Walter Reich dipped his bike’s back tire into the Pacific Ocean off Tofino’s MacKenzie Beach Friday morning before setting off on a country-wide ride to raise funds for Parkinson’s Disease.
Reich, 70, and his wife Regula recently retired after selling their Quiet Bay Log Motel and Cafe in Magnetawan, Ontario, and the couple is excited to fulfill their lifelong dream of seeing the country.
“I want to see the country and not by a car. You see more by bicycle than by the car,” Reich told the Westerly News. “It’s a stress relief and it’s a passion too. I always bicycle. When I was in Ontario, I’d always go on the same road and I’m getting tired of that.”
Regula will be travelling in an RV alongside Walter and the pair have dedicated their experience to raising funds and awareness for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease as well as the medical professionals who care for them.
“They want to connect with people dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and hear their stories, as they are biking across Canada for them,” reads a GoFundMe page they’ve set up at www.gofundme.com/walter-and-giant. “We can all make a difference in someone’s life!”
“I want to bring awareness to that so that people can get some more information and some help,” Reich told the Westerly.
He said he cycled roughly 6,000 kilometres while working full-time last year and he’s confident he’ll be able to complete the country-wide ride
“I don’t want to speed. I’ll just take the time to go,” he said noting he’ll likely enjoy “the downhills more than uphills.”
Along with raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease, Reich also hopes his ride inspires others to get active.
“I’m at the age of 70, so this gives some encouragement to the younger guys to get their buts off the couch and get onto a bicycle,” he said. “You just have to put your mind to it, get out and do some exercise.”
As they set off from MacKenzie Beach, Walter and Regula were cheered on by the District of Tofino’s Chief Administrative Officer Bob MacPherson, Manager of Public Spaces, Cultural and Visitor Initiatives April Froment, Fire Chief Brent Baker and Crystal Cove Beach Resort’s Holgar Konarski and JJ Belanger.
“When Walter and his wife Regula contacted the District about his planned cycling trip across Canada to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease we were so pleased that he wanted to kick off his journey on the beach in Tofino,” Froment told the Westerly News. “Parkinson’s disease has touched the lives of many people in our community and we were happy to do what we could to make the start of his journey a success.”