Steve’s Blog – July 31 –  safety v. adventure –  Kenora to Dryden, Ont

Ugh, rain. And lightening. And cold. We had already resolved to skip this next section for safety reasons, and now we had three more.

We move slowly, without precision, or purpose, not because of Parkinson’s but because we are cyclists on a non-riding day. Our minds and bodies are in conflict. Both showed up for duty, and were sent home without pay.

We spend an hour or more having coffee with the owners of the Silver Birch Camps. They have been through a lot – I mean a lot – and the fact that they are still here smiling with us today is a story of its own. Best if you hear it from them, next time you are in the Kenora area.  

We go into town for food and shopping, and overeat pizza and ice tea until sufficiently bloated for the drive ahead to Dryden. Unwise, because plans change. While driving, and despite the rain, we notice that the shoulders are not as harrowing as described. A little broken, a little bumpy, but passable. They do narrow outrageously each time a passing lane is added, but still manageable, so we decided to jump out after all and do the remaining 60km. And wouldn’t you know it, at that very moment,    the rain stopped for good.

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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.”