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Steve’s Blog – Aug 31- clear reception – Cornwall to Montreal (Laval), Quebec

Gil and Sharon are splendid hosts with a lovely home. They deliver up coffee like pros and
enliven four weary travellers at a very early hour.
We drove to a community playhouse and settled in to our first ever Rotary meeting. The meeting
starts with happy bucks – voluntary contributions that are plunked into a coffee cup following
each happy announcement. What a good idea.
We are introduced and we have an excellent question and answer session with everyone
participating. Afterwards, we head to the Cornwall civic building and we are greeted by the
Mayor, the MP for the region, municipal tourism leads, media, people with PD and their
supporters. It is clear from the speeches and discussions that Cornwall’s leadership is
knowledgeable and cares about PD and related issues. They also care about cycling, which is
evident in the attention that they pay to enhancing their waterfront trails. Smart move, as we
would later see that Quebec has a similar focus with their “green trail” system, and Cornwall
should benefit from the growing cycle tourism along the waterfront. It will be interesting to see
how this grows over time, the way it has in so many of the countries and regions that we have
flown to over the years. It would be amazing to have that scale of travel right here. After
speeches we are presented with a treasure trove of branded items, but my favourite is my
Cornwall “bunny hug” [hoodie], which saves me immediately from a cool morning, and will
doubtless see a lot more use.

We continue on to Quebec. The border is delivered like a whispered secret – just a small sign, 3’
obelisk, and resetting of the street numbers – but it is enormously important to us; we haven’t
crossed a border since July 30th. This is progress, as our odometer clicks past 6,000 km cycled.
We make our way past Montreal to Laval, where we decided to celebrate with a hotel stay and
some joie de vivre. When in Quebec …

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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.”