The next time you consider skipping a bike ride because it’s drizzling, or it isn’t sunny, or you didn’t get your 8 hours the previous night, remember about Steve Quam.
The 68-year-old bicyclist from Anderson, S.C., suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder that gets worse with time. In spite of that, he’s riding a self-contained bicycle tour across the US to raise money and awareness about the disease. He explains his mission and regularly shares his diary at his Pedal for Parkinsons website.
Quam left the Seattle area in late May and has made it as far as Moulton, Alabama. He told a reporter for the Moulton Advertiser:
“You slowly lose control of things that used to be automatic, like riding a bicycle. … Exercise is essential to maintaining movement for people with Parkinson’s Disease. I do it to raise awareness about the disease and its symptoms.”
The disease can start with a slight tremor in a person’s hand, then progress to a point where walking is slow and stiff, and people suffer rigidity and shaking. Eventually dementia can set in as well as depression.
For Quam, about six years ago he noticed that he couldn’t control his fingers to play the flute. He later received his diagnosis.
A life-long bicyclist, he has kept up with his riding to keep his muscles functioning.
Quam raises money for the Davis Phinney Foundation, which was launched by the pro cyclist to help others with the disease. Quam said every dollar he raises is matched by Taylor Phinney, Davis’ son and himself a pro rider.
Quam plans to finish up on Edisto Island, S.C.
He usually rides about 30 to 50 miles a day on his bike, pulling a trailer that carries gear and a sign that explains his mission.
When I consider what Quam goes through everyday to ride his bicycle, I’m inspired to keep riding as well.