Today was an eventful day to say the least—full of the unexpected, both good and bad. As we drove to Port Renfrew from Victoria last night, before our launch, I was having very mixed feelings about the situation that I would face in the morning. The road was windier and had steeper grades than any roads we had driven on in the Rockies. I believe we counted 6 one-lane bridges. The road would leave its height, descending from the scenic lookouts over the open Pacific, and plunge you into the lush depths of a rainforest valley, only to cross a cute creek on a one-lane bridge. Some of the hills had switch-backs which the signs had posted a 20km/hr limit. There were many signs warning other road users of logging trucks. In addition, I had to travel over 100km on this road, and be at my destination just outside Victoria by 1pm foran event. It seemed that what I needed to do was unrealistic.
We stayed in a gorgeous campsite by the ocean in Port Renfrew. I woke up at 6am, ate a hearty breakfast, and then set out to the nearby ocean. For the first time since I had hockey at 7am when I was quite young, it wasn’t hard to wake up at 6. I walked into the shallow waters with my bike. It was actually freezing, but I didn’t really seem to care because of the significance of the moment. I filled up a jar with the ocean water. I got some photos, wrote my name and Kilometres for Communication in the sand—did all the proper ceremonial stuff that cross-Canada people do. A local woman walking her dog noticed this. She was friendly and came over to talk to us. She was supportive of what we were doing, but she seemed to think I was overly ambitious for trying to cycle to Victoria for 1pm.
There was one lung-blasting hill/mountain right near the beginning, just outside Port Renfrew, which took me 15 minutes to get up. It was steep, bumpy, curvy, and long. Luckily, I actually made great time. The other climbs didn’t seem bad at all after doing that one first. I was 8km away
from my destination by noon! Then I got the flat. I was going down a hill on
the shoulder of a fairly busy Sooke Road. I heard the pop and felt it. I have
had many flat tires and I’ve worked in a bike shop for 4 years—never have I
seen a flat tire like this one. A 1.5 inch, slightly angular, but bluntly edged
rock penetrated my tire and popped my rear tube. Anyways, my brand new $50 anti-puncture tire was done despite being barely ridden on—wasn’t expecting that. Also, just after I got the flat, I found out a Vancouver news station would be covering the event. Gail was dealing with media and was already parked near the event. By the time she finished her interview and found me in a lumber yard, it was 1:00pm. I got my tire fixed, and hauled it to the event. I got there by 1:15pm.
Local alternative and augmentative communicators met me with welcome signs. Augmentative and alternative communication is a mouthful of a term. The people I met today have a much better term—a ‘cooler’ term. They go as “cool communicators”. My question to them was what they wanted people to learn from the Kilometres for Communication campaign. Off the top of their heads, there were a couple things:
Alex: “People need to know that we will answer their questions, it will just take a while”. Sometimes the computers (speech generating devices) people use to communicate are slow and sometimes frustrating, and people need to understand that.
Ashleigh also touched on this. What Ashleigh wants to see out of this campaign is an increased willingness of people to slow down, be patient, and take the time to communicate with people who communicate alternatively. Our world is getting faster; people are glued to their Blackberries, multi-tasking with their Bluetooths, driving faster on our wider, smoother highways; yet it’s important not to get caught up with this and communicate less or not at all with someone because their communication seems too slow.
Melanie also thought of something on the spot. She wants people to be vigilant. Her communication device spells what she types, so someone can hear it and read it. If she’s trying to type something, and the person she’s trying to communicate with doesn’t notice, and walks away, that’s like walking away from someone who’s in the middle of a sentence.
Next time the Cool Communicators meet, they are going to discuss other needed changes, so there will be more to be posted in the future regarding attitudes and habits that need to be altered or lost.
In the end everything worked out great. We allgot a little taste of press today—and we made the A-Channel Vancouver news. The Cool Communicators made some fabulous signs to motivate me—I’ll be remembering all of you on those cold, rainy, windy days when I want to sleep, and not pedal a bike. Also, that horrid sounding road is one of the most spectacular roads to cycle on. I left early in the morning, quarter to 8, so the roads were quiet, the views were amazing, and the forests seemed enchanted. For any serious cyclists who want a day challenge, or a place to start such a ride, I do recommend the road from Port Renfrew to Langford.
It’s been a long day. 6am to…well it’s a half hour after midnight now. I have long day tomorrow. I’m hoping to get more pictures from the helmet cam and of our event up in the next couple days when I have high-speed internet in Vancouver. As well, we should have some pictures from our event in Nanaimo tomorrow.
It’s been a great start. Let’s keep the momentum going.