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Steve’s Blog – Sept 1&2 – je me souveins – Montreal (Laval), Quebec to Trois Riviere and
then Rivière du Loup

We are back to RV living once more. Our time in Quebec will be short but the impact is high.
Based on Jim 2’s recommendation we travel east along the north St. Lawrence shore. That is
where we find the lovely “green trail” system. The trail is occasionally astounding, occasionally
frustrating, and in sum a great step forward.
Our route takes us along fresh, smooth trails through woods with overhanging trees and
bountiful garden flowers. Cycling paradise. But then reality hits, and we are ejected onto the
street into unreliable bike lanes that abruptly end for construction, have inscrutable traffic
signals, and with surfacing that has been patched so many times with new asphalt that
potholes become spelunkable. Just as dichotomous are the skills of drivers, which can be
courteous, but also with more close calls and near misses than the rest of our trip combined.
We notice that other cyclists rarely return our friendly waves, and pedestrians are frequently
startled by our bell chime when passing, suggesting it is rarely done. On the other hand, we see
way, way more cyclists here than anywhere else.
We make our way down the St Lawrence Seaway for two days, stopping first in Trois Rivière
and then in Rivière d’ Loup. The first day was a hard one – 140 km and 670 m elevation. The
second night is a crazy success – we start slow ish, and enjoy the scenery. There is a gentle
tailwind, that slowly increases in speed over the course of the day, and so do we.
By mid-day we are surprised at our morning success and decided to aim for our furthest
optional destination for the day – a daunting 206 km with 750km verticle. This would be the
longest ride ever for both of us but, nonetheless, we made it. More incredibly, we both do it with
an overall avg speed better than 30km/hr. This is the new high water mark for our cycling
abilities. For two older men with a movement disorder, should we still be improving? Well, we
are.
Off to New Brunswick tomorrow.

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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.”