Steve’s Blog – Aug 8 –  guts and the irreplaceable value of old friendships – Lake Superior Prov Park to Sault St Marie

We awoke to an ambiguous pitter patter on the roof of the RV, which quickened to a tremolo, and ultimately to a rattle.  We were in a deluge. Jim and I look for reasons not to go today, but none quite work. Instead, as if responding to an unstated dare, we find ourselves fully dressed, standing with our bikes, ready to ride into a drenched headwind. Surprising even ourselves, we set off. The rain seems to slow everything: ascents, descents and initiative.

Deciding that this is what we signed up for with this journey, Jim and I stop looking for outs and get moving. And that’s exactly what we did: 148km distance and 1,136 m vertical gain. As a fun coincidence, Darlene stopped to ask a cyclist if they needed help. They didn’t, but the cyclist (Andre) said “hey, I’ve heard of your group. I think that you are staying with my neighbour,” and then lead us along a better route into Sault St Marie. And to further the coincidences, Andre creates therapeutic cycling machines that are designed to train the brain to deal with neurological asymmetries that occur in the Parkinsonian brain, helping to resolve syncing challenges between left and right limbs. 

Which brings us to the first “old friend” encounter. Toni and Duane have been close friends since they worked with my wife at her first professional workplace about 35 years ago. When hearing that we were coming to The Soo, Toni arranged for us to stay for the night with her family, Maria and Richard, who have opened their home to us with utmost love and warmth. Our stay here has been a tight warm hug at a moment that we needed it most.

The Soo is also home to a dear old friend from University, that I have “seen” regularly through Internet calls, but have not seen in person for almost 2 decades. Sitting across the table from my old friend Frank is the perfect antidote to the traveler’s blues. 

The unique feeling of reconnecting with old friends could be addictive. 

8 Responses

  1. I was a little worried about you guys. Glad you have regrouped and are in fine form. Enjoying your blogs. Won’t be long now until you reach TO and can get a familiar and supportive hug from friends and family! Sandra

  2. Love reading the blogs… are all are such an inspiration! What a huge accomplishment!
    Thank you from all of us Parkinson’s ‘warriors’!

    (We used to do Saturday RSB classes together Steve way back! I take them with Mike now @ Budo)

  3. Same experience with pouring rain. You could “not go” but when it’s time to move, you just do it and get wet. Can’t cycle if you can’t cycle in rain, wind and hills and when it’s time to go, you go. Well done. You guys are flying through northern Ontario and, yep, the hills don’t intimidate any more when you’re half way across, they’re just there. Well done. See you in Ottawa end of August. Cheers.

  4. Hi guys, sorry that I haven’t checked in with you for awhile. I have been keeping up with reading your blogs though and I love to see how you have been responding to the dual challenges of your ride and your Parkinson’s symptoms. I’m not surprised to hear that you are all handling things well. Wishing you all the best and looking forward to seeing you all when you arrive in the Maritimes. Oh, and Steven, if you ever had any doubt when you say in your blogs ‘Dan, if you are reading this…’, I am.

  5. Hi Guys. We met in Churchbridge, SK and then again in Shoal Lake, MB. I’ve finally had time (and internet access) to catch up on your trip. I just finished this section yesterday. I was lucky and had some of the best weather of my trip. The wind shifted from full on 30 kph headwind to 50 kph tailwind for the last 30 km into town. As you say, “the hills don’t intimidate anymore” and you are right. I kind of look forward to them since the headwind stops until you reach the top!

    I’m on my final stretch home to Kingston and as I’ve been saying to myself since hitting the Atlantic Watershed sign before Thunder Bay; “It’s all downhill to home”. I hope to catch up with all of you when you pass through Kingston.

    Keep up the good fight and keep smiling.

  6. I have not had a chance to read your blog for a few days now…you are doing great!
    Once Northern Ontario is over it will seem easier at least I felt that way when I was driving it.
    Did anyone see the CBC item about the man in Newfoundland who has a deep brain stimulator but has it controlled remotely by doctors in Toronto?
    Good luck you guys, what a wonderful thing you are doing.
    Cheers Colin Batty

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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.”