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Orange Bicyclist with Parkinson's Preparing for Solo 382-Mile Bike Ride Across Alaska


By Lindsay Betz, Sun News

“If there’s not a chance it will kill you, then where’s the fun?”

That is the motto of resident Doug Bahniuk, who is training for a solo 382-mile bike ride across Alaska this month.

He is riding to raise money for Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with seven years ago.

This is not Bahniuk’s first long haul ride. He has biked across the country — from Portland, Ore., to Boston — several times and now he wants to take it up a notch to prove Parkinson’s can’t and won’t stop him.

He is raising money for the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, two organizations that raise awareness and do research to find a cure for the disease.

To follow “Doug’s Wild Ride” or to donate money to the cause, visit His goal is to raise $15,000.

Bahniuk is making last-minute preparations and training to ride his aluminum bike from Anchorage to Fairbanks along The Parks Highway.

While he is an experienced solo rider, Bahniuk is concerned about this ride since much of the land in between the two cities is desolate and uninhabited.

“There aren’t a lot of big towns or anything between the two cities, so I’ll have to be doing a lot of camping and taking my own food and water with me,” he said. “I won’t have a cell phone or anything like that because it’s just too isolated.”

Bahniuk will fill two bags with the necessities, camping gear and a change of clothes and attach them to his bike. He will start pedaling today and hopes to reach Fairbanks by Monday.

When he first started doing research for this ride, he called the Alaska State Police for advice. They told him to bring a gun since there are bears, wolves and other wild animals in that region.

While he might not go that far, Bahniuk does recognize the trip he is about to take could be a dangerous one.

“It should be a very challenging ride, especially because I have Parkinson’s, which makes it hard to coordinate your body,” he said.

Bahniuk, 57, struggles with Parkinson’s symptoms in his daily life, from shaking to balance and speech issues to problems walking. But when he gets on his bike and starts riding those symptoms just go away.

“Riding is one of the things that I can do that makes me feel normal,” Bahniuk said. “When I ride, the effects just seem to magically disappear, so that’s one of the reasons I enjoy riding so much.”

Always an avid cyclist, he bikes 20 miles three to four days a week. Bahniuk keeps taking these trips because he likes to challenge himself and he thinks the previous journeys have prepared him for this one.

He has ridden through the 120-degree desert, where a little bit of shade is a luxury.

“Sometimes, you’re just trying to survive,” he said. “You look for rock piles that you can lean against and get into the shade for a few minutes.”

The biomedical engineer also hopes to raise awareness about Parkinson’s, a disorder of the central nervous system which affects dopamine production in the brain.

Bahniuk, who grew up in Gates Mills, lives in Orange with his wife and their son Jimmy, 12.

Contact Betz at(216) 986-5867.

Follow Betz at

PDF thanks PDF Champion Doug Bahniuk and wishes him luck on his ride! For more information, visit the PDF Champions page.

Source Date: Jul 08 2010
Source Publication: Sun News /
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