By Mark Buckshon
As summer winds down, I like to recall how simple decisions can have long-lasting (and hopefully truly positive consequences.)
Consider, for example, Robert Merkley’s decision, along with other local construction industry leaders, more than a decade ago to encourage the Ottawa Hospital Foundation to start an 100 km annual cycling fundraising event.
When he approached me the first year (2010), I couldn’t participate because of a scheduling conflict, but I had no excuse in 2011.
I pulled out my long-unused bike, a 40-year-old 10-speed purchased for $50 (used) shortly after I arrived in the city in 1981. Somehow I made it through the route to Merrickville, arriving not dead-last, but certainly rather worn out.
The experience however caused me to recapture the cycling bug. I started commuting on decent weather days the 10 km or so from home to office. I felt some pride as I made the distance.
A couple of years later, I graduated to a $750 hybrid bike, picking up more distance and longer commutes.
The Ride ended in 2020, but my interest in cycling didn’t. In 2019, I purchased my first carbon frame bicycle, after learning how to manage so-called “clipless” cycling shoes – a misnomer if ever, because with these shoes, if you aren’t careful, you are going to fall with the bike as your feet/shoes are quite firmly attached to the special pedals.
Distances increased, hours on the bike grew. Last September, in place of The Ride event, I joined a much smaller Ottawa Construction Association gathering to support the hospital.
In May, this year, I learned a faulty installation of the bike on my winter training device had caused me to crack its carbon frame. Repairs would be difficult and expensive. Overall the project required almost four months as the frame had to be sent to a place in Western Ontario for repair, and a critical part needed to be ordered and shipped from China.
Rather than wait to be on the road again, I decided to take things up a notch, finding a retailer near Montreal with a bike in my size (despite pandemic-related shortages). With tax, the two-wheeled mechanical device cost more than $10,000.
Wow. Going from $50 to seven figures might seem extreme, but how much would a high-end car cost? And, as I approach 70-years-old, I know the cycling is helping my health, averting potential problems with diabetes while maintaining a healthy cardiovascular status.
Decisions we make today can certainly influence our lives in the future, and in ways we cannot always expect. It never hurts to engage in projects supporting community service and health, and the rewards can extend far beyond your obvious contributions.
Mark Buckshon is the president of the Construction News and Report Group, which publishes Ottawa Construction News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.