Thursday, August 11, 2011

A 900 Mile Message

Pam and I met Doug Bahniuk at the end of his 900 mile journey across Alaska (Photo by Pamela Dunlap-Shohl)

When asked why he he wished to climb Mt. Everest, mountaineer George Mallory is said to have replied "Because it's there". When you ask Doug Bahniuk why he rode his bicycle 900 miles from the North Slope of Alaska to Anchorage, he cites a more compelling incentive. Doug wanted to show other people who suffer from Parkinson's Disease that adventure and accomplishment are still within their grasp.

To achieve this, he set about a test that he describes as "Brutal". Riding solo across Alaska on a road of potholes and "washboard" ripples, a road littered with rocks the size of peaches, he fought headwind and fatigue for nearly three weeks. Doug rode through mud and mosquitoes up mountain passes. He sheltered from the rain under a bit of plastic. He pitched his tent over beds of rocks that prodded him at night through his blue foam pad. He fell off his bike three times.

He finally arrived in Anchorage hungry, bug-bit, triumphant and relieved. He can now return to his normal everyday life. A life where he must deal each day with Parkinson's Disease. A task that will surly seem tame compared to his wild ride from the remote Arctic back to civilization.

Mallory disappeared on Everest. Mortal risk was one of the hazards of going there. With Doug, it's not the going there that matters, it's the coming back.

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