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Steve’s Blog – July 14 – best ride ever – Bellevue to Turner Valley 

Suddenly the mountains ended. So suddenly, in fact, that we didn’t even recognize it yesterday, but they are just gone today, replaced with grassy foothills … and wind. On this day, the wind is mainly our friend.

From the outset of the day, I had my mind set on a 30 km/hr rate. Our route is a familiar one, having driven it dozens of time before. In fact, it has long been a dream of mine to cycle it. Today is the day. These are long, sweeping hills – gentle ups and downs, but lots of them. The area it’s also known for its wind gusts, with a forest of wind turbines across the landscape and live roadside gusts reports on highway signs. Gusts today are a relatively light 8-12 km/hr, which is great news, as they rarely seem to hold in one direction for long. We have certainly seen the effects of these strong winds in the past, and the ditch littered with transport trucks blown off course.

Our original route is 120 km to Longview, and I might not have made it that far In today’s heat, had an angel (my sister Sandra) not appeared on cue with water and grapes. 

It turns out that the next available RV Park is in the Turner Valley a further 25 km down road, so wet push on.

Stats for the day: 145 km, vertical 1.34 km, speed, 30.4 km avg. I have cycled further, higher and faster in the past, but not all three together. I feel certain that this is my greatest one day performance.

It is also a reminder of my Parkinson’s limits, as I am depleted upon arrival. Initially, I am barred from access to the municipal swimming pool, when my stumbling gait, wavering stance and slurred speech are mistaken for intoxication. This made me sad at first, but I now wear it as a badge of honour. It is a reminder and confirmation that, despite what Parkinson’s has taken from me, I refuse to budge on cycling. Incredibly, and against all odds, I continue to improve.

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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.”