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In March 2017, Paul Gully and Lois Leslie departed on what was supposed to be an eighteen month long cycling trip from Lisbon, Portugal to Auckland, New Zealand, raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease.
They intended to cycle from Portugal across three continents to New Zealand to complete a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, an extended journey that began with their cycle across Canada in 2013. Their route was to take them through southern Europe, across Turkey and the Caucasus, India, South-east Asia, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
However, on May 10, 2017, the trip came to an unexpected halt. While cycling from Sanremo on the Via Aurelia, Italy, Paul was hit by a car from behind, suffering a cracked vertebra, broken ribs, pneumothoraces, numerous cuts and abrasions and severe nerve pain in his shoulders and arms. Fortunately, due to the fantastic care of the trauma team in Pietra Ligure (and Lois’ love!), Paul began a difficult but steady recovery that has continued after the couple arrived back in Vancouver. Remarkably, despite some persistent nerve pain, he is already resuming his exercise regime!
Paul and Lois will not let this stop them as they intend to go back to Italy in the fall to continue the trip. They will merely be “shifting gears” as they embark on foot and by public transportation, at first, but hope to be back on their bikes again in Australia and New Zealand!
Why are they doing this? They have witnessed the drastic changes that come with Parkinson’s disease in the 25 years that their close friend Marg de Grace has lived with the condition. Marg and Lois are life-long friends, having first met in high school in the 1960’s. Marg and her husband Allan have kept in touch with Lois and Paul over the decades. They manage to visit each other regularly, and they all share a commitment to staying active.
When Lois and Paul mentioned they wanted to plan a cycling trip to benefit those affected by Parkinson's disease, Marg suggested that they consider Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC). Marg explains, “I believe that it is important to focus the donations in the places where it will be most effective. This is best achieved by directing the funds through PSBC to the local Parkinson’s community.”
Lois and Paul hope to raise $50,000 during the course of their trip, which is expected to wrap up in October 2018. Marg, Allan, Lois and Paul are working together to raise awareness of and funds for Parkinson's Disease programs and research. While Paul and Lois are away, Marg and Allan will be coordinating efforts back home in Vancouver.
Here is a map of their planned route:
You can read about their journey via their blog, donate to their cause, or follow them on Twitter (@PaulRGully).
- March 9 - Lois & Paul arrive in Lisbon [read more]
- March 13 - The ride begins! They cycled to Torres Vedras to visit the Campus Neurológico Sénior. They met with and hosted by Dr. Joachim Ferreira, a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders [read more]
- March 14 - Lois & Paul visited a CNS facility, which offers a Movement Disorders Unit and an inpatient Neurorehabilitation Unit for people with Parkinson’s Disease [read more]
- March 15 - They cycled to Caldas da Rainha to Santarém (54km) [read more]
- March 17 - They cycled from Santarem to Fátima (60km) (AKA The Hilly Pilgrimage) [read more]
- March 18 - They cycled from Fátima to Pombal (52km) [read more]
- March 19 - They cycled from Pombal to Coimbra (40km) and enjoyed the week in Portugal [read more]
- March 21 & 22 - In one week, they learned to cycle in weather fluctuating from 25 degrees Celcius to 1 degrees celcius [read more]
- March 25 - They cycled Viseu to Celorico de Beira (56km) [read more]
- March 26 - They started an epic climb on the IP3 Celericos da Beira to São Miguel da Guarda (24km) [read more]
- March 27 - Their last cycling ride in Portugal São Miguel da Guarda to Vilar Formosa (42km) [read more]
- March 28 - They arrived in Spain and cycled Vilar Formosa to Ciudad Rodrigo (28km) [read more]
- March 29 - They cycled through Ciudad Rodrigo to Salamanca (89km) which looked like the Canadian Praries [read more]
- April 1 - They cycled Salamanca to Alaejos (55km) and had two sightings of Hoopoes. They also started and finished at the same point, traveling in one general direction, reaching two antipodes (two diametrically opposite places on Earth!) [read more]
- April 2 - They cycled Alaejos to Vallalodid (68km) [read more]
- April 3 & 4 - They cycled Valladolid to Torquemada-80 km and Toruemada to Burgo (92km) [read more]
- April 6 - They cycled Burgos to Santo Domingo de la Calzada (68km) through windy weather and heavy truck traffic [read more]
- April 7 & 8 - They cycled Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Logroño (52km) and Logroño to Estella (47km) [read more]
- April 9 - They cycled Estella to Pamplona (44km) [read more]
- April 10 & 11 - World Parkinson’s Day was on April 11. For Spain, the prevalence of PD, as estimated by these methods, is similar to that of other European countries and Canada, which translates into 300,000 persons in Spain with the condition. April 11 was the birthday of James Parkinson, who, in 1817, published ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’. The publication established Parkinson’s as an internationally recognized medical condition [read more]
- April 12 & 13 - They rode from Pamplona to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France (73km) and from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Oloron Ste. Marie (81km) [read more]
- April 14 & 15 - They cycled from Oloron Sainte Marie to Tarbes (68km) and from Tarbes to Saint Gaudens (67km) [read more]
- April 17 - They cycled from Saint Gaudens to Muret (73km) and hit the 1500km mark that day [read more]
- April 18 - They enjoyed their cycle from Muret to Villefranche-de-Lauragais (58km). They cycled the Canal du Midi as much as possible [read more]
- April 19 - They rode from Villefranche-de-Lauragais to Carcassonne (65km). Paul and Lois reflected on the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson's in maintaining strength, balance and prolonging independence [read more]
- April 21 - They cycled from Carcassonne to Beziers (75km) in cold weather [read more]
- April 22 - They cycled from Beziers to Montpellier (82km) [read more]
- April 30 - They visited their family in Paris. They cycled from Montpellier to Arles (80km) on the River Lez bike path. Today is the last day of Parkinson’s Awareness month [read more]
- May 1 - They cycled from Arles to Aix-en-Provence (88km) [read more]
- May 3 - They cycled from Aix-en-Provence to Manosque (53km) [read more]
- May 4 - They cycled in cold, gloomy weather and on a truck route from Manosque to Tavernes (45km) [read more]
- May 5 - They biked from Tavernes to Frejus (77km) [read more]
- May 6 - They cycled in heavy rain from Frejus to Cannes (43km) [read more]
May 8 - They biked from Cannes to Nice (32km). Paul and Lois note that a link between exposure to pesticides and PD has been previously suggested and a recent study* from France, first presented at the International Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in 2016**, provides strong evidence of such an association in men and women, including non-farmers. [read more]
- May 9 - They arrived in Italy [read more]
- May 10 - They were cycling from Sanremo to Km 631 Via Aurelia (41 km) when Paul was hit by a car. He is fortunately doing fine and is looking forward to continuing his journey [read more]
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