73 Cycle Days
“Hot day for boiking” the eldery gentleman waved to us as we passed by, just kilometers beyond the New Brunswick sign. Jay yelled back, “Never too hot a day for boiking. Or biking!”.
We detoured from Campbellton onto the Acadian Peninsula and the beautiful Chaleur Bay. The road was a little busier than we expected, but the shoulder was accommodating. Ended our day at the historic Hotel Paulin in Caraquet. Gerard and Karen are the third generation of the Paulin family to run the hotel. And what a marvellous hotel it is. Well worth the detour on its own. Gerard offered up a 2006 Beaujolais while sharing some history of the area, including the Acadian need to “fight for language and culture”, against movies, video games and TV. He also mentioned that the winter season was their busiest tourist season with snowmobilers coming from all over to explore their trails. This has also created a great quad business in the summer.
On GAIA there is a pathway all along the south east shore of the peninsula and we were keen to try it out the next morning. But just outside of Caraquet it quickly deteriorated into a quad only trail, with rocks and bumps and sand. So we resigned ourselves to go back out to the road towards Miramichi.
And then all this biking, fun, scenery and indeed our JoyRide came to a unceremonious, crashing end….
We were close to the end of a rather normal riding day, about 100 kms into the ride with less than 20 kms to go. We had just entered some harsh road conditions in a construction zone. I remember taking an angle to get up onto the shoulder, but apparently not enough of an angle and the tire skidded out and I went down. Nothing crazy, but hard, and I did feel groin pain immediately. As I write this we are back in Fernie, I have stopped the morphine and managing quite well. Now I would leave it here, but Gear Guy, now Medic Man, after considerable introspection he says, has more to say:
This was not typical road construction. There were large psychedelic cuts out of the pavement, leaving a sporadic steep and uneven 2 to 3 inch cut onto the remaining paved shoulder. There were also moats cut into the pavement every once in awhile, presumably to allow drainage from the construction area. But the moats were deep. You could hide a small child in them. This construction zone was nasty. The light was a little flat at times on account of partly cloudy skies. This combination of circumstances, in hindsight, all added up to a perilous cycling condition that neither of us tuned into in time. In an honest reflection, this could have happened to either one of us. I didn’t see Deb go down but I certainly heard her hit the deck. Hard. Behind us about 50 feet was Jason, who was out on a training ride. Jason it turns out, is an Iron Man and Triathlete.
I’m going to digress for a moment. So, we have now cycled almost 7,000 kms and not once have we come across another cyclist that was cycling with us or near us in the way that Jason was that day. He was right behind us at that exact moment.
And Jason bore witness to the fall. Besides being an Iron Man and Triathlete, Jason is also a health professional and a founder of a large Health Clinic in Miramichi staffed with Doctors, PTs, OTs, and MTs. His analysis at the time was that Deb took the brunt of the fall on her shoulder. That would explain the mostly destroyed long sleeve ice breaker shirt not to mention the rather impressive shoulder road rash. But he also mentioned that the right leg looked like it came out a bit, possible putting strain on limbs and joints. Deb’s sense at the time was that she didn’t feel bad, either in her head or her shoulder but her groin hurt “a bit”. Possibly a strained or torn groin muscle, Deb offered. In hindsight it is clear that Deb was in shock. A number of motorists stopped to offer assistance as the scene clearly looked like a casualty site.
Jason directed traffic around us while we sat for a bit and decided on next steps. In the meantime, Jason took things into his own hands advising, “I am going to ride into town and get my truck and come back for you.” Strangely, the bike suffered only minor damage – another bent derailer hanger (our 4th). Deb decided to try to ride on. One of us wanted to ride on, one of us didn’t think that was such a good idea. So we rode on. Road conditions changed. They got worse. We continued for about 5 kms over a body jarring trenches and through scattered rocks and construction shrapnel. Deb was riding with what we now know was a broken pelvis. Think about that.
In the meantime, our amazing Jason returned as promised with his truck just as we finished the jarring construction area. Deb, still in shock, was insisting to ride on. But Jason with the wisdom of a seasoned athlete and health professional and the diplomacy of Ghandi, convinced Deb to get in the truck, and he transported us both safely to a hotel. At this point Deb was convinced that the injury was a groin tear only. However, after the excruciating “long” distance walk down the hall to the restaurant, it became clear, even to her, it was more than that.
True to form, Jason contacted us early the next morning with an appointment for Deb at his clinic, Peak Performance, for an exam. We promptly attended after renting a vehicle and getting ready for, well, anything. Deb could not weight bear at all at this point. At Peak Performance Doctor David conducted a thorough exam and ushered us off to the hospital for X-rays. As we attempted to pay for their services, not only would they not accept any payment, they promptly stuffed cheques and cash into our pockets in support of our JoyRide. Words cannot express how amazing Jason and the folks at the Peak Performance Health Center were. We are eternally grateful.
At the hospital, we were accompanied by a letter from Doctor David that seemingly got us quicker than usual access to X-rays in Emerg. That and Deb’s pain level now was a “9” and the triage nurse was looking concerned. I guess a broken pelvis can be a very bad thing. So, the initial x-rays were confirmed by the Emerg Doc that Deb’s pelvis was broken. CT scans thereafter and a visit with an Orthopedic Doc concurred – broken pelvis. That was the bad news. The good news was no surgery. The Doctors were great, all totally understanding about Deb’s commitment to our ride, and were gentle in advising, “It is not days, it is not weeks, it is likely months before you should take on a ride like this again”. We took the drug prescriptions, shed a few tears, and went to buy crutches.
But I can’t stop without some commentary on the Emerg that day. People were coming and going. Some sicker than others. But there was this one man in his 30’s who, the way he was holding his arm and clenching his shoulder in raging pain, must have had a dislocated shoulder. There were several patients in the waiting room. Deb was in a wheel chair and I was standing. An elderly lady got out of her chair and offered the man a seat, which he took! And I mean this poor old lady looked like she could kick the bucket like any second. And then he skipped the line to get attended to first, which was on a first come first serve basis but also according to the emergency. And as this guy is entering the exam room he turns to the nurse who asked if he hurt his shoulder, the guy says, “No, sunburn”. Huh? Sunburn?? Are you kidding me? You go to Emerg with sunburn and take a dying old lady’s seat?? Thankfully, the don’t mess with me triage nurse punted his sorry ass out of the exam room and Emerg faster than a Darwinian finch. There was applause in everyone’s head. Hug a nurse today.
The Doctor’s advice was to get crutches and keep moving – slowly and with caution, but keep moving. No bike riding. Stay medicated.
So we continued with our scheduled JoyRide bike event stops in Fredricton and Halifax. But by rental car, not bike.
In Fredricton, we met James. James is an amazing guy. Articulate and engaging, we originally thought we could meet for an hour or so because we wanted to be in Halifax that evening to prepare for our next bike event and for the trip back home. But instead, we chatted with James for over 3 hours over a few cold draft at a local craft brewery. James’ bike is not manufactured yet, being quite complicated to engineer, but James has big plans for his bike, and his future. We look forward to keeping in touch with him and learning about all his future successes. James made our day.
Next stop – Halifax where we had a delightful and enormous sushi dinner with Fernie friend Julia. The next day, we started our day with a fun radio interview at Halifax’s Q104 who established The Children’s Trust Fund, the charity we are working with for our next recipient’s bike.
Then we met our 8th bike recipient, another James. This James is 5, and has cerebral palsy and autism, and he is the cutest little guy. His close relationship with his mom, Stephanie, was heartwarming. He has used a similar Freedom bike in his recreational therapy at school. Now he has his own bike to use at home and at school. Go get ‘em James!
Our flight back was mercifully uneventful and I was well medicated.
As we accept our forced postponement of JoyRide, we think about what an amazing journey this has been. Almost 7,000 kms of cycling joy across Canada, coast to coast on back roads and isolated trails and pathways. We think about the friends and family that have helped us along the way. We think about the characters we’ve met. We have had JoyRide bike events in Surrey, BC; Calgary, AB; Radville, SK; Winnipeg, MB; Thunder Bay and Ottawa, Ont.; Fredricton, NB; and Halifax, NS. We have another planned in St John’s NL and in Fernie, BC. And we have three or four more bikes in the planning stages thanks to generous donations. We will continue to accept donations towards special needs bikes.
This has been a humbling and magical experience. So yes, we believe in magic. Thank you for coming along for the ride.
To be continued……..