Dan McGuire of Port Coquitlam, B.C., passed through P.E.I. recently as part of his near 10,000-kilometre trek across Canada to raise money for Parkinson's research and awareness about the disease. McGuire was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2007.
©THE GUARDIAN/Jim Day
On first contact, Dan McGuire appears to be a weak, old man.
He has had Parkinson’s disease for seven years and the neurodegenerative disease has slowed his movement and softened his speech.
He walks hunched over, seemingly entranced by his feet, shuffling forward at a snail’s pace. He speaks in a difficult to discern whispered mumble.
But when the 81-year-old resident of Port Coquitlam, B.C., settles into his low sitting tricycle, he becomes a determined man in motion. He pedals with confidence and steers with a deft touch as he fearlessly navigates his bike amidst motor vehicle traffic.
McGuire spent many years cycling on a touring bike. Three times he completed the Paris-Brest-Paris 1,200 Brevet within the 90-hour limit.
He continued riding a touring bicycle even after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007. He would be fine while pedalling, but take a tumble now and again once he tried to stop.
He kept getting back on the bike simply because it brought him pleasure.
“I like cycling,’’ he says.
He rode a touring bike until last March before shifting to the sitting tricycle.
His well-equipped three-wheeler has covered quite a chunk of real estate on McGuire’s cycling journey to touch Canada’s farthest reaches.
He is raising awareness and he is raising funds for a disease that affects more than 100,000 Canadians and currently has no cure.
Pedalling around P.E.I. last week, McGuire has to date covered more than 9,000 kilometres of his planned trek of near 10,000 kilometres. He expects to complete the journey in one week by rolling into Cape Spears, N.L.
His most productive day to date has been an impressive 120-kilometre or so pedal. The shortest outing came in at about 30 kilometres.
On average, though, the octogenarian rolls along in his sitting trike for a good 75- to 80-kilometre daily trek.
The toughest part of the ambitious adventure, informs McGuire, is quite understandable.
“Cycling uphill,’’ he says.
McGuire has not had any notable mishap and remarkably has only encountered two flat tires.
He never came close to calling off his remarkable journey. After cycling all those thousands of kilometres, he still feels good, though his back is sore.
To learn more about McGuire’s journey or to support his effort, visit www.pdchampions.kintera.org/dansjourney.