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Steve’s Blog – Sept 6-7 – extreme cycling – Clearview NB to Fredricton and Petticodiac

We have been cycling up a storm lately. In the past 8 days we have cycled 1,039 km, with an
average distance of 148.4 km/day. During that time I twice reset my longest distance ever
cycled in a day, and Jim had one as well. Details below, for those who care about cycling stats.
Thanks to a referral from former CBC Radio news anchor Robert Fisher, we had the chance to
meet Harry Forestell, who anchors the CBC Radio news in Fredericton. Harry dropped by our
Fredericton RV site for a chat, and even listened in as Jim and I had a CBC Radio interview with
his colleague. Two things about Harry: he has Parkinson’s and he is an uncommonly friendly,
bright and pleasant fellow, who manages to maintain a stressful job despite his condition. I am
eager to learn how he does it..
This morning would be our last “big” ride. We estimate that the remaining rides will be 100km or
less, (I still can’t believe that we are at a point where 100km is not a monumental event that
would take a week or more of training to achieve.) Today’s route wound up being longer than
planned and, in fact, became my all-time longest ride, at 209.7 km. But to add to that, this day in
New Brunswick was also the most vertical that Jim or I have climbed throughout this entire
cross-Canada trip; not BC, not Northern Ontario, not Quebec. It was also the most vertical that I

have ever climbed in one day: 2,174 m (Jim’s was slightly less as he stopped due to the late
hour and a sore knee, but he will be adding the remainder to his ride tomorrow.
I am so proud of this ride, though it came at a cost: I had to ride home alone in the dark, albeit
with lights all over my bike.
Peaceful sleep awaits.

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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.”