This year I am celebrating 20 years of cycling to work. I do not have an odometer but a bit of rough math—20-22 km per day (depending on the route), approximately 200 days a year for 20 years, minus years like this last one—would reveal that I have cycled at least 75,000 km! I could have traveled from coast to coast a few times so I guess I can stroke that off my bucket list. To celebrate this milestone I will write about a few cycling adventures this month.

Unfortunately, this past year was my worst year for cycling. It began when I pulled my hamstring in a very bad way during the first week of classes. The funny thing is that I did not pull the muscle while biking. I had successfully biked to work and then, while setting up tables and chairs in my classroom, I extended myself while lifting in just the wrong way and I felt a huge pop in my hamstring that almost caused me to faint. It was so bad I had bruising all the way down the back of my leg. Needless to say, I took the bus for the next five weeks before I felt secure enough to resume cycling. Now eight months later I can still feel that the hamstring is not yet back to normal!

Winter is rainy season in the lower mainland of BC so I was enjoying a beautiful winter morning with no rain and about +3 degrees during my first week back in January. I was energized as I made my way to work along Discovery Trail, a smooth paved trail that meanders across Abbotsford from east to west. It has made my commute a bit longer every day but the serenity of the trail with grasses, trees, cattails, birds, dog walkers, and even a beaver, muskrat, coyote, or deer on occasion as my companions—instead of speeding cars and lumbering trucks—are worth the extra five or ten minutes. There was no sign of frost anywhere that morning so I was moving along at a good pace on the paved trail with a transition to boardwalk up ahead. Unfortunately, I was not considering that at about +3 in a humid climate a seasoned boardwalk turns into a greasy slick! I went down hard as I hit the transition from pavement to boardwalk. Of course, it happened so fast I had no time to react and I must have landed on my head (I was wearing a helmet) because my only memory is the sound of dropping a large rock on concrete.

As I came to, I literally saw stars swirling around like they show in the cartoons. I eventually pushed the bike off of me and sat up. It seemed the bike was okay so my first impulse was to get back on to continue the journey. I decided to walk for a while to clear my head but the unsteadiness on my feet made me think that perhaps this was a good time to use that cell phone I had for no good reason. I had to pull out my glasses along with the phone so I could see the numbers and somehow in the midst of the malaise I lost my glasses into a reedy swamp off the boardwalk. I did manage to get them back and called the office, asking that someone come pick me up. I had about 1 km till the nearest pick-up point and a passerby asked if I was okay. She told me that I had a gash on my cheek with some unsightly coagulation of blood. When I arrived at work they promptly took me to a walk-in clinic where I was diagnosed with a concussion and sent for X-rays. I had instructions to avoid physical exertion, so no biking. Instead, I had a head-ache every day for the next six weeks, lived in a bit of a fog, walked into the wrong classroom, and forgot administrative details, but managed to show up for all my classes other than the day of the accident.

Then just as I was getting back on the bike they tell us all to stay home because of COVID-19! I have been going for a bike ride every day to try and simulate traveling to work but this year has been an unexpected sabbatical from biking to work every day. What a way to celebrate 20 years!