3.5 Weeks Out – Determination from Prep Leads to More New Experiences .. and a Bike Accident!

After watching the Vancity Showdown Bodybuilding competition this past weekend I was determined more than ever to truly fit in cardio as part of my fitness journey! It was exciting to see these other benefits of competition prep and how it served as a reason for me to keep pushing myself in other areas in my life. I mentioned biking to work (almost a one hour commute) as something that I always wanted to do, but never did until I realized it would be a great way to fit in fasted AM cardio!

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I’ve been feeling really good about biking in to UBC. I’m seeing progress and making it up the hill with no breaks. My time was also improving. I was enjoying it so much that I  even biked to UBC on the weekend with Eric and friends!

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Then October, and all the rain and darkness that comes with it, arrived with full force.

BUT!!

I wanted to build on this momentum of regular biking and was committed to embracing Vancouver and its elements so I decided: I will BIKE IN THE RAIN like a true Vancouverite!

Inspired from the weekend’s show and seeing other competitors that gave it their all for their prep, I went out Monday night and bought all new lights and rain gear from MEC.

Here’s my haul – no messing around!

  • Bright rain jacket
  • 2 pairs of waterproof pants (thanks MEC for your excellent return policy so I could test both of them out)
  • Helmet cover
  • Shoe Cover
  • Strong front light
  • Back light
  • Wrist light (for my left hand when signalling)
  • Lights for wheels

Grand total: Just short of $600. Pretty hefty, but my life is worth it haha.

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The next morning I had a meeting at 7:30 am so I was prepared to leave my house at 5:30 to give myself enough time to arrive and shower.

Woke up. Put on the gear that I had laid out the night before and braved the torrential rain.

It was wet, but it was also refreshing! After awhile, your body adjusts to the strange feeling of rain pouring on you and it doesn’t seem so irritating and uncomfortable anymore. I felt empowered – I could totally keep doing this for the rest of the year!

While I usually went along the beach, I decided to go up 4th to have more lights. Pushed up the hill and that’s when the lights started to thin out as I merged onto the University road – a long stretch of forest with not a single street lamp. The rain was still pounding hard and only now did I realize: what a terrible day to bike given the weekend’s wind storm! We had wind warnings all week about a hurricane and there was debris strewn all over the roads.

This is the road (with no lights!!) that I was biking along.

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And BAM, given the combination of darkness and debris I swerved out of control and hit the side curb, flying over my bike and sliding into the muddy grass bank beside me. It was one of the scariest things that has happened to me!! But I was truly very lucky!!

  • There were no cars around at 6 am so no chance of getting hit
  • I fell onto muddy grass instead of the pavement
  • I wore lots of layers and a big backpack to break my fall

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I was really relieved that nothing seemed to hurt too much, and after getting over the shock, and the fear that my bike or my body might be injured, I managed to stand up and rolled onto my bike and pedaled away very slowly.

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Got to my meeting on time, freshened up, and was very grateful for colleagues that drove me to St. Paul’s Hospital afterwards to get official clearance and reassurance that I didn’t sustain any fractures or injuries.

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I shared that photo above and I received a lot of kind messages from friends and a ton of new advice for biking in the rain! I was also surprised to hear ALL the stories of other people’s bike accidents – once again, was feeling extremely grateful that it wasn’t worse.

Joanna – I broke my wrist a few weeks ago riding a bike! Be safe darling!

 

Some advice from others:

On finding the best route to UBC

Tommy – For safety, I’d go Off Broadway to University. For scenic either up 3rd to 4th or down to Marine. One thing to keep in mind, Marine by Spanish Banks is a microclimate, often quite a bit colder than the rest of Vancouver so watch for ice.

Edwardo – I usually take the off Broadway route, and it’s pretty consistent. Bring bike lights, and if you are going to be through an area with no lighting upgrade to a headlight (ask a bike store for one). If you don’t have it already use hybrid tires for rain, install splash guards for your tires, and wear reflective clothing.

On getting the best lights:

Rachel – http://www.fenixtactical.com/fenix-hl60r.html
Hey PoOn! I use this brand of headlamp when i rode my bike at 5am. Its waterproof and goes up to 950 lumens (which is almost as bright as a car headlight i think). I only turned it up higher when there were no lights and turned it back down when there were street lights again. Its more expensive but its definitely worth it if you need to see and are biking more frequently! It uses up a lot of batteries when its on 950 lumens but the one I have has 4 different light settings so I just dim it down when I don’t need it as bright. But its nice to be able to see everything ahead of you when you are biking!!

Other encouraging comments:

Marcin – You’ve got more guts than I do
Andrea – Maybe biking to work is a seasonal activity? #toodange
Jazz – I’m glad your okay but a part of me wants to laugh because it’s a PoOn thing….that’s just what you do. ☺ I hope you’re okay.
Joseph – Don’t give up! Would better lights help?
Benjamin – If I fell in the mud like you did, I imagine I would cry. I hope you are okay! I am really encouraged/proud to see that you brave these elements to go to work every day. You are very healthy in mind and spirit. Thank goodness it is just mud.
Tina – thank goodness your safe. On a brighter note, you look cute with mud splattered all over you.
Julie – Wow. I was in a meeting with you at 9 am and you were completely unruffled! So impressed with your resiliency!
Susan– Yikes, maybe think about a nice safe, warm car and go to spin class instead!

And then I had multiple friends share this link with me:

Cyclist says his pool noodle makes Toronto Streets safer for him

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In hindsight, this really was the WORST possible day for me to try biking in the rain. But at least now I have lots of new advice and I know that I need use a better biking route and maybe even stronger lights.

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Much like the other lessons in prep, as long as I learn from this and get back on it, the experience will have all been worth it.

And yes, I did get back on my bike a few days later 🙂 The local bike shop at work confirmed that I had some minor alignment issues but that it would be ok to ride for now.

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