Thursday morning, August 26th, 2010, started off in a wonderful way. Unlike the last 8 weeks in St. Louis and the rest of Missouri where the high temperatures were averaging 95-100 with similar humidity, it was an absolutely perfect day for riding. After a nice breakfast with our wonderful crew of Evan, Melanie, and Glen, we started with a signing event in the state capital of Missouri, Jefferson City. It was well attended by staff from the local Alzheimer’s Association as well as some press.
Our secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, made August 26th, “Breakthrough for Alzheimer’s disease day” in the State of Missouri and encouraged all Missourians to support Alzheimer’s disease research. We were presented with a nice plaque from her office and the proclamation was read out loud. This moment was particularly poignant for me, as I have been doing research on Alzheimer’s disease now for 20 years as well as diagnosing and treating patients and their families.
I was very motivated by Bruce Lamb’s idea to raise awareness with Congress, but also to honor my father who has suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for the last 10 years and passed away exactly 2 weeks to the day before my ride. Brad Racette, a Professor of Neurology at Washington University and a Parkinson’s disease researcher, and I then began our ride along the Missouri river in Jefferson City. It was an amazing scene as there was fog coating the river and yet you could see the dome of the Missouri capital sticking out over the fog at our start. While Brad is well known for his epidemiological research on Parkinson’s, he is better known in Missouri as one of the best bikers in the state. So, having biked with Brad the weekend before, we teamed up for the first 20 miles of completely flat road by “drafting”. Brad, being a stronger rider, mostly led but we switched a few times. By doing this, we did the first 20 miles in one hour. While that felt great, the next 60 miles were predominantly hills.
While Missouri isn’t known for “mountains,” the southern half is known as the Ozarks, a word derived from the French, “aux arcs,” meaning “in the hills.” While the hills were challenging, it was really fun and we both finished feeling great. We had wonderful rest stops to keep hydrated and fueled up with the help of Evan, Melanie, and Glen. My wife Tracy and our dog Chai joined us at the rest stops and offered great moral support (Evan wanted to take Chai along for the rest of the Breakthrough ride). The scenery was beautiful as we crossed to the south side of the Missouri river into Hermann, Missouri.
Set on bluffs overlooking the river, this area was settled by Germans in the early to mid 1800’s and they started making wine. It is a very popular spot to go on an autumn afternoon and enjoy the Hermann wineries and listen to music. Look out Napa Valley!
The second 40 miles from Hermann to Washington Missouri remained challenging with rolling hills and a little more traffic, but with our crew shielding us from behind with their cars, we were in good hands. I want to personally thank all the riders representing team “Mo-Kan throwdown” from Washington University and its ADRC (John Cirrito, Howard Palmer, Jessica Restivo, Brad Racette, Tim Miller, Arun Varadhachary), Tim West (C2N Diagnostics), the University of Kansas (Jeff Burns), Missouri State (Ben Timson), the Alzheimer’s Association (David Oliver), and last but not least, our rider organizer (Krista Moulder from Wash U/ADRC).
-David Holtzman, MD, Professor and Chair of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine