2017: a good year for bikes and Parkinson’s

We’ve been working hard to let everyone know that this year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of An Essay on the Shaking Palsy by James Parkinson. He was a remarkable man: an east London surgeon, apothecary, social activist and fossil hunter.

For people with Parkinson’s, that’s not the only 2017 anniversary! It’s also 20 years since the role of the protein alpha-synuclein in some genetic forms of Parkinson’s was first elucidated.

Finally, we can neatly tie the Parkinson’s and cycling themes together because 1817 also saw the unveiling of Baron Karl von Drais’s new invention the Draisine, the first ever vehicle with two wheels in line. Here’s the Baron himself, apparently taking a pleasant tour around the Mannheim countryside:

Karl von Drais on his machine

For our trip to Durham we hope to be using something a little more up-to-date…

Day One

Safely arrived in Upton. Bit knackered but no disasters. Thanks to everybody who got up early this morning to give us such a wonderful send off from Squitchey Lane. Also thank you to everyone for their fantastically generous donations and for all the encouragement and support you have given us.

We had a really good ride today. The weather was perfect and we have been through some lovely countryside and lots of picturesque villages (see pic above). We picked up NCR 5 at Bedbroke which took us to Bloxham. Some was off road and quite tricky after the rain but Nigel coped really well. After Bloxham, there were more hills and we were getting tired so the last part was quite tough.

Tomorrow we’re going to Leamington and will stay with Nick and Ann. Not so far as today and maybe less hills (some hope)

Relaxing now in this lovely garden and Poppy our host is cooking our dinner – what luxury

Day Two

Arrived safely in Leamington Spa. One or two slight hitches but no major disasters. The plan was to pick up NCR 48 after Edgehill but we managed to sail past the turning as we flew down a steep hill which of course entailed pushing the bikes back up to get ourselves back on track. This made a slightly dispiriting start to the day!

Generally the waymarking was not as good today so there was rather more stopping to read the map. There was also some really heavy downpours and Nigel’s chain fell off! On the plus side, there was some lovely sunshine between the rain and lots of quiet and beautiful lanes and paths. We navigated the tow path beside the Grand Union successfully.

Lovely to be with Nick and Ann this evening. Now dried out, clean and having a beer! Tomorrow is a city day. Warwick, Kenilworth, Coventry and Nuneaton.

Day Three

A long and difficult day! We set off from Leamington along the tow path by the Grand Union Canal. Had to walk some sections because of the path being very narrow. We successfully joined NCR 52 in Warwick and made good progress until the route was blocked by a fallen tree. Found a way round and negotiated Kenilworth and Coventry city centre OK.

Still on NCR 42, we joined the Coventry Canal towpath. Very slow. We walked quite a bit. Some annoying gateways that were very tricky to get the bikes round. At Hawksbury Lock we decided to go on the road for a bit only to find the road over the canal was closed! Carried the bikes over a foot bridge. Cycled through Bedworth then joined the towpath again.

This was much easier going and we were making good progress until Nigel skidded due catching on some brambles and fell off. After some rudimentary first aid, amazingly he bravely got back on the bike and pedalled on. He’s got some bruises and minor cuts and grazes but we think he has hurt his shoulder. We’ll decide what to do tomorrow. On the plus side he did manage to walk to the pub in the village!