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rideATAXIA Blog

In January 2007, rideAtaxia was born when Kyle Bryant and his father began their 2,500 mile, 60 day cycling journey from San Diego to Memphis, TN to raise awareness and funds for FA research. Now functioning as a program of the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), rideATAXIA offers single day, challenging and family fun bike rides at locations all across the USA. From firsthand accounts of Kyle’s inaugural journey to the most recent news about our annual bike rides, the evolution of rideAtaxia is chronicled in this blog.


The Rupeleton Rides Strong Again

“The rides make me feel like we’re part of an incredible team and that we can really make a difference and find a treatment and eventually a cure for FA”

Santa Clara, CA – Determined as ever to forge ahead as a “normal” family, the Rupel family is faced with unique challenges that most families have never even heard of. Bart (age 50) and Brenda (51) have a son, Matt (23) with a rare, neuromuscular, genetic condition called Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). Their daughter Katie (20) is also carrier of the gene.

Matt was diagnosed 10 years ago, when he was just in 8th grade. While other middle-school kids were worrying about fitting in, Matt and his family were beginning an epic battle.

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NorCal 2014 dedicated to Lee Mitchell

Sometimes it takes someone who has traveled the road before you to show you the way. In early 2009 I had a dream to do Race Across AMerica (RAAM) - a 3,000 mile nonstop bike race with over 100,000 feet of climbing. For the race I recruited a team of 3 friends, one of whom also has Friedreich's ataxia (FA) - the energy deprivation disease that is supposed to keep us from accomplishing things like this. It was a monumental task and I knew I would need lots of help. So I put out the call and got an overwhelming response from friends and family. However none of us knew about ultra cycling much less how to survive "The World's Toughest Bike Race."

I had incredible support from many, many, familiar people but it was a stranger who was the key to our success. We met Lee Mitchell at an informational seminar for RAAM riders and crew where we learned everything from proper nutrition, to crew schedules, to all of the rules to keep us safe. The seminar only served to add to the overwhelming stress of the logistics of RAAM. At the seminar I sat next to a skinny guy with a big white beard and red socks. I had no idea who he was but when he spoke, everyone listened. This guy had been a crew chief on RAAM for over 20 years and could tell a story about any "what if?" that anyone could think of. I am pretty sure he sensed my mounting stress throughout the seminar so he offered his phone number and he said he would send me his info pack.

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Maximizing Our Impact - Ride Ataxia Relocation; Portland to Seattle

In the past two years our Northwest location,  Ride Ataxia Portland, has been very successful with strong participation and fundraising - over $115,000 raised for Friedreich's ataxia (FA) research! Portland has also shown us huge support from partners such as University of Portland, Oregon Disability Sports, Incight, and Sauvie Island Academy.

We are constantly seeking opportunities to grow the ride and raise more awareness and research funds. During the past year we have come upon the opportunity for potential ride growth by moving the Northwest location to Seattle. It was a challenging decision to move the ride--- one that we wrestled with for over a year. We will hold Ride Ataxia Seattle on August 3, 2014 in an effort to grow in ridership, fundraisers and sponsors.

Registration for Ride Ataxia Seattle is now open and we invite you to check it out at, register, and come ride with us as we continue the push toward a treatment and cure for Friedreich's ataxia (FA).

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Ride Ataxia 2013 Reflection

This article is from The Advocate newsletter.  Read the entire newsletter here:

Young Family’s Involvement Is A Team Effort

At Ride Ataxia Chicago 2013, the Young family recruited the largest team in Ride Ataxia history. Team Emily consisted of 76 riders from their central Illinois hometown of Gibson City, which has a population of about 3,400. “We have been here our whole lives and have made some amazing friends so we are able to bring together a lot of people for the ride,” says Emily’s mom, Becky Young.

The strong community support goes beyond the impressive team numbers. “It is important for Emily to know that she has support. We have not been going through this on our own. When you are first diagnosed you go through that period of shock and disbelief. Then it has time to absorb and it just makes you realize how important today is — we try to live for today. After we let it sink in we decided we want to be proactive and that’s what led us to FARA.”

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Ride Ataxia Remembers Garrett Timbie

Ride Ataxia's success is rooted in many families coming together as one team to ride and raise funds for FA research. At the heart of each family is someone who rallies the family members to action. The family volunteers to scout ride routes; they train for long distances; they fundraise and they get up before dawn to staff the first rest stop. They enthusiastically participate to do their part in changing the research landscape for Friedreich's ataxia. One such family is the Timbie Family, and they do it out of love for their son, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend- Garrett.

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