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Steve’s Blog – Aug 25-28 – it’s about the people we meet – Ottawa/Gatineau

The name “Ottawa” is derived from an Algonquian homonym meaning
“gather for trade”. Gather, we did, and our trading was of stories, photos and best wishes. Four
days of revelry.
Through the exceptional efforts of Krista and many others, we gather first in Brittania Park for a
meet and greet. We meet so many people, some who have come to see us (good to see Maria
and so many friends of Jim and Krista), and others who happen upon us from the neighbouring
trail system. I am encouraged by the honesty and instant intimacy of so many people I talk to,
including one young woman who, like I was early on, is currently hiding her PD from the world. I
give my perspective, my encouragement and contact info, and hope she connects.
We have a truly wonderful street party on the lawn of Jim’s neighbour [not to be confused with
Jim Nabors (tv’s Gomer Pyle) who is deceased and, if he has a lawn, it would be unsuitable for
parties]. 40-45 neighbours attend, and two things become apparent: they love Jim and Krista,
and this social clan is ready to have a party at any opportunity. This was a good one. Again, I
come away from this impacted by a very powerful conversation about health and life and
attitude add happiness. And the very next day I get to see these on display at Boxing4Life,
where we witness determined people with and without PD beating the snot out of defenceless
punching bags and rubber mannequins. We see a mix of persistence, encouragement, fortitude,
and shameless brutality – just the sort of people that we like.
Speaking about people we like, we connect with friends (including Greg, Nikki and Heather, who
I learned to adore on a ride in Toronto last year, and haven’t seen since), to take in the beauty
and accessibility of Gatineau Park. Jim and I rode this route once before last year, and it is

gratifying to see how 2 months of cycling has a profound impact in our abilities, as this route –
once daunting – is now manageable.
Similar to how friends met us at City limits and escorted us into Ottawa, friends now escort us
out, and we venture 126 km to gather at the home of Jim’s father Jerry just outside Athens
Ontario to enjoy a fish fry. We eat like kings, including bass that Jerry caught, prepared, and
cooked. 10-15 of Jim’s intensely proud family gather tuto eat, meet and support, adding to the
warmth of a day that is already hot.
Into these busy days we mix in a little golf, drone attacks, RV prep, major bike repairs, dog
playing, video making, route planning, shirt selling, friends visiting, cafe brunching and life.
Getting back on our bikes should be relaxing, comparatively.

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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.”