The Parkinson’s Cycle

What goes around comes around. That’s what they say, who they are is inconsequential, not inconsequential as individuals just in the sense that it doesn’t matter in this instance exactly who they are, not really.

Now that was some quality rambling and we haven’t even got to any point yet, far less an important meaning of life type point.

Where was I? Oh yes ‘goes around’ rather like the wheels on the bus, or in this instance the wheels on the bike. Let me introduce you to my mountain bike ‘The Mighty One’ (OK, i nicked the name from The Motor Cycle Diaries, if you haven’t seen it, please watch it, if you have enough time to read this nonsense you certainly have time to watch that  great film).

Stunning scenery just before attempt to break records cycling down Birnam Hill
Stunning scenery just before attempt to break records cycling down Birnam Hill

Cycling around on the Mighty One has allowed me to carry out an extensive study over the last few weeks and I have come to certain conclusions which I feel should now be documented and included in medical journals across the globe. I can already hear the doctors and professors et al bristling with indignation at the cheek of this statement but to all of those doubters I will ask this simple medical question. ‘Do you know how to cure hiccups?’ No. I thought not. I don’t know how to cure hiccups either and until they make that scientific break through we are all on the same level. So put that in your petri dish and smoke it! (more rambling, this could take ages to write)

Before I reveal the stunning study findings I should tell you about one of my cycle jaunts. Across the road from me is a hill, Birnam Hill, in the heart of Perthshire in Scotland. After walking up this hill many times over the last 6 or 7 years, I had developed an idea that it would be tremendous craic to take the bike up and come tearing down the hill like some speed possessed teenager. This idea burned a whole in my brain where sense should have been, until one morning last week I could take it

Archie & Hamish
Archie & Hamish

no more. Off the 3 of us went one very sunny morning, the 2 flat coat retrievers and me. As we turned from my normal route and the incline increased, so did the rate of my breathing, unabashed I dismounted and pushed the bike steadily uphill, a red glow coming off my madly perspiring brow, but onwards and upwards I pushed on. The pedals from time to time crunching into my calves or shins to remind me that the Mighty One was still there. The rocky outcrop was in sight, unfortunately the dogs were not, but regardless of my canine pals disappearance, I strode on, finally reaching the pinnacle. Now it was time for a brief rest and photo opportunity before I got on my gallant steed called out to the dogs, my breathing had come back to somewhere around 70 breaths a minute. Now was the time, my idea, my dream of the steepest downhill route I had ever been on.

Birnam Hill
A nifty use of the timer app on Iphone camera

I fair threw myself off the rocky start point and 7.5 seconds later the Might One and me took a mighty leap off the path and into a rhododendren bush. What a laugh! Off I went again, this time lasting 3 seconds as the path steepened and the turn sharpened and I screamed louder. At this point I realised my dream of being a downhill champ had faded in the dusty road. So after pushing the bike all the way up Birnam Hill, I pushed the flaming thing all the way back down again. Mighty One? Aye, right!

However this was at the end of the cycling study and obviously I was pushing boundaries, a little too far you say, (fair point) but in my defence I did at least try and even before the onset on Parkinson’s I had never dared to try. (is there a study on risk assessment in Parkinson’s?)

Back to my study and conclusions.

trust me I know hw to spell hiccups, hiccooughs


  • One person (me) cycling every second day, more than I had for the previous 10 years or more
  • Drug regime remains a constant throughout the study (see Dr Doubter, there was a constant)
  • Cycle up track, around by loch and down the other side, distance around 8 miles
  • Dogs carrying sticks running alongside bike for that extra bit of danger
  • Examine fitness before and after the study period, benchmarking on time and knackeredness


  • Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder
  • Cycling up hills keeps you fit
  • The fitter you are the more Parkinsons has to work to erode that fitness.


  • Dogs have no sense
  • Cycling uphill gets you tired quickly
  • You cycle faster when someone is in sight
  • Going wheeeeeeeeeeee down a steep bumpy hill is like being free from Parkinson’s

In a nutshell thats it, that last bullet point, the tremor from Parkinsons is gone as you hurtle down a hill and you feel at one with yourself, the dogs and the Mighty One. One word of caution, be aware not to hurtle too fast or push too far beyond your ability as the tremor from fear is just as bad as the shaking palsy.

Take care out there and step on the pedals

Slainte Mhath



One Comment Add yours

  1. Phil Brammer says:

    Yeah well I thought you were probably a bit crazy, John. A very entertaining and heartening article. Thanks!

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