Interview 009: Walter Reich | 70 Year Old Biking Across Canada to Raise Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

Just after arriving back to Canada, I was making breakfast while my aunt and wife were watching TV. All of a sudden they tell me there is a 70 year old guy riding across Canada and that I should get him on my podcast. I searched him on facebook, sent a quick email, and his PR Manager got back to me the same day, telling me he’d be happy to sit down with me.

It was great to have the opportunity to sit with Walter for an hour and talk about his tour, and get another entire different perspective to bike touring. That’s what Bike Tour Adventures is all about. Seeking people that ride for different reasons. Walter was tired of riding in circles and really wanted to do a point-A to point-B tour. 

Canada is our second home, so I says we always want to see the country, and then two years ago, I said, “well, maybe I can do it with a bicycle.”

As a lifelong cyclist, Walter is different than other bike tourers I’ve had the opportunity to meet. He’s not in his 20s or 30s, and he doesn’t carry much gear with him. If you didn’t know that his wife Regula was just not too far away driving their RV, you would think that Walter was just another guy on a road-bike, out for a ride. You would never guess that he is on an 8000km tour across our great nation.

Walter has been very fortunate in recruiting someone to work as his PR Manager throughout this tour and fundraiser for Parkinson’s Disease. Sylvia has been a legend in the planning department, arranging free camping and hotels along the way, contacting Parkinson’s support groups throughout Canada to have Walter meet up with, and engaging with local communities along the way by having Walter stop at Home Hardware stores and do public talks about his tour and fundraising goals. 

  Sylvia called and said, “you know Michael J. Fox is the first guy that followed you.” Who is that? I had no idea.

The good thing about having a PR Manager and a wife driving the RV is that it leaves Walter to focus on cycling everyday without the hassle of all these other things to think about. This allowed Walter to focus on the challenges of climbing the Rocky Mountains, dealing with the cold and wet April weather, and cycling into a headwind the entire way across the Prairies. Aside from the tough times, Walter and Regula had the chance to see some truly spectacular sights. Some noteworthy places Walter talked about in the podcast were Tofino, the Osoyoos Valley in British Colombia, riding the Crowsnest Highway and going through the Crowsnest Pass, getting a welcome home treatment when coming back through Ontario, and spending Canada Day in Ottawa.

Moving forward, Walter and Regula have a bit of a timeline to keep pace with, as they are flying off to Switzerland for 6 weeks to visit family before coming back to finish the ride to Newfoundland. With a total distance of around 8000km and 4.5 months of riding, Walter will have accomplished the dream of many a cyclist and hopefully he will also achieve his fundraising goals. You can click the link below to go to his Go Fund Me page. Due to lack of involvement and support by Parkinson’s Canada, Walter has decided that  all money raised will be put back into the Parkinson’s support groups he has met along the way. However, if people want to donate to Parkinson’s Canada, they can also do that.

I really would like to invite those people who have a [say] for the road construction for paved shoulders…. It would be much safer, even for the truck drivers, if the cyclists [were] off the road. 

Follow Walter on his tour at:
Click shopping cart to go to his Go Fund Me page

Show Notes

~ 30 sec       Introduction to episode
~ 1m 45s     Walter tells us a bit about himself, road biking in Canada, and the desire for a bigger ride
~ 3m 30s     Planning his route across Canada, getting away from the major roads, getting a PR Manager
~ 6 min        Leaving Tofino, B.C. on April 12th, getting free accommodations, and fire truck escorts.
~ 11 min      Why Walter decided to fundraise for Parkinson’s Disease
~ 14 min      Support from Parkinson’s Canada….or lack thereof, and why Walter is donating the money he fundraises to the actual support groups he meets along the way.
~ 18 min      Hope, B.C. reminds Walter’s wife of Switzerland, about the Tour de Swiss, and crossing the Rockies to get out of B.C.
~ 21 min      Osoyoos Valley and cycling the Crow’s Nest Highway are must-see beautiful parts of Canada
~ 23m 30s   The North-Easterly wind of the Prairies, pedalling for hours and not even seeing a house in Saskatchewan
~ 27 min      Black bike clothes are better for touring so they don’t look dirty
~ 28m 30s   The dangerous road from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, cutting through the US, taking highway 11 instead of highway 17
~ 32m 30s   The real reason they started on April 12th and the Terry Fox connection
~ 35 min      Using a road-bike for a long distance tour, riding in the cold April weather, riding through mosquito and deer fly season
~ 40 min      Managing temperature when riding in cold weather, route through the east coast, taking a break in Switzerland, getting a one-way ferry to P.E.I.
~ 47 min      Going more in-depth with Parkinson’s Disease, importance of early detection, and the need to keep fit
~ 53 min      The most memorable moments: people they meet, support they receive
~ 55m 30s   Wishing he would have waited for warmer weather and lack of support from Parkinson’s Canada
~ 58 min      A small rant on Canada’s road shoulders and how unsafe unpaved shoulders are, riding fast on bike paths in Ottawa, and crappy roads in Quebec
~ 1h 4m       In next week’s episode, Heart to Beat with Harry and Roelie

About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.
1 comment on “Interview 009: Walter Reich | 70 Year Old Biking Across Canada to Raise Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease
  1. Cindy Looper says:

    I am from Nevada, USA.. I started on Organic Herbal Clinic Parkinson’s Disease Herbal formula treatment in September 2018, i read a-lot of positive reviews on their success rate treating Parkinson’s disease through their PD Herbal formula and i immediately started on the treatment. Just 11 weeks into the Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements with speech and coordination, my hand tremors seized and the stiffed, rigid muscle had succumbed. I am unbelievably back on my feet again, this is a breakthrough for all Parkinson’s sufferers, visit Organic Herbal Clinic official website ww w. organicherbalclinic. com

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