Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Big Ouch: What Happened Part Two

The one nice thing about being seriously injured is that you go to the front of the queue at Emergency. This was probably a good thing, as by the time the ambulance got me to VGH, my arm was really hurting and I could feel myself getting more uncomfortable. I was probably going into shock, perhaps not deeply, but going there.
As I was waiting to be admitted, one paramedic noted my discomfort and offered me a blanket. Being a stoic male, I declined the offer.
"Let me give you some advice," said the paramedic. "When a paramedic offers you a warm blanket, you should take it."
"Golly," I said, "maybe I'll take that blanket after all!"
It was now about 6:00, about an hour after I fell off my bike.
Soon, I was wheeled into a cubicle, where they quickly started me on an IV. A doctor came in, took a quick look and very quickly determined that at the very least my shoulder was dislocated. He asked if I had any numb patches and I indicated I did, on the side of arm. This could mean nerve damage.
Then he uttered the one word that I was longing to hear: morphine!
But soon I was left alone, and I reflected on my situation. I would need help tending to my sick cat. Someone was going to have to call work and let them know I was going to be off for a few days.
I looked at my arm. Man, I really wrecked it.
By this time, more of my guardians began arriving. First, my sister Brenda arrived, followed by my girlfriend Louise. Each time, the nurse mistook them for my wife.
My memory of events during this period is somewhat fluid, but somewhere between the blood tests and the IV drips, they took me to X-ray.
This was not an experience I'd like to repeat.
The x-rays taken while I was standing up weren't so bad, but I had to lie flat on my back for a set and this really hurt. I never saw any of the "before" X-rays until much later, but lying flat was excrutiating and I could clearly feel bones floating around in there. That was 20 minutes that I never want to repeat.
But interestingly, the numb patch in my arm regained feeling after the x-ray ordeal. I surmise that something moved just enough to take pressure off the nerve, and there were (and are) no more concerns about nerve damage.
I was taken back to my room to await judgement. Brenda and Louise both commented about how cold my hands were.
Soon, a young woman appeared, the orthopedic intern. She'd looked at x-ray, and reported that my arm was broken in three places and my shoulder dislocted. Worse, I had broken ay arm at the ball joint, making repairs all the more troublesome.
Here's the x-ray:

Now, I'm no doctor, but clearly you can see that the shoulder is out of the socket, and the ball is broken, and not in the correct shape.
She said there were two courses of action. I was going to need surgery on the arm, no question. But do we fix the dislocation with surgery at the same time, or do we fix the disocation manually, then do surgery on the arm later?
This didn't seem like much of a choice to me. If I'm going to go under the knife anyway, must as well do it all in one go.
But she wanted to call in some experts, so who am I to argue?
Somewhere along the way, the paramedic's gear was removed from my arm and replaced with a sling which I am still wearing. (I'm typing this one-handed, so please read this at half your usual reading speed to get the full effect.)
The intern returned with the verdict.
"When I suggested we fix the dislocation first, everyone laughed at me."
There were two problems with her plan. First, the ball was broken off. It was not attched to the rest of the arm. There was no way to re-insert the ball into the socket. It probably would have caused more damage. Secondly, even if it was safe to proceed, she probably couldn't have done it.
I'm a big guy, and she was not a big girl. (She made Chantelle at work look like Shaq.) She physically could not have done it and the last thing my broken arm needed was someone heaving and hauling on my shoulder.
She said she would start on the paperwork and took a felt pen and initialed my injured left shoulder.
So it was surgery, a one-stop fix everything chop. Sort of like Midas Mufflers.
Surgery was set fot 7:45 the next morning, not at VGH, but at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The only question was, could they find a bed for me there? An ambulance was ordered anyway to transfer me. Louise and Brenda said their goodbyes and headed out to spread the word that I would, in fact, live. They noted before they left that my hands were warming up.
A nurse returned with the paperwork for me to sign, but stopped herself before handing it over. It seems that the intern, despite having examined and marked my injured left shoulder, put down on the forms that it was my right shoulder that was to be operated on.
Once the paperwork was fixed, I signed. Good thing I'm right-handed.
So there it was. I was facing my first surgery since having my tonsils out when I was 5.
The orthopedic surgeon, my newest guardian, drove over from the Jubilee to examine me. He explained that the surgery would take about two and a half hours. I've heard since that he is the best "shoulder man" on the Island. So far, I'd have to agree.
Around about 11:30, an ambulance arrived to transport me to the Jubilee, they found a bed for me, so we were all set. They loaded me up, and away we went. It was a quiet night for emergencies, the paramedics said. The quietest night they'd ever seen. They'd been on duty for six hours, and I was their first call. And I was just a glorified taxi ride.
By 12:30, I was safely tucked in my bed in Jubilee. Surgery was mere hours away.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Big Ouch: What Happened Part One

It's an odd sensation, realizing that your bicycle has suddenly stopped but you haven't. That your handlebar has suddenly snapped to the right and stopped your bike cold while momentum is still carrying you forward. That not only are you flying over your handlebar but that you are twisting in mid-air to the right and are now travelling sideways, a change of direction that will probably save your life, but in this moment only adds to the disorientation.
Then you realize that the ground is getting closer. You barely have time to register that this is going to be bad. And that it's going to hurt.
It is bad. And it hurts.

Two and a half weeks ago I was riding my bike home following the path I do everyday. Part of the journey is a short trail connecting Burnside Road with the back of Tillicum Mall. On this day, dusk, 5:00 pm, water had washed out a pothole that had been filled by gravel back in the summer. Was the washout caused by all the rain we had received in November? Or was it run-off from the watermain that had burst in Tillicum Mall an hour previously? I don't know. All I do know is that as I went down the path, my front wheel caught the pothole and I flipped off my bike. There was a small culvert ahead of me with a concrete pad over top of it. I landed on the concrete pad with all my weight on my left shoulder.

The air rushed out of my lungs on impact. I bounced off my shoulder and onto my back (my backpack, actually). My legs swung up beside me and ended up in some bushes just off the trail. I'm not sure what happened to my bike. At least it didn't run over me.

I knew right away something was wrong with my left arm. It didn't feel "attached" properly. Still, I tried to gently move it, but the pain toldme that I had probably broken it. There was also the disquieting sensation of things rubbing together that should not be rubbing together.

Okay, so the left arm was clearly an issue. What else was broken? I hadn't hit my head (and yes, I always wear my helmet). I wiggled my toes, they seemed okay. My right arm seemed fine. It felt like I might have a scrarch on my left leg, but this was minor. Everything seemed up and running save my left arm.

I needed my cell phone which was in my backpack, and was now underneath me. Okay. This was gonna hurt, but there wasn't much else to do. Cradlling my left arm as best I could, I swivelled on my butt, getting my legs out of the bushes. Then I sat up.
Yes, it hurt.
I rested a moment, then cradled my left hand in my lap, then slowly unbuckled and removed my backpack.
I somehow managed to get my left arm out of the straps, then I opened it up and fished out my phone. I turned it on, hoping that it still had some juice. It did, I dialed 911. The operator was cool and professional and able to figure out what trail I was on. He asked if I was bleeding; I said I didn't so. He asked if I could get up and walk along the trail. I said I probably could, but I'd just as soon sit where I was.
I hung up and started to call family members to alert them to my plight. I told my mother that Louise would call soon. (I was supposed to help Louise move some furniture that evening -- clearly, I would do anything to get out of that.)
Just as I finished calling my mother, my first guardian of the evening arrived. A gentleman named Ollie rode down the trail and stopped to assist me. He picked up my bike from across the path and offered to wait the ambulance came.
When the ambulance arrived, Ollie, who as it turned out lives just a couple of blocks from me, offered to take my back home.
The bike was fine. Of course.
The paramedics checked me out. They cut away my bike jacket and jersey from my arm. I'm no doctor, but I could see that my shoulder looked wrong. Instead of curving down, it suddenly dropped off, and there was a large bump where there shouldn't be a bump. This was the ball joint at the end of arm sitting in a place where it shouldn't be. They checked my arm for numbness and I had a big numb spot on the outside of left arm. This indicated possible nerve damage.
They immobolized my arm by wrapping what looked like a life preserver around me, they got me to feet and we walked down the path. I climbed into the ambulance and sat down. They moved me over to the stretcher later as they tried to put in an IV line in my right hand. The paramedic kept failing to find a vein and apologised profously for continually poking my right hand in vein, er, vain. We went to Victoria General Hospital.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Big Ouch

Last Monday, I tumbled off my bike, seriously injuring my shoulder. We're taking pins, plates, possibly even a fork and spoon. I'll post more soon; suffice it for now to say that I am alive, and the long-term prognosis is good.

PS. The bike is fine. Of course.
  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This just in -- newsflash!

Our most dedicated blog poster, John, took a tumble from his bike yesterday and ended up in hospital.
On the positive side, he recognised that he had an arm injury and actually made his own 911 call. A neighbour stayed with him till the ambulance came and took his bike home. This is actually quite surprising, as many men of my acquaintance (notably Bernie) would be more likely to push the bike home and call for a cab. Maybe the steep hill on which John lives was a factor in the decision, but I prefer to think that the wise choice John made was a sign that he may not have suffered any head injury in the fall.
On the negative side, he's in surgery right now and will not be biking or kayaking for a while.
We'll post what news we get (or John will himself) but for now we'll be optimistic about his surgery and send him plenty of good wishes for a full recovery.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

One Day While Riding My Bike

One day last week, I took my camera to as I rode my bike to work. I picked a good day. First off, what a sunrise!

Then, on the way home, look up in the sky, it's a bird! It's a plane!It's a...blimp!?!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Let's Be Careful Out There

While riding my bike home yesterday across the Gorge Bridge, I saw a kayaker get in trouble. He was in a long Current Design boat, possibly a racing boat. He had just gone under the bridge and was followed by a eight-man sculling boat and the coach in a small motorboat.
I'm guessing that the kayaker did not see the motorboat go by, or he didn't realize that he needed to turn into the wake. Either way, the wake of the motorboat broadsided him and he went half-way over.
He shoved his paddle down into the bottom and stopped himself from going totally over. But he was stuck on his side, half in the water and half out.
There was little I could do up on the bridge except have my cell phone handy to call 911 if he needed help. And he did -- he was calling out.
Another kayaker and a pair in an outrigger were quickly there and helped right him. The coach in the motorboat puttered away in blissful ignorance.
So today's lesson, Grasshopper: even in calm, shallow, well-travelled and familiar water, accidents can happen. Let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Make Room, Make Room

According to this report, car drivers tend to drive closer to helmeted cyclists than unhelmeted cyclists.
They also apparently give female cyclists more room than male cyclists.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I saw my breath when I started my bike ride to work today.
Where's that box of winter riding gear?

Monday, July 31, 2006

30 Minutes to 25

I'm back on the bike I purchased last year, although late and cursing the fact that I haven't gotten out sooner. I have been riding in the gym as well getting my legs prepared for 3 months. Afterall I do have a bad left knee and both knees tend to creak. Tonight I rode my neighbourhood circuit in 25 minutes--shaved off 5 minutes. Not bad for the second time out riding it.

On a different note....a friend sent me an article on Lance Armstrong. I'm always impressed with people who are into professional sports, sure they make lots of money but I figure some of them really do work hard and it is gruelling to stay in shape. Lance is one of those people. Not all professional sports players maintain a healthy life, some do drugs, some drink and drive. What is interesting is Lance is different....physically different. I would put a link or two here, but it is more fun for you to go search. Search Lance Armstrong's heart and see what you come up with. I found it interesting to discover Lance and other atheletes are actually different from the average person. It isn't all training.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

User Fees

I've been reading many letters in the local paper over the past few weeks calling for licensing and registration of bicycles and riders, the idea being that this will increase safety by decreasing traffic law violations by riders, and will help pay for bike-lanes and other bike-oriented improvements.
As a bike commuter, I say these are excellent ideas. There are some bad riders out there that make the rest of us look bad. We've all seen the example of how licensing and registering cars and drivers have reduced speeding, red-light running, non-use of turn signals and other vehicle violations to absolute zero. Our roads our much safer now, thanks to those fees.
While we’re at it, it’s time we stopped subsidizing roads and highways with our tax dollars and increase fees vehicle drivers pay. Gas taxes, licensing and registration don’t begin cover the cost of maintaining old roads, never mind building new ones. And that's also ignoring the costs of externalities such as policing, associated health care costs and environmental damage and repair.
Continuing the user-pay scenario, let’s start licensing pedestrians, too. Clearly there’s room for safety improvements in this sector of the travelling public, as many of them don’t seem to understand the simple phrase “Don’t Walk.” And somebody’s got to pay for all those sidewalks.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Different Worlds

With two trips in the last two months—one to Edmonton and now to Mississauga—I've been missing certain things from my now usual life in Victoria; mostly my kayak and my bike.
When I lived outside Edmonton, I seldom biked; there was never anywhere to bike to. Occasionally I would take my bike into Edmonton and use it for a day, or I would head out onto the secondary highway a mile away from the farm, but not often. When I left and spent time at Monica's remarkable mountainside farm near Nelson, I would take my bike into town and cycle about, sometimes heading up towards Kaslo, but most often just using it as in-town transportation. But this all changed when I settled down in Victoria.
By the time I got to Victoria, Paula had already acquired her trike and was making her own tracks around town. It wasn't hard to tell why: Victoria, for all its hills, is a terrific town to bike in.
Once I went back to Edmonton, I was newly sensitised to bike issues. Edmonton has no bike lanes that I noticed. Not that there aren't a lot of bike riders; Daryl Richel, the programme manager at CJSR Radio, for example, is a 24/7/365 rider. Yes, even at -40°C he commutes by bike. Not coincidentally, CJSR also runs the Bike Report, Canada's only bicycle traffic report. Currently the reports are given by Claire, who reports on local bike traffic conditions and bike related news from across Canada and around the world.
And while in Edmonton, I spoke to a rider having a smoke in front of Mountain Equipment Co-op. This kind of sums up biking in Edmonton; biking is a radical and individualistic act. So a bike rider who smokes, well, I wasn't surprised.
The rider I spoke to at MEC was a tough, aggressive rider—and acknowledged it. But he also acknowledged commute biking in Edmonton is something is an extreme sport and that in the end, even he occasionally bikes on the sidewalk for safety.
It was the same story in Mississauga; extreme sport, dangerous traffic, lack of bike lanes, and frequent riding on the sidewalk. Next to my sister's place in Mississauga is a park and part of the Mississauga trail system. Just like in Edmonton, where the trails are chiefly confined to the river valley, the trails in Mississauga are confined to parks and natural areas. But I borrowed my brother-in-law's bike and headed out to check out the trail.
The trail is lovely—winding, no big hills, paved and travelling through areas that Mississauga Parks are encouraging to return to a more native condition. This means more birds, small hardwoods, and native plants (and weeds) allowed growing unimpeded.
This natural area is not that unusual here; I've noticed several of these small oases in Mississauga. Much of the areas under the power lines in transmission corridors are given over to over to park. But the parks—and, importantly, the trails—are not contiguous. In ecological terms, they house “stranded populations”. The populations may seem healthy, but all are stressed by the very nature of their isolation.
And this holds true for the bike population as much as for the frogs and birds. The path/trail I found is about two kilometres long and connects nothing to nothing. Six lanes of commuter traffic chop it off at one end, and it heads off the other direction past Iceland (a year-round ice sports facility where my six year old niece plays hockey), past a natural recovery area with a stream, around playing fields to where it dead-ends at an off-leash park for local dogs. This would be where I wiped out and the resultant soft-tissue damage put paid to much more biking for the rest of my stay. The trail is good/valuable/worthy, but it is a trail from nowhere to nowhere.
According to the map I have, there are other trails/paths in Mississauga—some even look quite extensive—but they are miles apart, and are all supporting stranded populations.
Nationally, at least, we're trying to address this problem of stranded populations with the creation of the Trans-Canada Trail. Slowly, the country is being connected with this multi-use corridor.
Clearly I've been spoiled for the last year. Victoria has been quite aggressive in its development of bike lanes and multi-use trails, knitting them into the mass transit system and extending them throughout the city. All the users—particularly cyclists—that I speak to love the trails and lanes. And most all of them want to see the system extended, and most of them want to see it done by last year. Personally, I'd like to see a set target of, say, fifty kilometres of new bike lanes a year. Or before any road can be resurfaced, a bike lane must be added.
But honestly, we live in one of the most progressive cities in Canada in terms of traffic policy. An aggressive, vocal bike lobby, traffic engineers who give weight to non-car traffic (whether forced to or wanting to doesn't matter: it still happens), a pretty good mass transit system (almost every bus with a bike rack on the front and I just love the double-decker busses!), walkable neighbourhoods and extensive paths and trails, make for a very liveable city. Most weeks we need a vehicle one day a week and then only because we need to haul kayaks. Otherwise we've spent much of the last year not car-free, but certainly car-reduced. I know I've gone from what was a five thousand kilometre commute each month to a life where I doubt that I've driven five thousand kilometres in the last year. Good for us, good for the environment, and good for the planet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Four Wheel Ride

Oh boy.
I've been wondering for a while why I can't find a bike built like a dune buggy. Four wheels. Seat low, near the ground. Enough room to carry a picnic cooler (or maybe a 64 litre Roughneck Tote, my favourite gear box).

There are a couple of models of pedaled wheels pretty similar to those specs.
Pedal car -- that's pretty appealing. But no cargo.
But the Rhoades car -- oooh, that's pretty. And appealing.
Go to and have a look at their designs.
4wheels, 1 person -- pretty damned nice. 1 gear, six gears, or thirty-six.
4 wheels, 2 persons -- also good. The long bed has a big cargo bed instead of a back seat for two more riders.
GoBoy -- also nice. GoBoy for 2 with a flat bed and a ladder rack... ooh, baby.
If any of these could carry a kayak, I'd be sold immediately.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bonk Bonk on the Head!

So I'm walking through the Library courtyard yesterday, past all the parked bikes. One fellow is clearly not having a good day.
He is swearing and cursing and yelling. His bike lock has jammed up on him and his bike is now possible permanently attached to the bike rack.
He's beating up his lock. He's pulling on it, pushing on it, hitting it, kicking it. Finally, as frustration talks his toll, he grabs his ball cap from his head and slams it to the ground.
Oh, wait.
It wasn't a cheap and flimsy ball cap he snatched from his head and threw to the ground, it was his bike helmet. An expensive bike helmet.
He stopped cursing.
A quiet moment of recognition and reflection.
And then, the swearing and yelling began anew.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sustained sensation of wellness

Gotta say, this riding a bike -- well, tricycle -- has been working out for me. As in me working out. As in breaking sweat at least twice a week with hard riding. well, hard for me. But even on slow, drowsy rides I have noticed that I have a sustained sensation of wellness. It's a pleasure to ride. It's been a year and a half since I bought this bike and hills are eaasier, flat stretches go faster, and I go farther and feel better during and after. What more could I want?
Well, a recumbent trike with a big basket and a custom Tony's trailer.
But that's for the future.
Ride the bike that's here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


So 6/6/6 wasn't such a scary number after all, was it? I know that here in Victoria it was one of the nicest days we've had this year. And I took full advantage of the combination of a beautiful day and a day off from invigilating exams at the University to take my bike and power off to the end of the Galloping Goose Trail.
The Trail, named after an old locomotive and running on the old roadbed, runs from kilometre zero at the Johnson Street Bridge out past the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park to end at the abandoned mining village of Leechtown fifty-five kilometres away. I've never biked the length of it, and have always thought that the trip from Victoria to Sooke would be interesting. And it is.
The first section of the ride is alongside the main artery of Victoria, Douglas Street. After Switch Bridge, the trail parallels Douglas as Douglas turns into the Trans-Canada Highway heading up to Naniamo. As Douglas changes, the Goose veers south into Colwood. The Trail starts to become more than a commuter route at this point, as the trees lining the sides of the Trail start to close in and occasionally arch over it, leaving you biking through a green tunnel. It's here that you cross Six Mile Bridge, one of those typical places in Victoria—where a place of stunning natural beauty exists fifteen metres from fifteen thousand people. Or as I put it 24 years ago; “another f*cking picturesque view, eh”?
While the route that the Trail follows through Colwood is very pretty—lots of flowering trees and wild rose bushes—there seems to have been a distinct lack of commitment to the Trail by the local government during its construction phase. There are several awkward or impossible crossings (such as the one over the Island Highway at Ocean Boulevard) that could have been made so much better if trail users had been given a bit more thought (or respect). One also has to be careful crossing the Veteran's Memorial Parkway, as the Trail technically ends and then restarts across the way. But if you watch the signage here, you end up back on the Trail rather than on the pedestrian-only trails paralleling the Parkway.
Between Kilometre 17 and 18, if you keep watch, is a small post that says “Jenkins Trail”. This is an excellent turnaround point for a morning ride. If you turn north here, you end up in Glen Cove Park, with its AFPV (another f*cking etc) from a small bench in the boardwalk that cuts across the east end of Glen Lake. This is an excellent bird-watching spot—I spotted a redwing blackbird jumping from lily pad to lily pad and occasionally flipping up the edges of the lily pads, foraging for bugs. This isn't behaviour that I've seen in redwing blackbirds before, so I found it quite interesting. But I usually use this location for fish watching. The water here is usually quite clear, and the bottom is covered with a forest of plants, so if you watch closely you will usually see a number of fish of different sizes and types moving in and out of the shelter of the plants. But today it was only fry less that ten millimetres long zipping about in the water.
Leaving Glen Lake, you run into another terrible crossing, where the Trail, Glen Lake Road and the Island Highway come together. And particularly try to avoid this crossing during the Luxton Fair weekend—nothing but cars and people in every direction. Thankfully, the fair was a couple of weeks back, so the traffic was lessened.
After the Luxton fairgrounds, the Trail runs roughly alongside Happy Valley Road and becomes more distinctly rural in nature. Here farms back onto the Trail, and creeks run along side it, and the biking is a treat. It rained a few days back, so the Trail was still damp, and biking along it was a lot cooler than it was in the sun.
The next problematic crossing comes when the Trail crosses the intersection of Rocky Point Road and Kangaroo Road. It was a short while after this crossing that the unexpected happened between kilometre 27 and 28. I was cruising nicely, the gravel surface of the Trail here is a fine crushed gravel (say 8mm and under), and is well packed. Making good time, I came around a slight bend in the green tunnel and slammed on the brakes. I skidded to a stop while less than seven metres ahead of me a small black bear crossed the Trail. He (all bears are he, except for Polar bears which are she) was obviously still young and not anywhere near full sized. His coat was rough, not the late summer sleekness of a well-fed mature bear, and all I wanted to do was dig my fingers in and give him a good scratch. He jogged across the Trail and paused briefly on the down-slope on the other side, turning to look at me while I stayed quite still looking at him. Then he continued down the slope and stopped in the underbrush by the creek flowing at the bottom of the ravine.
I guess I never really believed that there were bears on the Island. I've seen the local deer—often on the Goose or Lochside Trails—and while the mule deer we'd see on the farm were seven hundred pounds and up, the local deer are luck to weigh a tenth that. So I didn't really think that bears would be able to live on the Island. But this area, particularly as you get closer to Matheson Lake, is still quite wild. Cougars are regularly spotted inside the city limits, and years ago one actually was spotted within two blocks of our house on John Street, but I have difficulty believing in them too. I think its because growing up in Edmonton, the urban and the wild were distinctly different things; with the wild being relegated to the National Parks like Jasper and Banff.
At approximately kilometre 30 is the cut-off to Matheson Lake Regional Park. Previously, this was the furthest I'd biked on the Galloping Goose. That was last summer when John and I biked out and Paula and Louise brought the kayak out. At this point you are just past halfway to the end of the Trail, and Matheson is a good place to stop as the lake is suitable for swimming, fishing, and boating.
The entrance to Roche Cove Regional Park is at kilometre 35, and this is where I stopped for lunch. The Trail has to be around a hundred metres up from the Cove, and provides some spectacular views. Roche Cove is connected to Matheson Lake, and Matheson is home to beautiful sea-run trout with orange salmon-like flesh (yes, back in the day I would occasionally drop a line into the water).
From Roche Cove, the Trail follows the Sooke Basin shoreline all the way over to Cooper Cove, passing at least one B&B enroute. It was only a couple of weeks back that we were out kayaking in Cooper Cove and Sooke Basin, so it was very interesting to see it from the Trail point of view.
After Cooper Cove, the Trail follows Sooke Road for a while before bending off to the north and heading towards Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, staying high up the side of the hill while far below the Sooke River tumbles along.
There are two spectacular trestle bridges here; the Charters Creek and Tod Creek trestles, both of which are high over their respective creeks. There are alternate routes over each creek for horse traffic. And the trail finally end at kilometre 55 in Leechtown—the former site of a gold mining community.
By the end of the trip I have to say that I was plenty tired. It has been months since I've biked more than fifteen or twenty kilometres at one go, so I biked back down to Sooke Road about kilometre 41, and caught the municipal bus back to Victoria, loading my bike on the front. I've never done this before either, and found the procedure quite straightforward, and the bus drivers quite understanding and helpful. But then most of the bus drivers here are understanding, patient, and helpful.
So I made it back to the house, tired, but not destroyed. And the next morning I experienced only a small amount of stiffness—about what I usually feel in the morning, so I was quite pleased with myself. Really, a terrific bike trip.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bike to Work Week - Dénouement

Now that all the hoopla about Bike to Work Week is over, there's just one last thing to take care of: prizes!
The joke was all last week that we’d win a water bottle. Guess what? Yes, it’s true – we won a water bottle! And a hat, and two passes to various Greater Victoria Recreation Centres.
Ah, but now comes the tricky part. Who gets the prizes? As team captain, I decided that each day that a person rode their bike to work last week would count as an entry in our Prize Winner Determination Draw. I rode five days, so I get five entries. Same with Linda. Paddy rode three times, she gets three entries, and Jocelyn, who rode once, got one entry.
An impartial non-bike rider made the draw. And the winner is ….Jocelyn! Jocelyn who rode only once! Jocelyn who beat the 14-1 odds in our draw! Man, that sucks! I like that hat!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Bike to Work Week - Day 5

Amazingly, no evils befell me. No cars lept out of blind alleys, no strange and sudden meteorological anomalies rained down on me, no part of my bike suddenly disintegrated while I was racing down a steep hill.
How was the turn out? There's 24 people in our branch. 7 signed up to ride all week, only two of us, including myself, did. One person rode three days, one person rode one day, the other three didn't ride at all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bike to Work Week - Day 4

What a great week this is turning into. This morning I got "pot holed" by a car. First time ever. The car had me lined up, found a pot hole full of water and splatto - drenched from head to toe.
Thank you very much, Mr. Anonymous Asshole.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bike to Work Week - Day 3

After yesterday's sunshine, the clouds returned. Cold and misty. But not bad for biking.
Except that my chain fell off again.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bike To Work Week - Day 2

Tuesday was a much brighter day. Thanks to the nice weather, there were lots of newbie bicyclists on The Galloping Goose trail today. It was crowded!
This is why some experienced riders don't ride during Bike to Work Week -- it's too busy!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bike to Work Week - Day 1

Well, what can I tell you?
It rained in the morning, my chain came off twice and I dropped my digital camera. Not a great start to the week. Out of the seven people at work on my team who were going to ride, only two did. One injured his ankle over the weekend and won't be riding at all this week.

Still, it looked like a lot of people were out, judging by all the amateurs on the trails. And the activites looked well attended, too. Maybe I'll have a better attitude tomorrow!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

UVic's cycling/parking news

In August 2005 the parking rates at UVic went up 40% (UVic's president got a 45% raise) and a lot of employees were pissed off. At the time we hadn't had a pay increase in five years, and although we've won some gains, our parking rates will go up again this August. It is all in an effort to reduce the cars on campus, which in light of gas prices and cutting down on traffic is something that is commendable. However, at this point in time there isn't the set up to encourage staff to ride to work. A lot do cycle to work, and interestly enough most of them live close to UVic and sometimes even walk to work. In some cases my fellow coworkers live too far to cycle or have children to drop off and pick up after school. Cycling just wouldn't work in this case, nor does taking the bus.

I too drive to work, during the summer months. In the winter I take the bus using my student bus pass. I feel I'm doing my part. I would cycle to UVic, however there are a few issues that prevent me. 1) I use to work at Campus Security and one of my jobs was to do the stats--bike theft was pretty high at that time and I don't think the figures have gone down. 2) my supervisor had his bike stolen during Bike to Work Week 2004, it was locked up right outside our office doors. 3) there is a waiting list for the bike lockers, although more are on the way.

I think the bike lockers are a neat idea! I'm hoping that I can get one next summer and ride to work. I know I should do it this summer, but I already purchased my parking pass for the summer months, and it wasn't cheap! It is non-refundable, non-transferrable.

There are covered lock up areas on campus too.
Check it out the lockers, bike shelters at:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gear up!

Hey, I got my new gear!
My five-speed tricycle is still a five speed. But instead of gears 1 through 5, with a 36-tooth front gear wheel, it's now got a 40-tooth front gear wheel so the gears are more like gears 2 through 6. I go a little faster now, and never use first gear anyways but walk up hills that steep.
Now I'm looking for a recumbent trike or semi-recumbent. Time to test ride an EZ 3 at the Fairfield bike shop again, and try others.
But in the meantime, zoom.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bike to Work Week

Hey kids, it's that time of the year again!
Bike To Work Week is May 29 - June 2. Sign up for fun, frolic and prizes. I'm a team leader at my workplace, and I'll bring you all the lowdown during the week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fitting into my life

I've decided bikes fit into my life.
Now if my bike just fit onto my bus... well, guess we can't have everything. But I sure have a lot of things!
I've been wearing my bright reflective vest when biking some days, when I know I'll be on the road a lot instead of the goose. All it seems to do is make drivers laugh, but hey, if they don't hit me that's good enough.
One driver pulled over and shook his fist at me for biking on the crosswalk when the signal was blinking "don't start" -- and after he'd repeated himself so I could hear him with my half-deaf ears, I gave the correct reply -- the raised finger. Hadn't thought I was a militant biker until then. And I sure don't look like anyone's poster girl for biking. But hey, I'm on my bike tomorrow to go down to the kayak shops and buy a proper paddling vest. Nice to fit that bike into my plans, and nice to fit my plans on my bike, too.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Invisible or blind?

I've been reading magazines on biking and on paddling lately, and trying to write articles for 'em. Sold one to WaveLength Magazine, and hope it'll be the first of a new series of articles. How can ya tell I'm a freelance writer, eh? Well, they say write what you know.
The bicycling magazine I was reading lately had an article on invisible bikers. But by the time you get most of the way through the article, the author has realized that there really is a community of people who use bikes to commute, to work, to improve their lives and to make a difference. And it's not that these are invisible bikers. He finally realized that these people are perfectly visible, out there, working in the same real world in the same city he lives in. The reason he and his friend bikers don't see them: the rich bikers are blind. The people really using their bikes are low-income, and the author realized he just hadn't been seeing the people who were using cheap bikes all around him. And he felt like a complete shit.
Is there an answer for this reversible blindness?
Well, it wouldn't hurt to promote a local bike shop/repair centre. Bicycleitis on Bay Street (1 block west of Shelbourne Street) is a great little shop. They not only sell affordable second-hand bikes as well as new, they have a "free tree" on the boulevard. Haul those old clunkers out from under the deck and give 'em to these guys or some other repair shop like Recyclistas. Wheels on the road, eh? there is no excuse for anything else.

Out of shape

Yeah, the winter has made me feel out of shape. I haven't been biking as much as I've wanted to, nor as much as I should have. But the speed at which my fitness has declined has been ridiculous.
Even out biking with Paula--no speed demon, but very consistent-- became a chore. Riding the Goose was work--and that's dead flat and paved. Where other people have been zooming along, I've just z'd. So depressing.
Right up until a visit to Recyclistas by Switch Bridge on the Goose. Something had gone askew on the treadle (well, nuts had loosened/tightened on my rear axle), and the guys taught me how to pull the axle apart, replace the bearings, and fit the whole works back together. Now my bike, she go zoom again! Well, with a little help from me.
But let me recommend Recyclistas to everyone. These guys know their stuff, are both friendly and helpful, and do excellent work. But more importantly, they are pretty darned good at teaching you how to do the work yourself. And they are more than fair with their sliding scale of rates.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Just had to share the news: I need more gears on my trike!
Well, I have five. Not surprising that after a year of biking and walking and kayaking that my fitness has increased and I want to GO FASTER on my three-wheeler.
Yes, I'll keep it slow enough to be safe. But I am soooo going to get the front gear changed. More more more faster harder higher stronger
I'll have to put a picture of the Norco Parkland up here to show what it's like. Staid. Bland. Gets cheers wherever I go.
And now the electric bike store on Yates street has ones just like it with motors! oh baby.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bait Bikes

Our neck of the woods is prone to bike thefts. Local police have started a "bait bike" program similar to "bait car" programs to deter bike thieves. GPS transmitters and other devices have been installed in bikes around the city waiting for the bad guys to steal them.
(There's some tips to avoid having your bike stolen at the end of the article.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I don't feel much like a real biker, not compared to the bikemutants roaring past my three-wheeler. But hey, my trike gets me on the road and trail. And that's real enough.

Ride Like The Wind

It's been very windy out here on the We(s)t Coast for the last couple of weeks, and I've noticed something very strange about it.
Maybe it's just me, but when I ride in the wind, the wind is always blowing in my face, slowing me down and making it a much more difficult ride.
When I ride to work, it's in my face.
When I ride home, it's in my face.
Riding home, I go west, then north for a while, then turn west again, and finish up with a couple of blocks of south. Every time I change direction, the wind is in my face.
The only time the wind is not in my face is when I'm stopped at a red light. The weather gods taunt me with a moment of placid calm, before the winds whip up in a frenzy. It's like trying to ride through a solid brick wall when the light turns green.
There's some strange meteorological effect going on here, like I'm being followed by my own personal microburst.
I should be flattered that the gods take such a personal interest in me. If only they would pay the same sort of attention to my lottery ticket numbers.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hail Hail!

Okay, here's a ride home for the books...
The morning ride to work was cool and windy. However, the weatherman promised that the afternoon should be clear and sunny.
Which it was, until naturally it was time to go home. As soon as I hide a road home, a squall came in, cold and windy. And the heavens opened up and began dumping.... hail!
I've been rained on, snowed on, but I never been hailed on!
And it hurt!
Oh well, no one said bike riding was boring!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I have this great Bizarro cartoon and I'd scan it into this blog if I could. Since I can't I'll have to explain it...imagine a psychologist with a patient lying on a couch....the good doctor is saying....

Let me put this in layman's terms--the mind is like a bicycle. You've gotten your pants leg caught in the sprocket and your chain has come off.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

When you've had enough

So this motorist in toronto tosses some crap out his window. A bike courier tosses it back in. Escalation happens...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Johnson Street Bridge

Riding over the Johnson Street Bridge is an, er, interesting proposition at the best of times. Going west, it's two narrow lanes on a metal grating. Lots of fun to ride on in the winter wind and rain. The posted speed limit is 30kmh and lane changes are not allowed. Yet I'm always amazed that I can get up to the speed limit on my bike, yet every single car passes me and many of them change lanes to do it. (And most of them probably spend their driving time cursing those #$%&ing bike riders. But I digress.)
Suffice it to say, crossing the bridge is not for the faint of heart, especially when I cross during the afternoon rush hour. Traffic is tight, tempers are tighter and riders are taking their lives in their hands.
Hell of a time for my chain come off.
Which is what it did yesterday, flying off the front crank and wrapping itself around my peddles just I hit the metal bridge decking. I had just hit top speed when my chain decided to depart. (The vehicle behind me was a Victoria Police van that illegally changed lanes, then sped up over the limit to pass me. The officer driving was probably mumbling something about those #$%&ing bike riders. But I digress.)
The good news is that with nary a wobble I was able to maintain my balance and coast across the bridge to the first turn-off and with a few minutes of cursing and grease stains was on my way.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006


I've been having trouble with my gears. I ride a ten year-old 21-speed mountain bike, and despite the fact that I have a brand-new drive train on it, my gears are acting up.
When I'm in my high gear at the front, I sometimes have a devil of a time finding the low gears in the back. And it's got me thinking: do I really need 21 gears?
Honestly, I never use most of them. I rarely leave my top gear of the three in the front, and only use a few of the seven in the rear. Sure, if I was cross-country riding across lots of mountains, some low gears would come in handy, but as a commuter and trail rider, most of them are wasted.
I figure that I only need about five gears:
- go like hell;
- medium cruising;
- cruising in traffic;
- little hill;
- big hill.
Give me those five gears, and I'll be happy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pedestrian Rage

I ride my bike to work.
In Victoria, the weather is such that it is possible to ride your bike year-round here in the City of Gardens. Only on those very rare days when I see white on the ground in the morning do I trade my bike for the bus. (And before you scoff at the notion that Victoria could receive any snow worth mentioning, recall the Blizzard of '96, a ten-day long series of snowstorms which culminated in a blizzard during which downtown Victoria received 85cm of snow in a 24-hour period, the 3rd largest snowfall in a city in Canadian history. But I digress.)
So everday, I put on my shorts and t-shirt (or during these cool days my gloves, jacket, sweater and spandex long pants) and my helmet, of ocurse, and embark on the half-hour ride to work.
But three times in the last week, I've been the victim of "pedestrian rage," pedestrians who started yelling and swearing at me for no reason than the fact that I ride a bicycle.
As example, yesterday morning I was riding along my usual route to work through a local Mall. I was in the traffic lane. A pedistrian was walking along the sidewalk beside me. We reached the corner at the same time. We were both going straight in the same direction. He started across in the crosswalk, I started across in the traffic lane. At no time were we within three metres of each other.Suddenly, he starts swearing at me. "EXPLETIVE DELETED bicycles! Watch where you're going! Stay out of the crosswalk! EXPLETIVE DELETED jerk!"
What the EXPLETIVE DELETED? I wasn't in the crosswalk, I wasn't aiming for the crosswalk, I travelling parallel to the crosswalk!Maybe this fellow put too much beer in his Corn Flakes.
And a few nights earlier on the way home, a guy pushing his shopping cart along the trail starting swearing at me as I slowly passed him. "EXPLETIVE DELETED biker! It's not safe for pedestrians any more!"
I should have replied, "Yes, especially when the pedestrian is pushing a shopping cart along a dark trail at night in a poorly lit area while wearing black clothes! Damn right, it's not safe!"
Come to think of it, this guy might had too much beer in his Corn Flakes, too.
But clearly something is going here. Pedestrians are rising up, fighting back against slights both real and imagined.
Someone should do a study on this. I'm sure the government will pay for it.