Tackling RA From All Sides

Along with her successful drug treatment, regular physical activity makes cross-country cycling possible, Messer strongly believes. “If I did not exercise, I could not move, I know that!”

She also adopted a vegetarian diet several years ago – something she says may or may not affect her RA but makes her feel healthier overall. She trains a few days a week on her trike, and she is now able to hike 8 to 10 miles again with Bruce. “I’m doing great! When something as simple as being able to walk across a room without excruciating pain, when you can go back to that – you don’t take it for granted, believe me.”

Messer’s newest challenge is a cross-continent trike ride she conceived with two friends from past rides: Kellie Morris, 58, who has undifferentiated arthritis; and Ed Dallas, 60, a Minnesota man who also mushes dog sleds and who survived a heart attack a few years ago. Morris will ride a trike and update their Facebook page on the way, and Dallas will ride a bike and also handle cooking duties. Their “epic journey,” as the trio calls it on Facebook, started a few years ago when Messer wanted new riding challenges and sought friends to join her. They hope to raise $30,000 for the Arthritis Foundation through fund-raising events at local restaurants, personal appeals and social media outreach. “We really have to hustle and hope people step it up,” she says of fund raising.

Messer’s year-long planning included tasks like gathering road maps, ordering bike trailers for their gear, and finding camping sites or motels along the way. People she meets often are incredulous that a 59-year-old mom with RA is undertaking this wild ride, she adds.

“People who know me know I do all these rides, but they think I’m out of my mind to do it for three months. People say ‘I’d love to do this,’ but getting started is hard,” laughs Messer, whose only concerns are sleeping on cold nights and avoiding oil tankers on the highway. “But once you’ve ridden the streets of Los Angeles or San Francisco, you’re ready for anything. That is combat training on a trike!”

She says she looks forward to the freedom of the open road, the majestic scenery of the countryside, and the camaraderie of riding with her friends. She also hopes their ride will illustrate how RA doesn’t have to derail your active lifestyle.

“I consider myself absolutely lucky. I feel like I have my health and the support of my family,” she says. “The money we’re raising helps, but this is also about raising awareness about chronic disease. That you don’t stop, you keep going.”


The Epic Journey

Pat Messer, Kellie Morris and Ed Dallas are riding 4,200 miles in 90 days this summer to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation. Here are the details of their epic journey:

Starting Point: Bar Harbor, Maine
Ending Point: Anacortes, Wash.
Start Date: May 17, 2012
End Date: Aug. 17, 2012
Approximate Miles Per Day: 55

To learn more about their trip, to follow their progress along the way, or to donate money, go to www.facebook.com/2trikesnbike