50,000 Miles and Still Cycling to Beat Parkinsons Disease

parky2He’s racked up 50,000 miles on his recumbent trike, enough to go twice around the earth but this is not a typical tale of an adventurer, pedaling through far off lands in the prime of youth.

This is the story of someone who didn’t start cycling until he was in his 50s and diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease.  His name is Jim Wetherell or “Parky” to his friends. For us, he just might be the most inspiring cyclist we’ve come across yet.

On his appropriately named website – I Never Give Up – we learned more about Parky.

His story started in 1995, when he noticed a quiver in his hands. Doctors diagnosed Parkinsons Disease and, for a while, life looked bleak. Parky’s marriage broke down. He became depressed. He needed something to focus on.

RxThat something, turned out to be cycling. Over the next 14 years, Parky rode his trike as much as possible. He overcame tremors, bladder problems and fatigue along the way, all brought on by Parkinsons Disease.

His achievements include a 500  mile trip through California and the 2006 RAGBRAI tour across Iowa. In May of 2009, Parky reached his goal of cycling 50,000 miles.

Describing his first long trip, Parky offered some wise words for any touring cyclist.

“To ride 450/500 miles is tough, but, bring along the right attitude (A 9 DAY RIDE – ONE DAY AT A TIME) will make the ride much more enjoyable. Setting a daily goal and just focusing on that goal, not only shortens the trip, but also tends to pump you up for tomorrow. And – a little bit of pride never hurt anyone!”

A sticker on his trike, made to look like a prescription label, also says a lot about Parky’s love of cycling.

“Take as directed to strengthen heart, lungs and muscles. Use 3X/week, 20 minutes per dose. For best results, wear spandex.”

This year, Parky will try to ride RAGBRAI again. He needs sponsors and he needs to train to stay in shape but if his previous efforts are anything to go by, we are sure he will achieve his goal.


  1. David H. (Spinner)
    31st January 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Attitude!!! I have a progressive nerologcical disease – Ataxia – and some of the symptoms are simulare to parkinsons. I’ve been riding my GreenSpeed recumbent trike ‘thinking and praying’ that it was a good thing to do. Has has turned out (over 26,000 miles and still going!) the progression of my disease has been … almost non-exsistant, to the Glory & praise of the Lord. I love hearing how recumbent triking has helped others – it’s just GREAT!
    God Bless

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