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67-year-old Anderson motorcyclist powers through Parkinson's Disease

Thursday July 11, 2013

Mike Foley

Greenville News - After a pair of bike rides across the country and a 16,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back, Steve Quam isn’t ready to rest.

For the past three years, Quam, a 67-year-old Anderson resident, has proved that having Parkinson’s Disease is no reason to limit yourself. So, he hasn’t.

“I’m doing pretty good,” Quam said by phone last week about his health. “I did have a joint transplant in my left big toe due to arthritis. But I still seem able to ride my bike and motorcycle.”

Five-and-a-half years ago, Quam was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The disease cannot be cured. Most people start with uncontrollable tremors, and those progress while normal bodily functions including breathing, balance, movement and heart function worsen as well.

Quam has recently been plagued by extreme daytime fatigue. That makes logging a lot of miles on his bicycle or motorcycle difficult.

“But if I go at my own pace, I can do fine,” he said.

Doing fine is one way Quam copes with the disease. In fact, he rides to help bring awareness and dollars to the fight to cure Parkinson’s. This year, he’ll undertake another epic journey, riding his motorcycle to Colorado and then participating in the Copper Triangle, a grueling 78-mile mountainous bike ride that includes passing through Leadville, Colo., the city at the highest elevation city in the U.S.

Here’s a recap of his exploits in the past four years, all of which benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s:

• 2010: Bicycled 4,224 miles from Anacortes, Wash., to Edisto Island.

• 2011: Motorcycled 16,140 miles round-trip from Anderson to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back. In the middle of the motorcycle trip, Quam — who had his bike mailed to him in Colorado — rode the Copper Triangle. He calls that 14-hour, 41-minute journey “the hardest one day bicycle ride of my life.”

• 2012: Bicycled from Edisto Island to Newport, Ore., for a total of 3,631 miles.

• 2013: Will ride his motorcycle from Anderson to Colorado — with his bicycle strapped to it — and then reprise his 2011 ride in the Copper Triangle event, before riding his motorcycle back home.

Quam left home today at 9 a.m. on his way west. But, on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Quam will ride to Travelers Rest and back on the Greenville Health System’s Swamp Rabbit Trail before a dessert social is held in his honor at St. Matthew United Methodist Church, 701 Cleveland St.

A shorter 10-mile ride from Grandview Cemetery in Travelers Rest to the church starts at 3 p.m.

“These rides and endeavors give me goals to work on,” Quam said. “They keep me from dwelling on the negative.”

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