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Forgetting and not forgetting

The memorial to John Colvin on OCH where he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in June. Debra Deem was killed just up the road at Newport Coast Drive last August.
The memorial to John Colvin on OCH where he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in June. Debra Deem was killed just up the road at Newport Coast Drive last August.

This sort of fits into the "good news, bad news" category, if one is needed to give some context, but there are two events this week that involve cycling and memory.

One is a presentation on how bicycling may be beneficial in building brain cells and staving off Alzheimer's disease.

The second is a ride in memory of two cyclists killed on PCH this year.

"One word, Benjamin: Plastics"

Those of you who remember the advice given to Benjamin Braddock in "The Graduate" will recognize this line. And when it comes to keeping your mind sharp as you age, a brain that is agile and "plastic" has an advantage. Briefly, a healthy brain is "always adapting and molding itself through an on going and never-ending process called 'neuroplasticity.' This is how we learn new information and skills. It is also how the brain works to repair itself after a stroke or head injury by growing new connections around the damaged area of the brain."

Dr. Kent Peppard, a psychologist who specializes in the neuropsychological assessment of cognitive disorders such as dementia, knows that you can actively take steps to keep you mind as functional as possible.

Dr. Peppard lives and works in the OC and is an avid cyclist. Aside from his clinical work and research, he's very active in mentoring riders: he regularly arranges LSD rides (as in "Long, Slow Distance") for pace-line and endurance training, and coaches those with a more competitive bent prepping for the annual Huntsman World Senior Games (and with great success, too). He'll be the featured speaker at the Bicycle Club of Irvine's meeting this Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Irvine Ranch Water District Community Room
15500 Sand Canyon Avenue

When not cycling, he's usually busy at his private practice in Irvine where he "performs neuropsychological examinations with people who have memory problems, and helps with the diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer's disease." He's also actively involved in research testing new drugs designed to better treat and even cure these often devastating illnesses.

At the meeting, Dr. Peppard will discuss risk factors that can contribute to memory disorders­—like smoking, diet, obesity, head injuries and various lifestyle choices—and how to make changes that can help delay (and even prevent) debilitating changes in the brain.

He'll also discuss how you can "exercise" your brain by keeping it active: and this goes beyond doing crossword puzzles and reading. As it happens, bicycling is proving to be an excellent tool in the arsenal, as it blends balance, spatial awareness, and a good amount of situational analysis. "Cycling is great for the vascular system, and whatever is good for the heart is good for the brain. Cycling is also often a social experience, and social involvement is excellent stimulation and exercise for the brain."

In short, if you keep your body healthy and your mind active, you may be able to achieve the neuropsychologist's goal…which, he says with a wry grin, "…is to end up dying late in life from something other than a dementing illness such as Alzheimer's disease."

If you can't attend and would like to contact Dr. Peppard, drop an email to

A Memorial Ride: "Remembering the Fallen"

What it started as a small ride honoring the memories of two fallen riders organized by family and friends appears to be garnering a groundswell of interest from cyclists all over the OC.

John Colvin was struck by a car while cycling on PCH near Emerald Bay this June 17. He was transported by emergency personnel but passed away that evening. The suspect was arrested about a mile away, but has not been charged as of this writing. The Laguna Beach Police Department's investigation is continuing. The findings and any recommendation of charges will be presented to the OC District Attorney's Office later this year.

Last August, Debra Deem was killed after being hit by a vehicle on PCH at Newport Coast. The driver, 84-year-old Robert Anderson of Irvine, has entered a "Not Guilty" plea to charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. His trial is scheduled to begin on Aug 6, 2014, in the Harbor Justice Center, Dept H-7.

This Sunday, July 20, cyclists will meet in Laguna Beach for a brief invocation followed by a ride to Newport Coast. The rally point is Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, and riders are asked to gather at 8:00 in the morning.

More information and details are available at the Orange County Bicycle Coalition's Facebook page.

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