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Steve’s Blog – Aug 10 – robbing the bank – Blind River to Parry Sound

Oh no, another delayed blog, but this time for good reasons, I have even less writing time than usual, as my wife Lori has joined us and we are surrounded by friends.

We did a whirlwind ride Yesterday, starting in Blind River, going through Spanish, Espinola, and Sudbury, before ending in Parry Sound. Wait, wait, that can’t be. That’s, like, 320 km. Well, this was the day that we had been preparing for; it is time to cash in our banked km. There are a few mandatory highways that we would need to ride that have bad or none existent shoulders. Problem is, we didn’t know where most of them were, but these ones we did. So our plan has been to keep track of any extraneous mileage (mostly, North/South transit that was additional to a logical West—>East route), and bank them in exchange for riding these dangerous roads. We banked about 350 km and we have been using them sparingly, saving the bulk of them for yesterday. We were close with our calculations, but shy by about 30km, which we made up by riding a safe patch of road between Brit Station and Pointe au Baril. And that crazy route brought us to the home of Peter and Kathleen, two people that are beloved by our entire team. Once there, we recharge … as we always do.

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Why We Are Doing it

You have probably heard of Parkinson’s Disease. You may even know people who suffer from it.  Get used to it, as Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition, set to double in number by 2040.

Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain’s dopamine-producing cells die prematurely. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter necessary for many functions of the brain and body, including muscular control, and its loss affects all forms of movement and balance, as well as non-motor functions such as memory, concentration and motivation.  Think of dopamine as the electricity in an electric car: without it, the lights dim and the wheels stop spinning.

There is currently no cure, no bio-markers to aid detection, and little is known about how it is triggered, except that Canadians are disproportionately afflicted

Most people living with Parkinson’s reduce or even discontinue regular intensive physical activity after their Parkinson’s diagnosis.  Why?  Their actual skills and abilities do not suddenly evaporate on the date of their diagnosis, though their mental fortitude often does.  As a result, many abandon the very restorative health practices, such as regular exercise, when they are needed the most.  For people with Parkinson’s, intensive exercise can boost energy, sharpen the mind, elevate spirits and keep the body mobile.  Studies indicate that intense exercise can help train the Parkinson’s afflicted brain to use dopamine more efficiently and be able to do more with less.

Let’s use the dopamine we have to build the lives we want.

What are We Doing

Canada is a big country.  It is home to over 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease, 9 in 10 of which suffer in silence, isolation, or without the support of a knowledgeable organization or community.  Starting in June 2022, we aim to cross our big country by bicycle to meet as many of these people as possible to personally deliver this message: get moving to stay moving.  

We start In Victoria, British Columbia and ride east through every Canadian province, and hundreds of cities and towns along the way.  Our route is approximately 8,000 km, and we expect to average 125 km a day, six days a week for approximately three months.  Our Spinning Wheels Tour team will include two riders with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as two ride-along supporters to keep things moving.  Along the way, we will be meeting with people whose lives are touched by Parkinson’s, and encourage them to get moving with us, get engaged in support communities, and to set up their own group athletics.

We are not athletes, just people with the resolve to do what it takes to live well with this disease, and to encourage others..  

Along the way, we hope to hear these words, “If they can do it, I can too.”