In light of what those who rode before us have endured, I wish I had a tale of woe to tell, but alas, this particular segment of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Ride was nothing shy of epic riding. We had trained for all conditions…except perfection. By the mid-afternoons, it was mostly sunny and in the low 80s. The few clouds that were present had that distinct late summer softness to their contours. If it can be imagined, it was as though Ann Huston took her paintbrush to the Midwestern sky. As a cyclist though, your eyes should be on the road, and the roads we traveled were oddly smooth — a particularly lucky happenstance given that back roads in the Midwest are often abused by winter and neglected by man. Then there was the greatest gift of all — an unceasing tail wind that nudged us along 215 out of the 289 miles. The three of us shattered our previous records, reaching speeds in excess of 35 mph on the flats. We didn’t maintain this speed; we just wanted to see what was possible, so on a perfectly smooth country road about 30 miles out of Indianapolis, we let loose for just short of a ½ mile.
As if the weather and roads weren’t gift enough, we were also graced with the company of Evan, Melanie, and Glenn – the greatest Pony Express crew ever assembled. As much pain as I may experience after 290 miles of riding, I was sad to leave them and would happily have pedaled on through the next segment just to share their company for a few more days. They have been on the road for eight weeks with at best a day or two off, and yet they managed to keep us warm, keep us fed, keep us hydrated, and to keep us laughing for four days. Perhaps needless to say, they also managed to find their way into our hearts.
It isn’t of great surprise that the people associated with this ride — such as Melanie, Evan, and Glenn — would be people of exceptional spirit. It isn’t of great surprise that those of you reading this would be people of exceptional compassion. For most of us, we are all too familiar with the pain that this disease brings. But bore of this pain, is an incredible beauty and testament to the human spirit: We now stand together in hope, in faith and in action that we will bring an end to the heartbreak that is Alzheimer’s disease.
I am honored to stand amongst you in this effort and I wish us all an epic success.
– Angela Bruno is a neuroscience doctoral candidate at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS).