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Bloomington native rests in Hastings on path to third coast-to-coast bike ride

Steve Quam is pictured with his bicycle and trailer outside United Methodist Church in Hastings. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)

The day Steve Quam rode his bicycle into Hastings, he didn’t know where he was going to sleep that night. But by midday, he had connected with United Methodist Church here and was settling in to rest and recharge before pedaling out the next day on his 4,500-mile journey.

Quam, a resident of Anderson, S.C., is originally from Bloomington. He’s 68 years old and on his third coast-to-coast bicycle ride since 2010.

Quam has been bicycling since he was 6 years old, but only lately has he turned his passion into his cause. In 2008, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Quam decided to team up with the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s to raise awareness for Parkinson’s and the Davis Phinney Foundation.

The Davis Phinney Foundation is one of the smaller foundations raising funds for Parkinson’s, and since those involved aren’t able to raise large amounts of money like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and others like it, its organizers decided to take a different approach. They, and now Quam, are using their expertise and funds to teach people how to live well with Parkinson’s, Quam said.

The message

The main point Quam is hoping to spread across the nation is that those with Parkinson’s can still live their life.

“You still can have a very fulfilling life,” he said.

One of the ways to accomplish that is by exercise, since regular exercise helps manage the symptoms of the disease, he said. Quam has experienced the benefit himself. On his last major ride in 2012, he rode about 2,000 miles before experiencing any tremors from his Parkinson’s, and when the tremors did start, they came on in a situation of high stress.

Quam is also working to make people more aware of the link between Parkinson’s and depression. Of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, about 90 percent are also diagnosed with depression, he said. Part of his personal journey has been trying to figure out why he’s part of the “lucky 10 percent,” he said.

He said he figures it’s because he expected the diagnosis, since others in his family had also been diagnosed. He’s also kept a strong sense of humor about it and was also open about his illness from the beginning, “not for sympathy, but for people to understand,” he said.

The ride

Quam started this ride in May in Bellingham, Wash. There, he dipped the tires of his bicycle into the Pacific Ocean and got on his way. He estimated this trip will take a total of about five months to complete.

There has been a major hiccup in this trip already that is likely to force Quam to finish his ride next spring.

In Havre, Mont., he was hit from behind by a car driving at highway speeds, he said. The trailer he was towing with his gear was crushed and he was sent flying, but he somehow managed to get up from the crash with only scratches and bruises. After the crash, he resumed his ride in Fargo, N.D. The stretch between Havre and Fargo he plans to complete next spring, he said.

After spending about 20 hours in Hastings, Quam rode north out of town to cross the Mississippi and then east to Prescott. From there he planned to follow the Mississippi to Tennessee, and then turn south-east to Edisto Island, S.C., where he’ll wet his tires in the Atlantic Ocean.

For more about Quam and his mission, go to