Monday, November 27, 2006

I hope everyone who reads this enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I had a nice day with four of my kids and extended family there to demo my gear to. The preparations for my big ride are in the final stages and explaining all the gear, packing and logisitics to a captive audience was a big help in making sure it was organized and complete. Twenty six dehydrated dinners and six weeks' worth of oatmeal, raisins, dried blueberries and deluxe trail mix are all packed in four lots, one of which goes to FL with the bike and the other three of which get sent to myself c/o postmasters in St. Francisville, LA, Comfort, TX and Silver City, NM. I spent Friday at the bike shop getting new wheels and tires, cleaning and lubing everything and doing a final mechanical check. This weekend, I did a full-dress-rehearsal ride; 100 miles spread over two days with an overnight camp to break in the new spokes under full expedition load and double check that all the gear is in working order. I'm going ultra-lite, with a 10' x 12' tarp, 5' x 8' ground cloth, 20 degree down sleeping bag, alcohol stove, one pot, one bowl, one cup, one spork, a pack towel, four sets of cycling duds (two long and two short plus two jackets, one windproof and one waterproof/breathable), long johns for night wear, rain gear, hat, neckwarmer, balaclava, 2 pr. gloves, 2 headlamps, camera, spare batteries, toiletries, first aid supplies and notebook. With a week's meals, it all weighs in at 30 lbs, including the panniers. Feels very heavy moving the bike around by hand, but rolls very well and rides comfortably. Uphills require more downshifting, but since I'm pretty light anyway (155 lbs. now; 145 in a week or two) it's not that bad. No Granny gear, so I'm hoping to have some quads before I get to the hills. Monday, the bike goes back to the shop for final wheel trueing and then the bike and gear all goes into boxes to ship to Sprockets bike shop in St. Augustine. They'll hold it for me until I arrive a week from Saturday. Saturday morning, Dec. 2 I catch an 8:15 flight out of Manchester, NH for Jacksonville, FL and then a Greyhound to St. Augustine. I have a few hours Saturday afternoon to reassemble everything and ship the empty box on to CA and then Sunday morning, Dec. 3, I start riding west. With luck, I'll be in La Jolla Jan. 12th. Wish me luck!

Please visit my website, "". Click on the FARA link to read about the ongoing research happening at Scripps Institute and other research centers. We hope to see clinical trials within the next couple of years that will lead to effective treatments to arrest the progress of this horrible disease. If you're inspired to do so, any contribution you could make would be greatly appreciated. You can contribute by clicking on the FARA link and following the directions there. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Frank Wootten

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hi! I'm Frank Wootten, currently of Hooksett, NH. I created this blog (my first attempt) to publicize a fund-raising bicycle trip I'm undertaking soon. I have a 28-year-old son name Thomas ('TK') who lives in Columbia, SC. He is wheelchair-bound and suffers from an hereditary degenerative neuropathy called Friedrich's Ataxia. (see for more info) There is no cure yet, but researchers are making progress towards clinical trials of possible treatments to arrest the disease's progress. The problem is that the disease is so rare that it receives very little public funding. I'm an adventurer, so I decided to use a good adventure to try and raise some research money for the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (see for more info and a donation link.)

Starting Sunday, Dec. 3rd, 2006, I'm going to leave St. Augustine, FL to ride my bicycle to La Jolla, CA via Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier route. This will be a solo, unsupported ride. I'll be carrying ultralite camping gear and spending most nights outdoors. I'm going to try and make the trip in six weeks at an average pace of about 80 miles per day. I chose La Jolla for a western terminus instead of San Diego because La Jolla is the home of Scripps Institute, one of the key research organizations working on a cure for FA. The FA Research Alliance is sending press releases to local papers all along my route and it is my hope that people will read those articles or this blog and be motivated to make a donation to the alliance to help further this research.

I'll be posting to this site from libraries along the way to let folks know how it's going. As soon as I figure out how and have time to play, I'll post pictures of me and TK and a spreadsheet showing my ride itinerary. I'd welcome company along the way if any cyclists out there would like to join me.