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A Long Ride on The Longest Day

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bikeacrossamerica2Roehl Caragao knows the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on families. He has worked in hospice care since 2004, and along the way met many family members who watched loved ones lose their memories, their independence, and ultimately their life.

One of those family members is Lisa Arcia. Lisa’s grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and has since passed away. During the time her grandfather was on hospice care, Roehl and Lisa became friends. Now they are taking that friendship on the road to raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease on The Longest Day. Their goal? $65,000.

Lisa and Roehl are part of “Team Skipper”, a tandem bike team that will be at the starting line on June 18th for the Race Across America (RAAM). It is a 3069 mile ride that starts in Oceanside, CA and ends in Annapolis, Maryland.

Team Skipper has 8 members, riding on 4 tandem bikes, who will ride non-stop in relay fashion, with the hope of finishing the race in under 6 days. Roehl is the “captain” (front rider) of his bike, while Lisa will ride in the back as the “stoker”.

Relay bike racing is tricky, since the outgoing team can’t stop riding until the incoming team is in motion and “crosses their wheels”. “We try to transition at natural stops,” says Roehl. “ A stop sign is the best place because you have to stop! You get off, and the other team goes.”

Roehl, who has participated in Race Across America in the past, talks about the highs and lows of the route. “Colorado and Mexican Hat [Utah] are beautiful if you are riding during the day,” he says. “In Kansas the winds can howl, which can give you a nice tailwind. In Ohio, the humidity starts to get high, and if it rains at night, that makes it hard to see.”

It’s a tradition for RAAM teams to raise money for their favorite charity, and Roehl talks about why his bikeacrossamericateam picked the Alzheimer’s Association: “There are so many charities being represented in the race, but the Alzheimer’s Association hits us close because we have friends and family that have had Alzheimer’s. We want to bring awareness to the disease and the importance of continuing research, because there is no cure.”

Roehl and Lisa aren’t the only team members who are familiar with the devastation of Alzheimer’s. Among the other 6 members on the team are Jeanene, whose father passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2003, and Christy, whose grandfather died of Alzheimer’s.

So on June 18th they will ride. And on June 20th they will celebrate “The Longest Day” along with thousands of people across the country who are also honoring, in their own ways, the challenging journey of those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

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