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Steve’s Blog – Aug 23-24 – Ottawa Bound – Peterborough to Ottawa

Physics observation: the mass of your home is inversely and geometrical relative to your
distance from it. Consequently, the closer you get to your home, the greater the gravitational
draw, squared.
I observed this principle over the course of these two days of travel with Jim. We left
Peterborough late and set our sights on Arden, Ontario – mathematically halfway. We rode 146
km, but fell short of our mark by about 35 km. This difference would have to be made up the
next day.

Incidentally, the road that we are on – mapped out for us by a friend – is away from busy
Highway #7, and it is some of the prettiest countryside that I have ever cycled.
Lakes border quiet roads for the entire route.
The next morning would require a Herculean effort, made more difficult by a very slow
restaurant breakfast (we mistook “all day breakfast” to mean availability, not duration). This set
us back again, only this time Jim was that much closer to home, and the draw that much more
intense. His pace seemed to quicken, and his breaks shortened. We were escorted towards
town by two friends of Jim – Wayne and Jeff. Jim was intent on riding up his driveway today
and he rode a personal best 183 km to get there. (I was so close to the 200km threshold, a
distance I covet but have never previously attempted, so I diverted to Quebec via the Champlain
Bridge, and crossed over to new territory: 202km.)
Tonight we enjoy the hospitality of Jim and Krista, Tilly and Beans.

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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.”