Seven weeks or so after I broke my leg I got one of the best pieces of news I’ve had in years- I was clear to start walking without the crutches. I had visions of jumping right back on my bike (it’s low impact, right?) but I was unprepared for the reality that the time after the cast would be the worst. It’s amazing how only a couple of weeks of no usage make muscles weaken to the point of being borderline useless. Not only that, but my foot had inflated to the point it barely fit in a shoe. But boy did I miss that right shoe! After trying and failing to power through, I subjected myself to some uncomfortable physio which improved things enormously. So as October came to a close I rolled the bike out of the shed, blew the dust off and gingerly clicked into a pedal.
(The jeans are a tip-off I’m not going far)
I can honestly say that trip twice around the block was one of the best rides I can remember. I missed my bike. I realized in my enforced time off how much cycling is part of my psyche. I’m a cyclist, it’s what I do.
There was a particular motivation for me to get back on the bike. I am now a proud card carrying member of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and looking to attend their imminent AGM. This was, I thought, not the sort of thing you ought to drive to. My foot was not 100%, but my motivation was through the roof. Fairfield to James Bay is not exactly a major excursion, but it was a major boost to my confidence coming off the injury. When I arrived and put my bike in the room dedicated for the purpose I stood unbelieving, fixed to the spot for a while, to the point someone actually asked me if I was going to come out of there to the meeting…
Upon arrival I was very pleased I had made it- a great group of people, both community-minded and up on the “nuts and bolts” of how to make cycling infrastructure better. Some other observations:
- Good to know you can pack a double bass on a bicycle given the right equipment.
- The GVCC puts together one of the best and most professional looking newsletters by a non-profit I’ve seen.
- You know you’re dealing with people serious about making cycling better when they casually mention they’ve been working on certain projects for 15+ years.
- West My Friend is a fantastic musical group everyone should check out.
Highlights of the GVCC’s work this past year include the innovative Bikes Mean Business report which I’m looking forward to having the time to digest properly. This to my mind is critical supporting information to move the needle on cycling infrastructure.
I’ve also been attending the GVCC sponsored Trans-Form Speaker Series and it’s been fantastic. I came away from the Gil Penalosa talk particularly invigorated by his energy, which borders on the brash. Beware “Civic Cadavers” at your peril!
My ride home, just a few days before Halloween, couldn’t have been nicer. Got to love crisp evenings and leaves under your tires.
My take-away from these cycling events has been slightly unexpected: Victoria has a well known and vibrant cycling community, but still needs significant improvements to infrastructure and visibility to really boost mode share. As Gil put it Victoria should be conscious of resting on its laurels. With the knowledge that I’m just dipping my toes in at this point, I’m looking forward to many more conversations on this topic in the months to come.