Steve’s Blog – Aug 4 –  Rest Day-  Nipigon

I’ll speak plainly: rest days are not restful. Yes, we can sleep a little later, but we don’t – we are already hardwired to stir at the first sign of light, so we do. It could also have something to do with the nature and economics of RV parks that had them situated alongside highways and rail lines – two reliable roosters.

Every rest day starts with a list of plans, tasks and noble intentions, and ends with unfulfilled obligations, unmet expectations a

and recriminations. Throw in group dynamics, travel fatigue, camping discomforts, social separation and a half-dozen raging Parkinson’s symptoms, and you have the makings of a powder keg.

Still, this is the place to be. We meet a couple today from Cornwall. They are travelling West but have made special provisions to meet up with us, something that they have been interested in since hearing us on CBC Fresh Air. They are planning a civic celebration for us in Cornwall, and we gratefully adjusted our route to accommodate. That is the sort of interaction that helps maintain perspective and motivation. We have also been taking to Peter Istvan from Parry Sound, and looking forward to fun with him and Kathleen.

We received our tour cycling shirts today. They look fantastic. They show a spoked wheel set against our route across Canada – well, an early version of our route. Mike prepared a video to show them off. 

Today we’re back on the road for a long-ish ride. It will feel good to be moving.

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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.”