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Steve’s Blog – Aug 7-  speed -White River to Lake Superior Prov Park

Well, we seem to be getting to the part of this journey where things start moving fast. It seems like yesterday that we crossed into Ontario yet, to my astonishment, we rolled passed the 1,000 km marker this morning. 

And the discord we feel is more than just location.  We are also now close to home, friends, and family. But for the last 7 weeks, “home” has been a nomadic RV and “family” has been my teammates. 

I am invested in both realities, which makes this a weird transition.  As we sweep through Southern Ontario and plan our furlough in hometown Toronto, I am forced to contrast this great adventure against the comforts of home. I wonder how we will all feel when the time comes to get back on our bikes and leave home again to continue the second half of this adventure. We’ll see.

I start the day with a call to old friends. What a great way to start any day. Better still, I will be seeing one of them, Frank, tomorrow. I have not seen Frank in person for decades, and really looking forward to it.

Today was a triumph. We knew in advance that this would be a long day (178 km) with lots of hills. Mike rides the first ⅓ with us and handles it well, whetting his appetite for more. Jim and I ride together for part and at our own paces for part, but we are both getting stronger and faster. Hills are no longer an anxiety; still hard and tiring, but no longer scary – we have scaled so many now and have earned the confidence that we can handle them.

The route takes us through tthe massive Lake Superior Provincial Park. Riding beside a lake the size a sea creates some amazing vistas.

I am happy to be here now and looking forward to my time at home. There, discord resolved.

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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.”