Eight-six year old Ken Gibbard, a retired Lansdowne science teacher, is going strong after a week-long cycling tour of Taipei in December and the Paddle for the Kids, 65-kilometre trek from Brentwood Bay to the Gorge Waterway in Voyageur canoes. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Retired Gordon Head teacher not ready to ride into the sunset

86-year-old keeping active with marathon paddling trek and week-long cycling tour

At 86, Ken Gibbard is as spry as the children he used to teach science to at Lansdowne middle school.

The retiree lives in the same Gordon Head home he had built in 1960 (he finished the interior himself). An avid paddler with the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club, he also gardens and cycles.

So what’s the trick to good health?

“No secret,” Gibbard smiles. “Just keep active, keep doing the things you do, and eat your vegetables.”

Gibbard’s garden is good source for some of his own veggies, and is one of the many things that keeps him busy.

With his health at an optimum, his daugher, J.D., suggested a bike tour of a foreign country. They settled on Taipei, landing there on Dec. 20. The cycling part of the trip was scheduled for a little over seven days. They rented bikes upon arrival.

The trip went well for Gibbard, but not for J.D.

“People might not realize this but there are a lot of 7-11 stores in Taipei,” Gibbard said. “One day I was behind J.D., who would sometimes bike ahead (they ride at different speeds] and I went into a 7-11. While I was in there, two police officers came in to get me. They knew exactly who they were looking for. I guess it wasn’t too hard to find someone of my description, cycling off the main road.”

The officers were nice, Gibbard recalls. They motioned for him to come with them, and drove him to a hospital where J.D. was.

“I was walking on the beach on my way down to dip my toe in the water because I had just crossed the Tropic of Cancer,” said J.D., a local instructor with Falcon Gymnastics. “As I was walking on the beach my leg bent backwards at the knee, the ligaments tore, the bones inside fractured, it was awful, I went right down.”

Everyone was very friendly, Gibbard recalled.

“Before we reached the hosptial we found a firefighter who spoke some English and was able to explain what was going on,” Gibbard said. “

J.D. spent a day in hospital then began the journey home. She had surgery upon her return and is still on crutches with limited flexibility in her leg, and is hopeful it will recover.

Since returning from Taipei, Gibbard did VCKC’s annual Paddle for the Kids circumnavigation of the Saanich Peninsula from Brentwood Bay to the Gorge Waterway, a 65-kilometer trek that can take up to 12 hours in voyageur canoes.

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