times but here is my best shot.
This blog goes way back. 8 Days and 450 miles ago we started riding in Baton Rouge. We wanted to get a jump start on the mileage between Baton Rouge and Memphis so we rode about 55 miles through the back country of Louisiana. At one point that day the pavement disappeared and we were off road for .3 miles. Fortunately the bike map warned us of this so we were ready for it and it wasn’t a problem. After a few more miles we passed some good ‘ol boys on ATV’s. I saw something totally sweet and slammed on the brakes to take a picture, Dad was riding behind me and could not stop in time and slammed into the back of me and fell over. Dad was alright but the good ‘ol boys came to see if we were alright. We told them what we were up to and had a chat before moving on.
That night we picked up Alessandro and Adriano from the airport in Baton Rouge, took them back to the campground for a bite to eat and then took them to their hotel so they could catch a few winks.
The next day we packed up camp including 6 people, 2 bikes, and 2 trikes. We picked up A & A (adding 2 more people)at the hotel and drove an hour to the spot where we left off the day before. By this time it was about 11am and we had 55 miles to go to get to Natchez with rain threatening the whole day. Many hills later we made it to Natchez, damp and tired.
The next day we started out at the very beginning of the Natchez Trace. Years ago the Natchez Indians used this route to get from north to south in this area. This route became a known route in the area and was used by white traders, hunters, outlaws, barneys etc. The soil in the area is so soft that the trace settled almost 20 ft in some areas due to the heavy traffic over the years. Now it is a beautiful parkway with great roads and very little traffic. At one point the road surface quality was less than spectacular and we slowed down for a bit. When the road changed back again, we all let out a collective AAAHHHHHHHHHH and picked up the pace.
That night we stayed at a sweet camp ground right on the trace, there was not a hotel for miles so the A’s (Alessandro and Adriano) set up our tent and roughed it for a night. At dinner that night, we were trying to eplain the meaning of the word “stuffed” (as in, I can’t eat anymore, I’m stuffed) to Adriano. This explanation lead to an attempt to explain the meaning of the most ambiguous word in the English Language “stuff.” That was pretty funny.
The next day we got an early start right from the campground. Before we even got out of the site we discovered that I had a flat tire. So we sent the Italians ahead with a copy of the directions while we fixed the flat. It took 4 tries (you’d think we would have this figured out by now) but we finally got the air to stay in the tire. And we were off… About ten miles in to our travels we encountered a 4 way stop. The directions called out this intersection but did not say which way to turn. The next direction was a right so we turned right (does this even make sense?). About 2 miles down the road we figured out that we were on the wrong road so reluctantly we turned around (this was the first time we had backtracked since day 1). When we got back to the 4 way stop, we found Alessandro and Adriano, lost as well, they went the wrong way right out of the campground. Luckily we ended up at the same place and when we finally figured out which way was up, we continued on reaching Vicksburg, MS by about 4pm on a day that was supposed to be a short one.
That night Alessandro informed me that he and his caregiver, Adriano had decided to travel alone. In the morning, Alessandro, Adriano, Dad and I sat down to figure out what needed to be done. In the end we all decided that we (Dad, Steve, Mom, Wally, Mary and I) needed to continue on to reach our goal. So we parted ways that morning.
The next 3 days were a blurr. 55 miles then 65 then 35 and today was another 60. Smooth, flat roads with very little traffic on the Mississippi River Trail, smooth sailin’.
Today we quit biking about 60 miles south of Memphis and we are staying about 25 miles north of that. We set ourselves up to have a couple of easy days (25 mi and 35 mi) to cruise into Memphis. A few good friends are going to show up tonight, Jim, Kim and Kele Dobrinski and Lyle and Joyce Miller. They are going to help us celebrate as we roll in!
As we count down to the end of this trip, I want to draw attention to the goal of this crazy adventure. The main goal has always been to raise awareness for Ataxia which is a huge part of my life and the lives of many others. Amother goal of this trip has been to draw attention to the many research projects that are aiming to better understand the cause of this disease.
The outcome of this trip is beyond my wildest dreams. The following is an excerpt from a recent Friedriech's Ataxia Research Alliance and the National Ataxia Foundation:
The National Ataxia Foundation and Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance will establish a Kyle Bryant Fund with matching grants to provide $100,000 for preclinical Friedreich's ataxia research. Details of that effort will be announced at a celebration honoring Bryant at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, in Heritage I at the Memphis Marriott Downtown hotel, 250 North Main Street.
The amazing thing is that these two organizations are combining their knowlege and drive to work together to "stop Ataxia."