Breathe, Breathe

Breathe, Breathe

One of the first registrations for the 2015 Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb was Kyle Bryant.   He emailed:

I have a disability that affects my balance and coordination so I ride a recumbent tricycle.  I do not race much but I finished Race Across America in 2010 on a 4 man team. I am very much looking forward to the challenge of Mt Evans.

We were thrilled to have him not only so he could achieve another goal but because it is exciting to watch people tackle Mt. Evans against all odds.   One of the greatest attributes of the Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb is that it not only allows the elite cyclists  like Lachlan Morton, Emerson Oronte, Johnathan Freter, Julian Kyer and Mara Abbott to reach the Summit at unprecedented speeds but it allows recreational riders to race along side the elite and it allows people to set and achieve personal goals like Kyle did.    It is awe inspiring to watch each and every racer cross that finish line.

Kyle and his crew take these challenges as part of RideAtaxia, is a nation-wide program of bike ridesthat welcomes people of all abilities to ride and support FA research.  Kyle’s dedication to RideAtaxia and his determination to reach the Summit is very personal:

Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) causes progressive loss of coordination and balance, vision loss, hearing loss, and life shortening heart disease.  At age 17, I found out that my life would likely be much shorter than I thought it might.  Since 2007 I have been using cycling to accomplish things that this disease threatened to keep me from – two cross country cycling journeys including a successful finish of Race Across America as part of a 4 man team, a triathlon, and now a trip to the top of the highest paved road in North America.  The sky is the limit.  Cure FA!

Kyle did reach the Summit and it was amazing to see him as he was smiling and it seemed as if he had conquered the mountain in stride.   When asked how the climb was for him:

Above 12,000’, I had to concentrate on breathing.  It was becoming difficult to take a drink.  I had to prepare for it.  I hyperventilated by taking several deep breaths as fast as possible, hold the breath while the water goes down and then breathe fast and deep again to catch up from the air that I missed while taking a drink.  If done properly this would result in uninterrupted pedaling.  However if this process was interrupted for any reason, or simply because my mind was wandering, my head would start to get light and I could feel that if I did not get my breathing back on track I might lose it all together and then the day would be over.  

Breathing is something we all take for granted but that day I realized how fortunate we are to be able to breathe as I considered a recent interaction I had with a friend living with FA.  I asked him how it is going as I do with anyone and I expected the typical Jon response of ‘doing great, nice to see you’.  However Jon said “not so good actually.  Lately I have had a hard time feeding myself, and breathing is becoming more and more difficult.” 

On the mountain as the precious oxygen cleared my mind, I refocused on the task at hand with a renewed purpose.  I focused on my breathing and kept cranking at 4 mph.  Our 8 man team crossed the finish line 6.25 hours after we started.  Our ride is dedicated to all of our friends living with FA and the researchers who have dedicated their lives to helping find a cure.

Thank you Kyle for putting it in perspective for all of us, for being part of the very important 50th Anniversary edition of the Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb and most of all, thank you for holding RideAtaxia events throughout the country and raising over $3,000,000 to date to help make a difference to other affected by Freiderich’s Ataxia.    We encourage everyone from the Mt. Evans Hill Climb family will join one of the rides and make sure Kyle knows that you also reached the summit!

Keep an eye out for the film The Ataxian !  Special thanks to Blake Andrews for his photography and for the video of the RideAtaxia climb up Mt. Evans.  Can’t wait to see it.

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