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Steve’s Blog – July 30 –  from Richer, Man to richer man as we return home to Ontario with stories of adventure –  Richer, Man to Kenora, Ont

I enter boldly-named Prawda, Manitoba, (50km into today’s ride). Despite the obvious luxuries – two gas stations with concessions – I do not find what I need so I cycle on. The sun is high and hot, and I am alone and parched. My water long gone, no cell service and no way to connect with the group, I stop to canvas an Ontario information centre but the building was vacant, except for a store selling Anishnawbe crafts. I see that they have it – lots – but the store is closed. I step back into the heat and continued on. This has become critical; I’ve been too long without it. A sign glinted from behind a tree – it would have been easy to miss, but I saw it. Just 3km away; I quicken my pace. Upon arrival I survey the room and, through salt ridged lips, I query weakly: “wifi?”  Yes!  The holy password restores life, confirmed by familiar dings and hums. Anticlimactically, I slump, yielding to dehydration, and silently take stock of new priorities.

This is uncomfortably close to reality, as phone and wifi links in this area are both rare and crappy. A telecommunications desert.

Today is the Saturday of a long weekend, and RV options don’t exist. While we ride, Darlene is busy doing her daily reservation magic. Mike and Jim take the recumbent bikes, and I return to my road bike. 

At this point I must register a rant with the Manitoba Transportation Ministry: a little bit before Prawda, the shoulder pavement suddenly ends. The Ministry either does not know that cyclists use this highway, or does not care, as there was no notice and no options. I understand that budget limitations require concessions, but that doesn’t explain the absence of notice or even warning spray paint. We all launch off the pavement at speed into the hole and land in the loose gravel. Now what? Since the Ministry doesn’t acknowledge the missing pavement, they certainly give no indication of helpful information, like how long this condition will last [16 km] or options [none]. It is irresponsible and dangerous.

As we approach the border with Ontario, the landscape rapidly adjusts from it’s prairie state to something more familiar: evergreen forests return, as do lakes, low hills and exposed granite. By the time we get to the border, we are in our Group of Seven landscape and suitably prepared for Ontario. Our travel today ends at 125km to go North to Redditt, and our home for the night at Silver Birch Camps. There we find the friendliest family who operate an impressive lodge. We talk for hours about life in the North, hockey, beer, blueberries and all things Canadian. We also learn that the next 90 km beyond Kenora are a highway shoulder horror show. This is where we decide to cash in some of our banked extraneous km in exchange for passage to safe shoulders. We plan to drive to Vermilion Bay tomorrow and start from there.

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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.”