Jannie

From intensive care to bike marathon

Just three years ago Jannie was lying in intensive care in Victoria, with a marathon bike ride the furthest thing from her mind.

Jannie Koomen feels lucky to be walking.

It’s a miracle she can ride a bike all the way to Seattle.

Jannie, along with her husband Jacob, will be riding from Vancouver to Seattle this summer in this year’s Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Just three years ago Jannie was lying in intensive care in Victoria, with a marathon bike ride the furthest thing from her mind.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” says Jannie who suffered a major cycling accident while on her way with Jacob to visit friends on Cortes Island.

As fate would have it, the couple planned to take their tandem bike over to the island but the morning of their trip, Jacob went to the garage only to discover it had two broken spokes and they were forced to take separate bikes.

Unfamiliar with the terrain on Cortes, Jannie was going way too fast down hill when she failed to navigate a steep corner. Her bike hit a log and came to an abrupt stop but Jannie didn’t.

She flew off her bike into the woods where she landed hard on all fours and then rolled, striking her head on a rock. She suffered a broken spine, two broken arms and a minor brain injury.

“The first thing the doctor said was if I wasn’t wearing a helmet I wouldn’t be alive,” says Jannie.

It took her almost a year to get back on a bike.

Now, aside from the occasional sore back, Jannie is fully recovered and ready to tackle the Ride to Conquer Cancer June 18-19, for the second time in as many years.

Jannie will be riding with Jacob on the tandem bike they have dubbed Spirit Rider.

Jannie, who runs her own porcelain doll making business out of her home studio, saw her brother die from cancer at the age of 59 in 2006.

Jacob, meanwhile, saw two co-workers  lose their battles with cancer within months of each other last year.

“We have a pack that sits at the back of our bike and we say all the spirits are in there,” says Jannie. “It’s full of spirits, they ride with us.”

The ride, which is 260 kilometres long, is an initiative of the BC Cancer Agency to support cancer research. It raised $6.9 million in its first year and $9.6 million in its second year. Jacob says the race is growing and they hope to top that total this year. In order to participate, Jacob and Jannie need to raise a minimum of $5,000.

They are holding a dance with musical group Ten Times Bigger on Saturday, March 26 at the Legion Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the Music Plant and Balloons N More Party Shop.

For Jacob this will be his third year participating in the ride. In 2009 he had to ride alone because Jannie, who volunteered to provide medical support, was still recuperating from the accident.

He says the best thing about the ride is getting to share his passion for cycling with his wife.

“I love riding my bike. I step on my bike and sometimes ride to Nanaimo,” says Jacob. “The best part is we do it together on the tandem. Ever since the accident I’ve always been worried about Jannie and this way I know where she’s at and I can talk to her.”

Jannie says she enjoys the camaraderie shared between the cyclists.

“Everybody’s doing the same thing and it’s nice to talk to people and find out their stories,” she says.

At the end of the race, there is a celebration ceremony at the University of Washington.

“It’s like finishing a major cycling event,” says Jacob.

“A loud speaker announces your name and thousands of people are waiting and cheering you on with signs and Canadian flags.”

Just Posted

Toy donation brings some action to Campbell River Christmas hampers

The Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper Fund received a donation of 175… Continue reading

North Island-Powell River MP surprised by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s resignation

But it doesn’t change anything for the NDP, Rachel Blaney says

Phoenix class fills 32 shoeboxes for annual Campbell River Shoebox Project for Women

‘We get lots of presents, and I think they should get some, too.’

Campbell River Skating Club to welcome Patrick Chan for annual gala in March

Excited club says tickets for event will go on sale in January

Fund launched to get more art in the Campbell River Hospital

Hospital wants to ‘reflect the community its in,’ and art is a way to do that, site director says

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Owner surrenders dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage to BC SPCA

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

B.C. plane crash victim identified; witnesses describe ‘explosion’

He was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta

BC Hydro offers tips as collisions with power poles increase

Region with the largest spike in collisions was the Lower Mainland at 16 per cent

Most Read