I spent much of last year with my head deep in bikes. I rode bikes, photographed races, organized the BC Bike Race, and wrote a column for Bike Mag; it was an amazing year where a biblical Crankworx
and an Apocalypse Now-esque Red Bull Rampage
, on behalf of Pinkbike, were just two of the many highlights. Over the years, my social circle has become very two-wheel oriented; when I was not out riding with friends, I was making plans to go, or meeting new people with the same passion. Mountain biking has slowly infiltrated every part of my life, even to the extent that my work and personal time blend together around events, parties and contracts. But then suddenly, it was all gone.
It would be three months before I finally pulled my bike out of storage and started to think about my new column with Pinkbike again; now 90 days overdue. The only problem? I would not know if I liked riding bikes anymore.
“Your dad is sick
.” This message, sent from my mom in Mexico, changed my whole world in less than 24 hours. It, not only took biking out of my life; it also abruptly removed me from my community – not unlike a toy being plucked up by the claw in a vending machine, only to be dropped into a completely different reality.
Everything stopped for me when I moved into the hospital with my Dad, I felt frozen in time while I watched the world go on around me via social media. After two weeks of hospitalization in Mexico and another three back in Canada, my dad passed away. My daily routine, that had once included bikes in one form or another, had barely included fresh air in that time.
I expected that life would return to normal - I would finally move back home, sleep in my own bed, reintroduce myself to my roommate (who was probably wondering where I had gone
) and maybe even get out for a ride. But life was not normal and riding did not happen. I was more tired than I had ever felt in my life, and I was busy - death comes with much paper work and many hoops through which to jump.
It was another two months still before I would find myself looking at my unwashed and hastily stored bike and realize that I could not even remember why I used to ride.
The feelings of freedom, joy, accomplishment and happiness that riding had once evoked in me were so buried that everything about the process felt foreign. Instead, I tried to write, I dug into the stack of articles that were now months behind, but I found that I had nothing interesting to say. I actually had nothing to say at all. My experiences were so far removed from anything related to the riding community that everything I wrote started with hesitation and ended with a whimper.
Finally, without any further paperwork to complete, memorials to think about or commitments to keep with family, I realized that I had to face my bike. It was more than the act of riding that I was missing, it was also my work, my community, my life.
I set out to ride. I went to Squamish, Bellingham and finally home to North Vancouver.
As my lungs burned on the climbs, my hospital-vending-machine-induced-muffin-top jiggled over the bumps, and my lady parts became intimately re-acquainted with the brutality that is my bike seat, I finally started to smile. The dread of discovering that I did not want to ride bikes anymore began to vanish as I crested each climb hacking and coughing like an old man. Encouraged by smiling friends, laughter, hi-fives, glimpses of flowy greatness, and grace-less crashes, I began to feel normal again.
These have not been hot laps, nor training rides, and they certainly have not been ego building. They are imperfect, filled with rain, flats, sore bits and getting lost. We have stopped too long for photos and abandoned third laps in favour of an egg benny brunch. These adventures are the B-side of mountain biking; the unexpected successes. They are more than the act of riding, they are living.Welcome to the B-side