Last Friday I got the opportunity to meet a group of extraordinary people: the Parky’s Peddlers. The Peddlers are a multigenerational team of sixteen cyclists who this month rode nearly 1,100 miles from British Columbia to San Francisco to raise awareness of and funds for research on Parkinson’s Disease. On June 8th they started out from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia (not to be confused with Vancouver!) riding 60 to 80 miles a day for 15 days down the Pacific coast towards their finish line at the Golden Gate bridge. When staff at the Parkinson’s Institute and the Parkinson’s Patient Support Group learned of the Peddlers’ endeavor, they decided it would be wonderful to usher the Peddlers in to San Francisco with a “welcoming committee” of local cyclists. But where could one find such local cyclists? Here is where I enter the story. Back in April, Passerelle had helped host a Parkinson’s Institute event in Passerelle’s bicycle shop at 359 State Street in downtown Los Altos. (As a side note, this April 24th reception was quite moving - Dr. Bill Langston, founder and CEO of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale was celebrated by both the mayors of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills for his award of a Pritzker Prize for his research on the disease). Through this connection, it was established that I: a) care about Parkinsons (my grandfather had PD) and b) am a local cyclist. They asked if I would be interested in organizing the welcome ride, and I willingly obliged.
So, on Friday June 22 I set out in blustery weather with two hardy compatriots, Ken and Sean, to welcome the Parky’s Peddlers to San Francisco after their gorgeous yet grueling ride down the coast. They had been staying in Tomales Bay the night before, so had around 60 miles to ride before getting to the Golden Gate. Our welcoming posse started out in Crissy Field, biked over the bridge, and then up along their ride route until we found them. Since they weren’t familiar with their surroundings (and had over 1,000 miles worth of fatigue in their bodies at that point!) it became an adventure to find them, an unintentional game of “Marco Polo” or “Hot & Cold”: Us: “Where are you guys now?” Them: “We’re coming down a big hill...?” (We bike to the big hill). Us: “Where are you now?” Them: “We’re near a running track...?” (We bike to the running track, they’d already passed). We finally spotted the group up ahead near the Sausalito houseboats, all in white and blue Parky’s Peddlers jerseys, hooray! We rode with them through Sausalito, hanging out for a brief coffee break before tackling that last big hill leading up to the Golden Gate. At the vista point, overlooking San Francisco gleaming white and silver in the distance, and with the Golden Gate rising nobly into the swirling fog, the riders hugged with euphoria and took grinning and triumphant pictures with bicycles raised above their heads. They did it! All the more impressive because of the group’s diversity: two of the riders have Parkinsons, others had never ridden long distances before, and the age range spanned from teenagers to grandparents. It was an honor to witness the strength and perseverance of the Parky’s Peddlers - let it be a lesson to all of us that even in the face of adversity or disease, anything is possible with enough heart and determination.