August 1999. Twenty-one bicyclists depart the Berkshires and in the course of two days, under cloudy skies, sometimes skimming through puddles, they pedal clear across Massachusetts, cutting a swath through a state where 130,000 people are afflicted by dementia. With each mile, "Memory Ride" -- launched three years earlier by Julia's children -- draws hope, awareness, and research dollars for Alzheimer's disease. This year's participants will raise almost $50,000 -- nearly twice last year's total and enough to cover the salary and supplies for one junior researcher for an entire year. Many of the riders have had parents taken by the disease; some among them have early symptoms. As they lean up Beacon Street and end their ride in front of Boston's gold dome, they are but a small group "chasing a shadow" -- one of Julia's daughters' descriptions of her illness. The assemblage -- riders, crew, Julia's children and grandchildren, and well-wishers -- carry a message pure and simple into the State House's Great Hall: "We don't want our children to know this darkness. We can conquer it."