When Lake Country councillor Owen Dickie decided to head to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler late last month, he thought he had the perfect way to get to the event, being held in picturesque Whistler.
He opted to ride his motorbike, taking the scenic Duffy Lake Road through Lillooet, down to Pemberton and finally to Whistler.
What he didn’t count on was ending up in a ditch after a harrowing experience and near head-on collision.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” said Dickie last week, as he hobbled along on crutches in an interview with the Lake Country Calendar. “It could have been much worse.”
As Dickie was starting his journey on the Duffy Lake Road, near Lillooet, in a windy stretch of highway, a large truck appeared around a bend and started to enter his lane.
“I had decided to take my bike because it’s such a nice drive,” he explained. “I can’t tell you what kind of truck it was, only that it was big. He came into my lane, so I moved over a bit, but it looked like he was coming even further into my lane, so I moved over even more.”
Unfortunately for Dickie, a first-term councillor representing the ward of Oyama, crews had been working in the ditch and there was some gravel on the shoulder. The tires of his bike gave way on the loose gravel, and Dickie and his bike careened into the ditch, throwing the councillor right over the handlebars.
“I remember laying on the ground and people coming up to me,” said Dickie. “A couple first responders helped me up and we managed to get my bike up and out of the way, so we wouldn’t stop traffic.”
Dazed, but walking, Dickie got a tow for his bike back into Lillooet, where he went to work trying to get it started again. After three hours of tinkering, without other mechanical help, the bike fired up and, unfazed, Dickie set off on the Duffy Lake Road heading for Whistler.
“I knew my foot was hurt badly,” he said. “I definitely didn’t want to take my boot off or I wouldn’t get it back on. When I was leaving Lillooet, someone asked me if I was OK. I said: ‘You have to get back on the horse that threw you.’ It might have crossed my mind (not to attend the UBCM), but the district paid a lot of money for me to be there.”
Arriving in Whistler that night, Dickie received some help to get his bike into parking and was finally able to relax in his room and remove his boot. He was in a lot of pain, so the next morning, he missed the first sessions of the convention to go to a doctor’s office where they wrapped his foot.
“They wanted to send me to Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver, but I wasn’t going to do that and miss the meetings,” he said. “I did as much as I could (during the five day conference). Some of the things I couldn’t do. By mid-afternoon, I really needed to take a break.”
On the final day, Dickie’s wife had driven down to Whistler, and he finally decided to deke out of the UBCM meetings, head home and see his doctor. He was diagnosed with a broken heel, with three other bones in his foot cracked.
Attending the UBCM was worth it in the end, in his view.
“It was incredibly painful, but it’s so valuable to talk to the other politicians and find out that everyone is having the same problems as you,” he said.
And despite the pain and suffering, Dickie says he won’t hesitate to get out on the open road with his bike and may even ride to the next UBCM.
“It depends where it is,” he said. “And how nice of a ride it is.”