Sunday, 28 December 2014

The year of living dangerously.

What. A year. As always you'll have found me mugging it up for the camera throughout. It was a big one, 2014, and scary at times, too.

January started off with a bang when I went into sinus arrest and found myself in the Cardiac Unit at VGH after drinking some tea which disagreed with me.

In June, I crashed and burned on the Vets' Ride in Richmond, destroying both my scapula and my clavicle in one fell swoop.

The spectacle
It was way past time to bone up on my skillz, so I shouldered on and joined the guys at Escape Velocity, once I'd spent the summer healing up, that is.

My shoulder is much more stable now, but this body is nothing if not unpredictable, and for the last month I have been struggling with a very painful knee. The doctors even kept talking about trying to save the joint.  !!
They say cannabis makes for great pain relief, but this is NOT my idea of a swell joint!
It looks as if the doctors succeeded in their mission, fingers crossed, cause most of the tissue swelling is gone now, blessed be. But the bones themselves are still enlarged. Who knew bones could swell?! Er... never mind! That kind swelling is strictly on a a knee-d to know basis.

It's funny. Even though it hurts something fierce sometimes, and even though I was lucky just to have survived the 2014, I really do love my life.  Seriously. What a gift!! I've been blessed with two gorgeous, kind, sweet, bright sons; I have a remarkably tolerant family; beautiful, wonderful, paitent friends; and the coolest job. Ever. And even though this crazy old body is unbelievably mutarded, it has taught me how to live well, and the pain involved has even made me into a decent athlete. See?  I'm a very lucky woman.  Aaaaaaand, if you ask me what Santa brought for Christmas, I'll smile and tell you it is long and hard, with a knob on top, and  that you can sit on it. Mmmmmm.  That's happy making. :)

You might be a little bit surprised to learn that it's shorter and narrower than the one that it's replacing, and that I'm good with that.

I was surprised to discover that of all of the many the things that happened this year, and of all of the stuff I did, handling the shim was likely amongst the most dangerous of them all.  Really! What, you don't believe me? See for yourself:

You see?  It might look harmless enough, but it's practically a lethal weapon, the shim. 

Cycling can be dangerous, and failure to heed those strident warnings up there "may result in very serious injury or death!"  Even just handling said shim can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm!  Good thing I've already had my kids.  Poor boys share my defective genes - the last thing they need is some life threatening shim messing things up. And wouldn't you know it? Whilst installing the bloody thing, I didn't wear my hazmat suit. It was at the cleaners.

What a risk taker!
Cycling can be dangerous they say. That's why I like to wear safety shoes as often as possible. When I used to teach kids how to ride horses - now there's a safe sport - we always insisted that they wear a heel so that their foot wouldn't slip through the stirrup, so I like to wear a proper heel to ensure my foot doesn't slip off the pedal.

Safety shoes - they're good for the sole.
Cycling can be dangerous... In this, the year of living dangerously, I couldn't help but notice just how many people driving vehicles were running red lights. Almost every day, I see at least one person in a car run a red, but the real hazard is Vancouver's bus drivers.  In the last month alone, I saw nine separate bus drivers honk their horn, speed up, and run a red - not a stale yellow!!- light.  I kept track of the bus numbers, the times and the routes of the vehicles involved, and after the first two, I wrote to Translink to let them know about what I've seen, and their response was to ask me to keep the details of thier private investigation private.  They asked me not to talk about it. I asked them to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and then I saw seven more drivers do the exact same thing - within a few weeks!  So I'm talking about it. Loudly. In this city living dangerously can mean something as simple as walking across the street with the walk signal. So please, the next time you see some crazy-assed, determined cyclist out there on the roads, trying to get to work and back, please just suspend your judgement for a minute, think about the big picture, and slow down a little.  Cycling can indeed be dangerous, but it doesn't have to be.  Just stop for the lights, and stick to the speed limits, please and thank you.  Cause, y'know what the sticker says... failure to heed these warnings may result in serious injury or death.

Plenty of people think that cycling is a dangerous pastime, even without riding a roadbike, or joining a race team, and sadly, maybe as things stand it actually is. I like the idea of riding safely off into the sunset to live a healthy life - happily ever after...

but humanity is a long, long way from a healthy happy anything. The small boy wanted a snowboard for Christmas, so Santa -mummy indulged him. Only he can't use it yet, because there isn't any snow on the hills. Nothing. None.  De Nada.

Ironic, isn't it?  Sandbags for rising sea levels, and no snow on the mountains. 
But we continue blithely on, consuming without any thought for tomorrow, with cities full of motorists commuting daily, and driving everywhere, all the time. Worse, much of the time it's one person per massive SUV, whilst the tides rise higher and higher around us. Last month the king tide caused damage throughout the lower mainland, and now sandbags seem to be a permanent feature down at Jericho beach. 

Forget bike racing. That's living dangerously. Sit back a minute, and contemplate the big picture. We really are all in this together, and your choices absolutely do make a difference - every single day.

Have hope. The times, they are a changing. This week, a judge awarded a cyclist $100,000 after a confrontation with an angry truck driver who used his vehicle to threaten the men on bikes caused a cyclist to crash. That might not give YOU hope, but it cheers me up immensely. But there's all sorts of evidence that humanity is slowly but surely changing course, if you look closely. Take Medicine Hat, for example. This is a city in Alberta with a history in the natural gas industry dating back over a century, and yet they are facing the future, and embracing renewables. They have installed wind turbines, and even Canada's first solar thermal capture plant in an effort to achieve their 2025 target of supplying 25% of electricity from renewable resources. And even better yet, Toyota has promised to mass produce a hydrogen fuel cell car by 2015.

Who knows? Maybe there's hope for us yet. With any luck... well, and with the courage to make a few unpopular decisions, we can turn this mess around, so that we won't be living quite so dangerously in a few years time.


  1. Yeah, "hope"? When I was in the Army, one of the military doctrines impressed upon us was: " NOT a course of action." I like that. However, in the case of cycling v. car-centricity, all one can do is meager "cycling advocacy", and then, hope for the best.That, and as Gandhi so wisely proposed: "...BE the change..." What I DO hope for, though, are more photographs of your truly exceptional legs!! Ha! I'm old, but not dead!

    1. Lol! K. Will do... :D
      And yes. Gandhi had it right. That's why I ride every chance I get, and get behind the wheel of a car only when necessary. Mere advocacy seems so weak a response to such an urgent need for change, and yet, what else can we do? Funny, cause these gams are just a reflection of a life-long love of cycling, and while many people appreciate them, so few drivers are willing to step away from the vehicle to try riding instead.
      Sometimes it seems like hope is all that's left.

    2. Babble, Central California, where I ride, has a pathological infestation of automobiles! It is truly…an awesome epidemic of cars. That stated, while the personal transportation situation here is indeed deplorable, it is not entirely “hopeless”. Not entirely. There ARE, after all, some of us cyclists. (I’d like to think, that as an old-timer cyclist, I’m projecting a visible transportation alternative.) And YOU, oh my. With your splendid cycling style, and compassion for the well-being of Planet Earth…you cancel out about a million of the automobile lemmings! I guess we just keep on ridin’.

  2. Nice posts!

    Best wishes for the new year Babs. I hope this one is filled with more safe and fun miles than the last for you.

    1. Thank you kindly, Mr RCT. And Happy New Year to you!!

      I am hoping for a good many fast fast fast safe and fun miles, too, cause those are the kind that always bring a great big, ginormous smile to my face. We have a team TT on the first of January... wish me luck!

      Oh, and please do give my love, and a great big hug to the Road Queen, too, will you? You guys inspire me. :) xo xo

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Dale! Happy New Year to you, too! I noticed you had a pretty great year for training in 2014 - I want to follow in your footsteps, and so I wish you continued success in 2015! :) xo

  4. Finally caught up with my babble backlog. Nicely motivated to extract a finger and ride to work next week. I love your seat post explanation and will smile every time I insert one from now on.
    Our current mob are not so supportive of the need to instigate a change to a cleaner and more sustainable life. In fact they're doing the opposite. Lets keep doing things the same way we've done them for the last 200 years. We've got plenty of nice brown coal and one day someone else will work out how to deal with the CO2 and god knows what else.. Sulphur, Mercury. All the good stuff!
    I'm optimistic that it will stir up enough disgust to piss them off and give someone else a go when the time comes.
    And Old Timer.. yes, Hope, Wait and Convenient are three words never to use :)

    1. I just don't get it. Most adults have children... how can humanity not see that we are risking everyone's future with our wasteful, dirty choices?!

      Ride on, Harry! Every person who makes healthy decisions does contribute towards the greater good. :)

    2. I rode part way today. Train & ride.. cuts my 38km to 25km.
      Hmm, people. The climate change deniers give some an easy way out, what can I do?, it's the governments responsibility, oooh look some naked chick is licking a sledge hammer.
      I have two kids :) and about 20 bikes !

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