What is Doug's WILD Ride?


New Blog at Wordpress

We've moved this Blog over to Wordpress.  Please make a note of the new web address and visit our new site for great information about Doug's WILD Ride as well as his blog (all the old entries are there too).  This blogspot blog will be deleted in a week or so.


Prudhoe Bay?

So I was looking at an Alaska map, and could not help but notice the road to Prudhoe Bay starts in Fairbanks.  The distance between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay is 584 miles (941 from Anchorage).  I can do 941 miles, at least in the lower 48.  So what if the road is gravel?  And the mountain passes are 12% grades; and the map says"beware of grizzly bears in this area."  I mean what could possibly go wrong?

The problem with Prudhoe is there is precious little between FB and PB.  I mean just about nothing.  Well, there is the village of Coldfoot, pop. 13, just 260 miles north of Fairbanks.  Still, all I need is food and water.  I should be able to bring enough food to last me 260 miles. And then it's only 240 miles, or so, to Deadhorse, pop. 26. As far as finding water; there should be plenty along the way, right?

So here's my offer to my 11 Facebook Fans and 3 (1 of the 4 is a duplicate) Followers:  Find someone who will pledge $50,000 to Parkinson's, and I'll ride from Anchorage to Prudhoe.  Here are the rules:

1. The money must be in an escrow account by 6-1-10.  ( I need to start this by mid June; being above the Arctic circle in September is a no-no.)  The money will go to (50/50) Davis Phinney Foundation and the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.  The $50,000 is in addition to that raised by other sources.

2. Once I make it 100 miles past Fairbanks, and continue to make an attempt, the money is due, no matter what.  However, at 250 miles past Fairbanks, the money is absolutely due, even if I quit.  Note: This rule may need some tweeking.

3. If I am incapacitated (Ahem!) at any point on the trip the money is due.  Killed or a broken leg, it's all the same.  A mile out of Anchorage, or 10 miles from Prudhoe, it doesn't matter you owe the money.

4. I have to be notified of your intention to sponsor the FB to PB ride by May 15, 2010.  I need the time for planning.

5. The sponsor gets all book, advertising, and story rights.

That's it, five simple rules. 

Readers, please forward this to anyone you think might be in the position to help.  Let's make this happen!

P.S.  No, I haven't run this past my wife!


My Parkinson's diagnosis

Twenty five years ago, I went to my family physician.  "I can't smell.  For a while I was having olfactory hallucinations; smelling weird odors.  Now I smell nothing at all."

He looked at me and said: (honest to God) "I don't know what it is, but that's a bad sign.  You have a serious problem, but there is nothing that can be done."  And sent me home.

About nine years ago (maybe less) I went to a different family doctor.  "I don't know what it is, but I'm sure there's something wrong with me.  I don't feel as smart as I used to.  I stutter more often.  My balance is not as good as it used to be."

He looked me over and said: "You're fine!  You're too young to be going senile or have alzhiemers!  You're just imagining these things."  I walked out, wondering if I was going crazy.

About seven years ago, the week of Christmas, I was at a machine shop.  With my left hand, I picked up a forging, to examen it.  All of a sudden my left middle finger started to tremble violently.  I couldn't stop it.  I called a friend, a doctor, and told him I thought I had Parkinson's.  "It's nothing!  You worry too much!  You're just a little nervous about something; forget  about it."

Six years ago I went to a new family physician.  "I think I have PD.  My left hand will sometimes shake uncontrolably."  (You know where this is going by now, don't you?)

"No, you may have tremor, but it's not PD.  I wouldn't worry about it."

Five years ago, I was (Surprise!!) told I had PD.  "You have seven, maybe eight, good years.  Make the most out of them."

I'm trying.


The ride is only a metaphor...

of life.  Life is tough and the ride will be too.

This blog is not really about the ride.  It's about PD.  It's purpose is to open up my world to you.  To give you a pair of X-ray glasses, so you, the reader, can see what others can not.  To let you know the humilitating and humbling reality of PD.  To give you a reason to contribute your time and money to defeat the bitch known as PD.

So this is a true story:

Last week a friend and I went out to dinner.  When we went to leave, I asked her to wait while I used the men's room; I had to pee.  I went in, I was the only one there.  I stood at the urinal and tried to unzipp my pants. 

I froze.

I tried again.  I could not get my hands to work.  I could move them a little, but not enough to unzipp my pants.  I could not grasp the zipper.  I tried and tried.  By now, I was starting to dribble pee.  I tried harder to move my hands.  Nothing.  I tried to stop peeing.  No luck.

I stood there and peed my pants.   F^#k!  Nothing I could do.

I finally stopped peeing and went outside.  My friend was waiting.  "What's wrong?"

"I peed myself.  Let's go."

That, my friends, is the reality of PD.  It ain't the trembling that upsets me.  It's loosing control of my body.


Riding east on route 36 in eastern Colorado...

You come across the little town of Idalia. It's about 16 miles from the Kansas border.  I rode into Idalia at about 2:30 p.m.    I remember the time because the diner closed at 2:00; I just missed it.  It was hot: the bank's temperature said 105.  I'd been riding all day, ocassionally stopping to rest in a silo's shade, checking for rattlesnakes as I walked up to it.  Mice like silo's and rattlesnakes like mice.

I went to the towns post office and asked if I could sit in the lobby and cool down.  "Make yourself at home." said the postmaster, Terry.  As she sorted mail we talked about my ride and about her horses.  The town's only bar opened at 6:00 and I invited her for a burger and a drink.  She accepted.  About 8:00 p.m. we said good bye and I started off for Kansas.  Five miles out of town, at sunset, my rear tire was flat.

It's too bad that cursing doesn't fix a flat.  If it did I'd have been up and running again in no time.

I unloaded the bike, flipping it upside down.  Pulled the tire.  Pulled the tube and found the hole.  Traced back to the corresponding spot on the tire and checked for glass/wire or whatever caused the flat.  Found nothing.  Put a new tube in, put the whole thing together, and was about to start off when A guy on a very nice road bike came pedaling by.  A motor home was following him.  Phil was a preacher, raising money for orphans in Africa.  He sent he motor home to the town 20 some miles ahead, and we started off.  Five miles latter I had another flat.  Now it was dark. I told Phil to go ahead; I didn't want to hold him up.  "Nothing doing." he said  "I'm not leaving you alone at night in the desert with a flat."  So we fixed it together.  This time we found a piece of wire in the tire.

We rode together in the dark, talking.  His congregation, back home in New England, had paid to have his son drive the motorhome out.  Paid to fly his wife out.  Was paying to drive the motor home back.  Had paid for the fancy bike with GPS.  He averaged 100 miles a day, but he wasn't carrying anything. 

I was disgusted.  To me, it didn't seem like much of a ride.  He may as well have been riding an exercise bike in his living room.  And his congregation was out thousands of dollars for his comfort.

Oh well.  He was a better salesman than I am.  To each his own.  That's why I can't take my buddy up on his offer.  I'd rather he contribute the money to PD research.


Thoughts about wild animals

I just got off the phone with a good friend.  He offered to fly up to Alaska, rent a motorhome, and follow me so I wouldn't have to camp out.  That's a true friend!  He's worried a bear will get me.  I admit, I was tempted.  It reminded me of my Boston ride ( http://www.dougslastgreatsoloride.blogspot.com/  See "The Silver Tongue Devil")  Another friend expressed the same concern, practically begging me to bring a gun.  (I refused.)

Yes, the thought of camping by myself and encountering a bear, wolves, or moose scares me.  But I'm doing this by myself.  No motorhomes, no guns.  That's what I said I'd do, and that's what I'm going to do.  The scientest in me says I got nothing to worry about.  And I trust that part of me.


Getting ready/my friends doubts

A number of people have expressed doubts about the upcoming ride.  These can be divided into two camps: 1) Am I physically able to do it because of the Parkinson's and 2) The danger of "lions and tigers and bears." 

I'll start with that last one: Just forget it.  If you're worried about that, you've spent way too much time in the city!  Just ain't (sic) gonna happen.  Most wildlife is scared of human contact.  What attracts bears is food, and when I camp, the food is going to be up in a tree in a "bear proof" container.  Hopefully I'll be in a camp ground. A more realistic worry is being hit by some jerk driving a semi.  That's what I worry about.  And that's just part of the risk you have to deal with.  I've ridden all the way across the U.S., alone, and by now I can handle it.

Ok, the PD has affected me in a number of ways: I tremble uncontrollably at times.  I'm stiff.  My left hand doesn't work that well.  And my balance has suffered.

Usually the trembling and stiffness is when my meds aren't working e.g. it's morning and I haven't taken them all night.  So dealing with that is as simple as taking a pill.  The act of riding helps too; when I'm on a bike I don't have to take my meds as frequently.  The left hand thing is a little troublesome.  But as long as I can change a flat it's tolerable.  And I can still change a flat.  Yes my balance is not as good as it once was.  But it's good enough.  If I can ride well enough to work out I can ride well enough to pull this off.

Enough said.