Ben Brock stands on the Kal Beach dock with his bike that he will ride in Alberta Tuesday

Ben Brock stands on the Kal Beach dock with his bike that he will ride in Alberta Tuesday

Dad inspires Parkinson’s ride

Ben Brock will ride his bike 313 kilometres through the Rocky Mountains to try and make a difference

Ben Brock will ride his bike 313 kilometres through the Rocky Mountains to try and make a difference.

Brock will depart Tuesday morning from Canmore and ride up the Ice Fields Parkway into Jasper to raise money for Parkinson’s disease.

“The inspiration for this ride comes from my dad,” said Brock.

Brock’s father, Gary, 73, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 23 years ago. The disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Notable people who have the disease are Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali.

“To grow up beside him, suffering inside a body that is no longer under his control, when his body is shaking off its hinges, never a word of complaint, but instead hearing his contagiously positive outlook on life fuels my get up and go,” said Brock.

Brock came to Canada in 2007 from Brisbane, Australia, on a 12-month trip and has stayed ever since. He now lives in Vernon where he is a landscaper.

The Aussie will be teaming up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a group dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinon’s through aggressive research. The foundation has invested over $350 million since its establishment in 2000.

Since joining forces with the foundation, Brock has been overwhelmed by the support he has received.

“I’m blown away by the generosity and goodwill from people here in Vernon, back home in Australia, Europe and even Dubai.”

Brock was aiming to raise $20 for each km, leaving him with a total $6,260. He was shocked to find out that he has accumulated over $8,000 a week before the big day. Every dollar he raises will go straight to the MJFF and put into research to finding better treatments and a cure to this disease.

The five-foot-11, 160-pound Brock isn’t built like a tank by any means, but he has an enthusiasm for riding bikes and has been active ever since he was a kid.

Growing up on the sunshine coast in Australia, Brock was a big surfer, a cyclist and a rower. He competed for Queensland in several national regattas over 10 years.

In order to prepare himself for the marathon bike, Brock has knocked off a few 200 km practices in the past year, including one 280 km session last summer.

“Unfortunately, every time I plan for a big practice run the weather seems to be around 36 degrees,” joked Brock. “Hopefully it’s a little cooler than that in the Rockies.”

He will be accompanied by his girlfriend, Michelle, who will follow him in her van.

“We are going to fill the van up with waters and peanut butter and honey sandwiches to get the calories turning over for the day,” smiled Brock.

Brock decided on the location a while back when he was driving through the parkway one summer.

“I remember thinking, ‘hey, this looks like a nice place to go for a ride.’ I never thought it would be for a ride over 300 km.”

Brock’s weapon of choice will be his Felt F3 road bike.

“It’s is something streamline and lightweight,” said Brock.

As for any future fund-raisers, Brock is focusing on the task at hand.

“Right now it’s one step at a time. Let me survive this one before I plan anything else. I do see myself continuing support until we find an answer,” said Brock.

For those interested in donating, it’s simple. Head to the Michael J. Fox Foundation website and search for the Ben Brock page. Once there, click the donate now button on the side. People can donate as much as they want before, during and after the race.