Steve’s Blog – July 25 –  good bye Saskatchewan – Churchbridge, Sask to Shaol Lake, Man

We cycled out of Saskatchewan today, this has been a favourite Province for some of us, so it seems appropriate to take a stab at some observations that make it unique.

  • Bunny Hugs: we learn that this is the name that they use to describe what we call “hoodies”. I can hardly believe it. I can’t imagine a tough teenage boy using it in a sentence, like “yo, back off, you spilled Coke on my bunny hug!”
  • Rugged Skin: this observation comes directly from Terry in Abernathy, who says that this is how Americans correctly identify them as Saskatchewaners. I don’t see it myself, with the exception of rough skin on their hands from farm work – men and women equally 
  • Land: I have mentioned before that people from Saskatchewan have a unique relationship with their land. Generations of families shape and are shaped by the land that they own. The land and their identities are intertwined.
  • Neighbourly: perhaps as a direct result of the land relationship, the relationship with neighbours is fundamentally different. These relationships can be multigenerational and deep. I heard several conversations where people spoke reverential about their neighbours. Though I haven’t seen it, I can imagine that things can also go awry, where a slight or insult can resound through the decades, like the Hatfields and the Macoys.
  • Canadian: I have not met prouder Canadians. They affiliate strongly as Canadians, more so than any other Province that I have been to. Even more than standing amidst a crowd in Ottawa during Canada Day celebrations, which was my prior high water mark for patriotism
  • Charitable: we have experienced this everyday in Saskatchewan. There is a very well developed sense of duty to be charitable. It is their instinct.
  • Community: many of the things  on this list seem to coalesce and set the stage for a particularly strong sense of community. Though it send that it can take generations rather than just years to be something other than the “new” guy.
  • Winter: like so many places in Canada, Winter shapes the people here. But what I notice is that it didn’t shape the architecture. Houses do not, from the outside, seem built to withstand the rigours of the cold and snow. I am used to Winter designs like in Fernie, where external walls are thick, frames are elevated to accommodate snow accumulation, roofs are built to shed snow. Perhaps there is a standard of particularly strong furnaces, which would negate the other design requirements.
  • Trees: there are none. I can’t tell you how many times we decided to stop at the next shady tree, only to travel dozens of km further until we got tired of looking.
  • Pride: as a whole, people from this Province are proud to come from here. So they should be. This took a while to sink in, as we are frequently asked “what are you doing here!” They mean “I know why I’m here, why are you?” Curiosity, not judgement.

Today I am waylayed by a worn out tire and finicky tubes. So much time is taken. It holds together well enough for our 125 km trip today, but the tire is not fully fixed until worked on by Jim 2, the incredible fellow that we met last night who we met again. This time we have him over to get out of the poor weather, we are regaled with stories of cycling and wilderness. We make plans to connect when we are in Kingston.

One Response

  1. Great comments about we SK types…BUT, Steve you just weren’t in the right area for trees. You can’t say there are none! My home town had three lumber mills and one is still operating. There’s your proof!

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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.”