Steve’s Blog June 30 – Where the sidewalk ends – Princeton to Penticton

Like all great mornings, this one started with a media interview. This was for Mojo 640 am Toronto. 

Today has been circled on my calendar for decades. 30ish years ago, my sister Wendy and I had planned a trip to cycle the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. As is common, old Rail lines were converted to a multi use path. Distinct to this route is the grandeur of the wooden trestle bridges used to ford gorges, and the train tunnels through the mountains. We decided on a different destination that year, putting off the KVRT for a year or two, but that year never came as, shortly after, wildfires took out many of the bridges. What I didn’t know until recently is that many of these structures have been rebuilt and the routes resurrected. Now we are in the right place at the right time …

… but not with the right bike. 

I had spent hours online and on the phone trying to research if the route is navigable by road bike. The thin tires on our bikes are ideal for pavement, but not much more. Our camp ground host calmed our concerns by confirming that the entire route between Princeton and Penticton is paved. With delight, we combined our planned two-day ride into one. 

We now know “where the sidewalk ends”; the pavement ends about 1.5 km into our 125km route. When it ends, the path becomes cruel sand.  Sand is the bane of road cyclists. It is like an oil slick for cars – hard to find traction, resulting in uncontrollable  fishtailing. Adding to that, our shoes are fastened to the pedals with cheats, so falls are common. Worse still, the sand is peppered with rocks, many pointy and sharp, as they break off from the rock face immediately to our left. And as a final touch, we are often on a cliff face, with a fall away to oblivion immediately to our right.

Under these conditions, our progress was slow, our tension high, and our enjoyment variable (it was still breathtakingly beautiful). A route that should have taken us 4 hours instead took 10. 

Still, I count this day as a clear win. Some highlights:

A mother mouse and her tiny baby burst from the woods right in front of us.

Lost at one point, we did some off route trekking and discovered a delightful wild flower meadow.

Much of our route was bordered by purple flowers.

The ridge ride between Summerland and Penticton is breathtaking ( especially the points where it suddenly narrows to a foot across).

We are in cherry country  during cherry season

5 Responses

  1. Yeah Steve
    You made it!
    What a great idea to ride there!!
    Yay for rain gear
    We wouldn’t have had it back then
    Cold wet (10% 😂 )dangerous mountains
    What an adventure!!

  2. Give me a call when you need a little bit of prayer. I have a friend who has a friend who is in really tight with God.

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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.”