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The Bike Trip Diaries: Episode 1—Moving to Plan E

Eve, of Free Spirit Spheres

Dear Readers, if you didn’t know this about me already, what drives me is my annual summer bike trip. Oh, I don’t usually take just one, I go on lots of 3-and 4-day jaunts, but my annual loop of the Coast Cariboo Trail is my touchstone.

It started after my rehab. My goal, which I set while still on the ventilator, was to ride my bike to Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach, BC. The Spheres are round treehouses; they’re just magic. It had been on my bucket list for a while. It’s not that it was such a hard thing to do; my pre-crash body would have thought nothing of it, but it’s high-budget, and going north of safe, easily accessible Victoria on Vancouver Island seemed so extreme. I told myself that if I could get back on my bike and ride again, I could go to Free Spirit Spheres. From the moment I struggled to breathe on my own, I was in training for that ride.

Free Spirit Spheres was everything I hoped it would be. I adored my hosts, Rosey and Tom, and bonded with them both. They loved my story and I arrived to find Eve, my sphere, decorated with a congratulations banner. When my book about my recovery came out 3 years ago (in which they were featured), they treated me like a celebrity guest, taking me to dinner and showering me with gifts.

The year after my triumphant ride to Free Spirit Spheres, I added a town about 35 miles north, Comox. I had an online friend who lived there and I dearly wanted to meet her in real life. To my delight, she agreed to a visit, and that has become an annual tradition as well. The year after that, I did the entire Coast Cariboo loop, about 235 miles, from Vancouver up the Sunshine Coast to Powell River, across to Comox, and back down to Nanaimo. I made it a 2-week adventure, riding about 40 miles between towns and taking plenty of rest days in between. Over the years I’ve taken side trips to Campbell River and Quadra Island. My annual trip is my raison d’etre.

Not every year has gone smoothly. One year I had to split it into two trips because Timbits, my big black cat, got deathly ill. I never did get to the Sunshine Coast that year, because storms ruined my second attempt. That same year on my abbreviated trip, I fell and fractured my tailbone. Last year I was doing a food delivery job that was hard on my body, and it destabilized a rib that used to go out of joint a lot after my crash. My rib slid out of position while I was staying in my sphere, and I spent 2 days immobilized. This year is a complete mess. My delivery job ended last September when I fell and landed on concrete, on my face. I had so many other injuries, I didn’t even realize how badly my knee had been hurt. When I finally got into physical therapy last February, the therapist could still feel exactly where the concrete bit into my cartilage.

I’ve worked hard to get ready for a shortened version of my trip. There’s no way my knee can do the Sunshine Coast this year, so I didn’t even try for that. I decided to go to see my friend Renee, then visit Free Spirit Spheres. Two weeks ago Timbits got sick again, and he had to have oral surgery a few days ago. Renee had a family emergency come up, and we agreed to hold off on our visit until later this summer, but I still want to see Rosey, Tom, and their nephew Jamie. I can’t imagine going a year without seeing them!

Last weekend as I was struggling to catch up on my work as you do when heading out on vacation, my internet modem/router blew and I had to replace it. To Comcast’s credit, they overnighted everything I needed, but it took me a whole day to get it up and running. While I knelt on the daybed in my office to unscrew the coaxial cable from the wall, I overbent my knee and it’s sore again. Today I had too much work to catch up on and I spent the entire day sitting at my desk. My knee is furious! The idea of riding the 16-mile stretches between bus routes with a loaded bike is daunting, and possibly dangerous—it would most likely be tear-down activity rather than build-up activity, as I’ve described in the past.

For 8 years I’ve steadfastly resisted using my car on my summer trip. I’m all about bike travel—unsupported, carrying my own gear, using public transit where necessary. I can pack for 2 weeks in 7.5 cubic feet. Show me another woman who can do that! But this year I had to invite Kimmie, my car, to come with us. Fare on BC Ferries is so expensive, bringing the car hasn’t even been an option. But with it, I could drive to Qualicum Beach and swim without the added strain of the 10-mile hilly bike ride each way. I could drive to Comox and visit the place where I scattered the ashes of my 3 cats. It would be hitting the Easy button. This year, I think I need to do that. If it goes well, I can come back in August and visit Renee without the car, and maybe stop in at Free Spirit again on the way back. My knee can have another month of rehab before I try it. I’ve only been back on my bike for 3 months after 6 months off it. I’m carrying 20 extra pounds from the lowered activity. Normally I’m doing 48-mile training rides by now. So far this summer my record ride has been 27 miles. I’m just not where I need to be to do loaded touring.

So now I’m trying to get into a place where it doesn’t feel like I’m selling out or admitting defeat. I care much more about my mode of transport than my friends do.

Recovery is rarely linear. I’ve been incredibly lucky to confine my setbacks to the winter months so far. This year I got unlucky. I can pout about it or I can be resourceful and get the most from my visit.

When have you had to accept a setback? Were you able to handle it well?

The Bike Trip Diaries: Episode 1—Moving to Plan E

Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.

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, . (2018). The Bike Trip Diaries: Episode 1—Moving to Plan E. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jul 2018
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