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Steve’s Blog – Aug 22 – revival – Port Hope to Peterborough

Spending time with old friends can be restorative, like hearing an old favourite song from your
youth. I emerge from Peter and Louise’s lovely home feeling refreshed and reinvigorated just
when I needed it.

We start with an interview with Global Peterborough, which wasn’t our best, but certainly good
enough.
This will be a challenging cycling day with an immense reward. The day started with a dark and
gloomy sky, flecked with rain and distant thunder. It got worse. The rain volume multiplied and
the thunder neared, until rivulets formed on the roads and lightning flashed just ahead. Today
we plan to meet supporters at three points along our route, based on the distance they wanted
to ride.
Among many others, we meet up with a Rigid Rider who suffers from a debilitating form of
Parkinsonism that has dramatically limited his cognitive skills and ability to communicate.
Astonishingly, he has retained his cycling talents and personal resolve, and we push off
together into a wall of rain water and a crackle of light, followed in the car by his caring wife. She
is intent on giving him every opportunity to cycle in a group and to preserve his abilities. Though
he is a strong rider, he tires with effort and requires monitoring. It is an honour and a duty that I
take seriously, as do others who help keep watch. At a halfway point, he stops abruptly to
labour in his backpack and presents his phone – he wanted to make sure that Strava continued
to capture this feat; he is all in.
He continues on for 50km to the end, despite the extreme weather, plentiful hills and the near-
constant deluge. I learn afterwards that this is probably hist longest ride ever. I am so proud of
his effort today, and expect that he feels the same way.
When we get to Peterborough, we are treated to the most amazing sight – despite intense rain,
and the fact that we are two hours late, we are greeted in the Wild Rock Outfitters parking lot by
two dozen supporters, including a journalist and a world leading cyclist (Travis Samuel), and
then again at dinner. I doubt that any of these people will ever truly understand how much their
presence at either of these events means to us, no matter how hard we try. Thanks
immeasurably to Lanny, Nancy and Liana for helping to organize such a meaningful stop on our
tour.

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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.”