Steve’s Blog – July 6 –  what does success look like – Castlegar to Crawford Bay

I started this day with a thought challenge to myself: what does success look like for our cross Canada ride? I expected that I would be tossing this around in my head for hours, but with one encounter it all became clear.

Let me back up and explain. 

This day was a show of force. Mike joined in on the fun today. He was riding in beast mode and we rode together from Castlegar to Nelson. We rode as a team. The morning ride ended with a long and twisting descent into Nelson. It was thrilling. 

We had initially planned to spend the night in Nelson, but plans changed and contorted and reformed until ultimately we planned to meet a friend in Nelson  just to say hi. That was why we happened to be standing in the Nelson Riverside Shopping centre beside our RV at the precise moment that Katherine walked by. Katherine was diagnosed with PD a week ago. It was clearly on her mind, as she was carrying an Internet print off of PD facts and a serious expression. She approached us and tremulously asked if we had PD, and explained her recent diagnosis. And there we were, all four of us, in the exact right place and time, buzzing with energy from a fun ride and with time to focus entirely on Katherine.

My impression of Katherine is that she is confused and troubled by her prognosis, without a place to turn to for practical answers; almost identical to how each of us enters this journey.  It is a vulnerable time. What happens next can define the attitude that you adopt about life with PD, and all the things that you do or don’t do as a result. I think that Katherine needed to see the effect of staying positive – not read about it or watch a video, but see it so she could assess, question and believe it. Today, she met four people who showed her that an active and positive life is still possible with PD, and she liked it. I think that Katherine has had a solid nudge towards a positive attitude.

So what does success look like? This conversation with Katherine is an example of the sort of interaction that we have been having with people each day. To chance upon conversations with people, especially those who don’t think they’re ready or know where to start, you have to be out there in the open and with a clear invitation to talk. That is what we do each day – all day – and we find ourselves in so many of these conversations. Change may not happen in a day or a single conversation, but it can be a start of a process that can really make a difference.  That, my friends, is my idea of success.

5 Responses

  1. VERY positive, Steve! And exactly what the newly-diagnosed (and those of us further along) need to see and emulate. Thank you kindly, Jeannine

  2. This brought a tear to my eyes. This is why the ride is so powerful – chance encounters that can and will change people’s lives.

    All of you show what is possible when you choose to live your best life with Parkinson’s. Keep on pedaling!

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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.”