By Seble Samuel
2015 West Coast Tour member
We were warmly welcomed into the Glen Valley Organics community with a delicious potluck lunch. We brought freshly picked greens from Glorious Organics (thanks to David and Co.) and we got to taste Glen Valleys own locally grown treats. Chris, a phenomenal steward and farmer gave us an incredible tour of the 50 acre farm where they grow a variety of produce such as squash, raspberries, rapini, kale, bok choi, sorrel, and chives. All the produce is nurtured by city-provided compost which creates just enough nutrients for the plants so it does not pollute the neighbouring water systems. The organic farm also protects the surrounding environment such as the local bee habitat. During the tour, he shared with us so much farming wisdom. We learned how all the worlds food is grown on just a thin layer of precious topsoil. How every handful of soil contains more microorganisms than humans on the planet. How different crops are planted in a rotation to nurture the soil. How climate change is reducing water supply across farms on the western coast. Listening to how passionate and knowledgeable Chris is about sustainable food, made us more aware and conscious about the different complicated processes it takes to put food on our plates.
It was our 70 kilometre doomsday and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere. Or more precisely, we were stranded somewhere in the Fraser Valley halfway between Abbotsford and Vancouver, on the shoulder of Kingsway Avenue with a major bike breakdown. We tried getting onto a public bus to make our way to Vancouver, but the bus driver looked at us impatiently and told us there was no room; no room for our bikes, our panniers or our trailers. Without a clue of what to do next…ringalingaling…Paul (part of our lovely Unitarian Church hosts) calls to the rescue. Magic Maker Paul arrives in a jiffy and he even manages to fix the bike to boot!
Stanley Park. Approaching dusk. Climbing the slope to Lion’s Gate Bridge. Bike down. Anne’s chain gets stuck, and we mean real stuck, in the cassette. Emergency pick-up of the day has already been dispatched (see Magic Maker Paul). We need to fix this one on our own… Or do we?
Cue fairy god father knight in shining armour riding on his sleek metal steed (aka bicycle).
“You good with chains?” Ask the damsels in distress.
“Yeah, I’m pretty good with chains,” responds knight in shining armour.
And with that, panniers to the side, bike flipped over, and bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! Chain is FIXED! Turns out our knight in shining armour, Jordan, works in the bicycle department of North Van’s MEC. Of course he does. Cheers to you Jordan. If it weren’t for you, our 9 hour bike ride would’ve been 13.
It was one of those days you could feel it. We had just gotten off the ferry. All bikers that have taken a ferry know about the dreadful hill that follows. We were already pressed for time and sleep deprived when we started climbing the Everest slope. That’s when my bike broke down. After about a breakdown a day on tour, I had had it. Enough was enough. I was covered in bike grease bawling my eyes out on Sunshine Coast Highway 101. The team was circling my bike when a black minivan pulled up and the sweetest woman popped out to offer me a ride. I was just so awed that I stood there with tears running down my cheeks. My team started loading up my bike and led me to the front seat. Diana drove me to the bike shop and stayed a while to make sure I was okay. My team wanted me to take a taxi to get to the school on time but just as my bike got fixed and I started to load it into the taxi the gang rolled past the store calling my name. I joined them with a smile on my face yelling “pussy bike gang!”
We had just finished one of our most exhausting and stressful rides from Horseshoe bay to Davis Bay Elementary. After the performance we all collapsed on the gym floor scraping up the last bits of grapefruit we had packed. I was a bit disappointed to learn that we had to bike an additional 10 km to stay at our hosts house. Upon arriving at our new home for the night though, we discovered that we would be anything but disappointed with our host’s hospitality. Kim, a teacher from Davis Bay, along with her two enthusiastic dogs Sophie and Zoey, warmly welcomed us into their beautiful two story home, offering us the second floor which to us was similar to sleeping at a five star resort. Once we entered, Kim happily showed us her house, and let us take sorely needed showers and laundry which left us feeling freshly clean and relieved. Biseblette, the cooking squad also got to use Kim’s state of the art kitchen plus equipment to stir up a delectable pasta dinner. Before we all sat down to eat there was a great sense of gratitude among all of us for the meal. Finally we were all in for a surprise at the end of the meal thanks to Kim. ICE CREAM SUNDAES!
Although we only stayed over one night, we truly felt at home fostered under Kim’s care.
Off the Edge Bike Shop:
This story proves that small local bike shops are amazing. As we continued up the Sunshine Coast, there weren’t a lot of bike stores that could fix my bike. Along with Todd (see final Magic Maker) I explained my situation to this local bike store “Off the Edge” and they simply said “no problem we’ll get your bike fixed”. They took my bike even though there were 60 bikes that needed fixing. These miracle workers fixed it even though it needed a lot of work. They stayed late after hours and then didn’t even charge me for tuning it up. Turns out they put two and two together when they saw us in the newspaper with my rushed description of the tour. The Sunshine Coast truly has wonderful people.
Where do we even begin? You may be, to quote Lauryn Hill, the sweetest thing we’ve ever known. First, how you even convince a local bike shop to take in Liz’s road bike overnight for some much needed bike love when there are 60 other bicycles in the waiting line, is beyond us. Second, you fit not one, not two, not three, not four, not even five, but allllllll of us, our bikes, plus our trusty companions (panniers & trailers) all the way to Sechelt. And you still didn’t stop. Next on, how-to-spoil-a-team-of-rookie- bike-touring-adventurous-gals, was PIZZA! Greek & Seafood delights! Turns out, Daphne’s allergic to shrimp, but that sure didn’t stop her. This is pretty much how big our smiles were all day.
Now that is some serious Sunshine Coast heart right there.
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