Steve’s Blog – Aug 11 – back where it started – Parry Sound to Orillia

As Peter Istvan knows, I credit him with many positive breakthroughs in my life with PD. The details are unimportant, but my advice is this: find someone who is bright, compassionate and lives their life with balance. That person can help you, if they are willing  … and if you are, to. 

Peter is also an exceptionally fast and capable rider, as is everyone in Parry Sound, it seems. We are joined by my wife, Lori, and Jim’s wife, Krista, and about 20 of Parry Sound’s finest. I also get to meet several new people, including Dave, who I think will be important in my life one day soon, as well as Missy and family, who already are. I also get to reacquaint myself with so many of the PS riders that I have the good luck to have met before. I also get to see Mike Loghrin’s character double, as he rides 80 km in tougher condition than he likes AND he waives of an offer to relax in the RV just to see what he can do.

We stop for an elegant lunch at Wade and Barb’s house, and say good bye to the whole brood. It is just Jim and me again, and we are both worn out with 70 km remaining. But that’s what we’re signed up for, so we do it.

Each of our team has been looking forward to this day. Perhaps it is the people; perhaps it is the scenery, perhaps it is the support. For me, this is where my PD healing started and where I come to recharge. It is sacred.

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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.”