Steve’s Blog – July 15 – how to say thank you – Turner Valley to Calgary

At the risk of sounding hardened or naive, I am perpetually surprised by the scale, form and frequency of kindness that we have received.

Tonight we are staying in the home of Gail James (XIndianPrincess), a friend of a friend of a friend. With Gail, we feel immediately at home. This isn’t easy to achieve; it takes lots of preplanning and thought to make hospitality seem effortless.  Gail has spent her day-off shopping, baking, dehydrating fruit and preparing her space to be maximally comfortable for us. One centrepiece furnishing is a self designed/built rack to hold a number of leafs for her expandable diningroom table. That is the first clue that Gail is the sort of person who has dedicated herself to social hosting. She knows what she is doing and clearly loves it.

Gail, we are so grateful for your hospitality. It has been a shot in the arm right when we needed it. You are now part of the success of this trip.

Today, we rode with Walter (74) and Regula (late 50ish).  These are two amazing riders, wearing P4P shirts to show their support. Walter rode across Canada on his own 3 years ago at the age of 71!

Mike rode with us for the entire 60 km day. Not an easy ride, as there were hills involved. He rode exceptionally well.

We stayed with Gail that night, ate and drank like champions, and talked until we were sleepy (which wasn’t long after dinner).

Walter and Regula.

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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.”