Team Woods rides to fight Parkinson’s disease

Cyclists in the area are joining to pedal for a worthy cause – Parkinson’s disease research.

Five years ago, when Chris Woods, who is an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 41, the goal was to find a bicycle ride that raised money for Parkinson’s research.

For years, Woods had been riding in the 150-mile Diabetes ride, and the 150-mile MS ride, plus others. After doing research, the Woods family realized that there was no ride for Parkinson’s research, so it organized its own. The New England Parkinson’s Ride took shape in summer 2008, and linked up with The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The ride begins and ends in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, which is a two-hour drive from Southern New Hampshire. The ride travels through the countryside and along the shoreline. The first year, there were 35 cyclists, and they raised $27,000 for the Fox Foundation. The rides consisted of 30-, 50-, and 100-mile loops, and there were 10 rest stops manned by volunteers along the way. In 2009, a 10-mile loop was added to facilitate younger families, and less experienced cyclists. The group said it was an exciting year as there were 105 cyclists, who raised more than $56,000. The 2010 ride was even a bigger success. Volunteers raised $106,322 for The Michael J Fox Foundation, with 205 cyclists signed up for the ride.

This ride is advertised as a “weekend at the beach, with a ride thrown in for fun.” There is a pasta supper offered on Friday night before the ride, where cyclists socialize, and may pre-register for the morning’s ride. This is held at Lindbergh’s Landing at the end of The Pier at Old Orchard Beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

This year, we are expecting more than 300 cyclists, and have set a goal of $120,000. One hundred percent of the money raised by the cyclists goes to The Michael J Fox Foundation to be used in Parkinson’s research.

For information on the ride, visit www.neparkinsonsride.com, where you can also register to ride, to volunteer, or find information about making a donation, and watch the video of last year’s ride.

For more information about the team, visit RNEWoods@aol.com, or call Edna or Bob at 429-0588 or 566-9683.