Life In The Loops - Carving Time

Mar 6, 2018
by Dylan Sherrard  


Time is a constant ticking. But some people bend it, break it, and carve it into a shape that suits them best.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

It’s a foggy January morning when Phil and I begin pedalling into Kenna Cartwright Park. “Now you’re just going to need to give me a minute to let my lungs warm up here. Thats about the only part of me that seems to be wearing out so far,” Phil mentions as we cover our pre-trip notes. And he continues, “But you know, we could be dead… So we aren't going to worry about it!”

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

At 64 years young, and living life on the wiser side of time, Phil Lingren figures he’s the strongest he has ever been. He walks with a careless sway and lives in a state of splendour that breathes light into the day.

“It’s my Sanity!” he exclaims in reference to his love for riding bicycles.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Phil grew up in Kamloops and found mountain biking a little later in life. He still carries a fond memory of test riding a bicycle and feeling an immediate return to his childhood. All these years later, he finds himself falling deeper in love with riding each passing season and he is still learning a lot about himself with every turn of the trail.

Phil hasn’t owned a personal car in twenty-odd years, and he rides home from work every night, regardless of the season. And, as Phil tapers into his retirement, he figures those evening rides have been helping to keep him young all along.

“You know, I’ve been ready to be done working for a few years now. But I enjoy seeing all the people each day. So much, that sometimes the boss gives me trouble for talking with people for too long. So maybe if that happens again sometime in this next year, it’ll be a good time to pull the plug,” figures Phil.



Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

As we travel along our frosted trail, ghostly shapes of trees surround us in the fog. Phil tells me stories of how his fat bike has made him more mobile and given him the chance to ride year round with a greater ease. He tells me about the incredible feeling of freedom he finds when the trail is rolling beneath his tires and the rest of the world melts away. And then we cross paths with another character in the trail.



“How are we doin today!” Phil shouts out as if this man were a great old friend.

“Oh its just good to be out. Shame we can’t see much through this fog, though,” tells the old man from behind his puffy hood and black glasses.

“Well we're headed the same way, so maybe,” suggests Phil with a large grin, “when you reach the top, if you wouldn’t mind just blowing real hard, we’ll see if you can clear that view for us.”



The old fella on foot laughs with a look of disbelief, and chuckles his way through saying, “I’ll give it my best shot,” before he carries on past us with a smile.



“You know, I love old guys like that,” exclaims Phil, still holding tight to the same grin.


“Phil, I think you are an old guy like that,” I suggest, semi-sarcastically.
 His face lights up, his grin grows a little bigger, and he begins to pedal again before he admits, “Huh. I guess your right.”

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren



The rest of our ride is much the same. Short sessions of pedalling and huffing and puffing in the trees. Listening to Phil’s old stories and stopping to talk with other wanderers. The fog slowly grows thicker and we search for long lines and little windows between the trees that might lend well to a photo. Phil has a keen eye for all of it. So we played around a little while longer before deciding we had better get on to some lunch.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

“Maybe we can talk Sue into making us lunch!” Phil begins scheming as we load back into my truck.

Driving the road home to Phil’s, we slide into a conversation about perspective amongst people, about treating people equally, and about choosing our attitudes towards any given circumstances in life. We both agree with the idea that while we can’t be too much in control of what takes place in life, we can always be in control of how we choose to respond to life’s outcomes.

That conversation carries us through lunch and into Phil’s home studio, where his art comes to life. Much of the furniture in his home was handcrafted from his own workbench, but his carvings are what really catch my eye. Faces of old forest people, intricate cabins or treehouses, and incredibly detailed structures stemming from multiple pieces of wood. Every piece features a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail I can only begin to understand. But Phil, quite willing, shows me the tricks to creating patterns and shares the folklore of the forest people his work has always adhered to.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Carving has been more than just a hobby following Phil through his life, as his work has reached a near professional level. He has submitted his art to be judged in large events purely for his desire to learn, and some of that work has been decorated with multiple awards. But Phil has never sought after selling his carvings or turning it into a career, sighting that he feels it would be a dangerous thing, turning his passion into a profession.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

I can't help but wonder how the teachings of such a detail oriented and attention consuming craft could trickle into other aspects of a person's life. So I ask, “Is there anything you’ve learned with carving that you’ve applied to the rest of your life, Phil?” 
He ponders for a moment and considers that carving may be a teacher of great patience or an opportunity for a quiet escape from the noise of the day. And then he admits that he’s a bit of a perfectionist.

“In my life, ‘OK’ doesn’t cut it,” begins Phil, with the same strong grin I saw all morning, “Perfect, is just fine, thank you!”

Phil continues on a bit, about how carving allows him the chance to be very much in control of his every move and any possible outcome. And he agrees that a parallel motivation exists between his carving and his lifestyle choices.


“I came home one night, a bunch of years ago, and I asked Sue and the kids,” Phil recalls, “ 'would you like Dad at home, and broke. Or do you want me away and making money?' And the next morning, I went into work and told the boss he had two weeks to find himself a new tree feller.”

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren


Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

As the afternoon moves on, we wonder if we’ll have a chance to catch some colourful sky before the evening sets in. And although the day is still nestled beneath a concrete ceiling of fog, we set out for another short pedal close to Phil’s home, regardless. We ride around for a bit, bumping into a few more older fellas. Each and every one greeted with the same enthusiasm and wished as well as those who we met in the morning.

We play around a bit, but we aren’t granted any gorgeous evening lights or shadows to shoot. 
So as the sky begins to darken, I offer, “Well Phil, I’m not sure about you, but I can’t imagine it would be the worst thing in the world if we had to hang around together another day soon, and had ourselves another crack at chasing a pretty winter sunset.”



Phil shares my sentiment and invites me around for a beer. An invitation that would simply be rude to decline.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

So we gather around the kitchen table, where Phil and his wife, Sue, share stories of their friends far and wide. He talks fondly of a younger friend in the Kootenay region, always bugging him to come out for a fat bike ride. "A real crafty woodworker himself," says Phil. I hear stories of vacations long gone, and view souvenirs from funny little towns along the way.

With retirement on the horizon and youth by his side, Phil has a lot of riding dreams he’s still hoping to realize. He asks if I’d like to take him down to Utah, or up to the Yukon someday, because he dislikes flying and doesn’t figure he can drive such lengthy roads by his lonesome anymore. But he also mentions that he doesn’t imagine he’ll start to slow down until he turns 85, and so there is very little urgency to his offer.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

And as Phil continues with stories of all the patches of Kamloops forest that he finds most attractive in the soft light of a sunrise or the turns beneath certain trees that flow so well he can’t help but to climb back up and ride them once more, I remain eager to hear his every word. Because I can only imagine what a wonderful world we would be living in, if we all chose to carve our way through time with such grace and intention as Phil has.

Photos for Life In The Loops with Phil Lingren

I owe a very special thank you to Phil for taking the time to ride and collect photos, for the 100 cups of coffee he poured me during the process, for letting me warm my wimpy fingers inside his bar mitts, and for sharing so much perspective with me. The process has truly been a pleasure.


76 Comments

  • + 86
 Genuinely enjoyed reading that. We all ride bikes for different reason, Phil's story is one of them. Keep on riding Phil.
  • + 8
 Thank you @tuskaloosa. Phil's an inspiring character!
  • + 39
 Phil is riding. This man is a genuine individual who has always been doing it purely for the love. Every time I need a tool, I rush up to his work and hope to run into him and chat about the latest bike ride or bike part he is stoked on. Super rad to see you expose Phil and his joy for riding Dylan, well done! Bravo
  • + 5
 Thanks gang @WeAreOne. Characters like Phil are why I love Kamloops!
  • + 22
 I love stories like this one, just about regular people who ride bikes and have a regular life. You don't necessarily need a pro rider neither a fancy adventure trip to some rad mountains located far away from the civilization to tell a cool story. I've enjoyed the reading. Good writing Dylan, thanks for this piece.
  • + 6
 @kabelleira right!? There's a lot of extraordinary aspects about living a laid back life and I think a happy, healthy lifestyle built around bikes deserves just as much celebration as those lifestyles more commonly glorified. I'm glad you caught that angle. Thank you!
  • + 13
 this made me happy. it means i must have at least another 20 years on my bike. that's a good feeling.
  • + 3
 @jetst isn't it the coolest to see someone a little older still riding bikes and smiling about it? I'm looking forward to it too...
  • + 11
 I use Pogies here in Sweden and I have perfected my no hands snot rocket *check no one behind you..... bamn* mucus expunged from nasal canals

So nice to learn new bike handling skills at my age.
  • + 2
 It's called snarfing. And yes it's polite to watch you don't shoot others with your viscous projectile.
  • + 1
 @howsyourdad: definitely thundercats. Lol
  • + 9
 I love reads like this. Seeing people of any age doing what they love is inspiring.
  • + 2
 Thanks @skiffer! Hanging with Phil makes me feel excited about getting older!
  • + 5
 I can relate 53 years young Commute ny bike no car I greet everyone on my bike with positive enthusiasm. I find if your on a bike or on foot in the great out doors. People are open minded and glad to be alive. It's true selling your art forces the artist to create what people want. Instead of concentrating on individual expression. Great story . Riding keeps us young.
  • + 5
 This is such a great story. Hope to see more write ups like this.

I am born a Canadian, always will be one, and will move back to BC one day when possible. But as I am currently in the USA and dreaming of finding a way out of my career to further optimize bike-happiness, what pops into my head is how great it is to have universal healthcare coverage that is affordable like Canada. I wonder if Phil would have left his job as easily without healthcare?

In the USA, part of one's salary/benefits is basic healthcare coverage and I gotta say knowing that I'd have to pay about $1000/month to keep my family insured really makes it tougher for me to leave the career. Maybe I'm just scared but I know I'm not alone - once you have good benefits/healthcare here you don't want to take a chance on leaving your self/kids/family exposed. Especially if your plan is to be out on gnarly mtn bike trails that much more instead of behind a desk. A broken arm can be $50K.
  • + 2
 @tsn73 That certainly sounds like a good place to be right now. But I do hope you can navigate your way towards the towns and the trails that you are dreaming of someday!
  • + 7
 Although I am not a "fat bike" fanatic, I do appreciate a variety of topics as well as a variety of age groups. Great job!
  • + 1
 Thanks @gorgefreerider! I was a little reluctant myself... but when you've got such great company as Phil, I'd imagine pretty well any bike to be exciting.
  • + 1
 @dylansherrard: Exactly! it's not about what kind of bike we ride... its the ride itself. The experiences and people we encounter as we are riding. I would argue that even if Phil had to ride an electric fat bike, it would still have been the same experience.
  • + 4
 What a fantastic life! I'd give up body parts to ride every day to work in surroundings like that! (that said the parts might not be worth much to anyone) the carving's are quite wonderful too, more of this content please PB.
  • + 2
 Thanks @joolz7! I'm going to keep releasing these articles periodically while I pick through my long list of inspiring Kamloops characters... I think it'll be keeping me busy for a while.
  • + 7
 Would love to see more content like this on here! Good reads and photos.
  • + 2
 Thanks @georgemerrill, I've got a long list of inspiring characters to keep chipping away with Smile
  • + 2
 A very enjoyable read and inspiring too, I can imagine Phil and I would get on really well. I've just hit 50 and work seems to be taking over my life, where I hardly see my family let alone get out and ride much. Time for a reality check I think. Thanks for writing the article.
  • + 4
 Great story about an amazing guy. Thanks PB for the Tuesday pick - me - up story. Riding tonight, rain, snow ,fog...I'm riding!
  • + 1
 @litespeed74 yer most welcome, mate! Hope the trails are rolling smooth and easy tonight.
  • + 1
 Hi @dylansherrard. Enjoy all your stories and videos, but this one in particular. It shows, there are no limits to enjoy the freedom of riding bikes, no matter what age or bike we are on, it's the attitude that counts. We will only see more guys and girls like Phil in the future, as our sport grows and we enjoy better health and fitness in the second half of our lives.

Greetings from Williams Lake, hope the snow will be gone for our annual Easter riding trip to Kamloops!
  • + 1
 Aw thanks so much @caribooyj !
  • + 4
 Thanks @dylansherrard. Always enjoy your work, bringing light to the people and life around you.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the love @Sponger I'm real glad you enjoy it!
  • + 5
 only rags are old!!! cheers!!
  • + 2
 I am super grateful to read this article. See these photos. Simple enjoyment of the trails, of this magnificent thing we all love to ride. No backflips needed. Inspiring. Makes me want to get out there more.
  • + 1
 I'm 61 and not far off his age and can relate entirely. Not sure if I could give up my car though. Riding bikes of all kinds is the best way of stopping you from thinking too much except what is ahead of your wheel or view beyond. Picked up a fat bike last year and now get out 3-4 times a week in the great white north exploring various trails. For those that haven't experienced it, give it a go, you won't regret it. Yes poggies help a lot. Can't say we have quite the views as what Phil has and he has more artistic talent in one finger than I have in my whole body.
  • + 4
 Seems like such a cool guy. Glad to see he still enjoys bikes so much... and that I get to as well for years to come!
  • + 1
 Makes ya feel like we've got a lot to look forward to eh @BEEner ?
  • + 1
 @dylansherrard: absolutely! many exciting times ahead Smile
  • + 4
 Well that just may be the best thing I've read in the past year. Way to go Dylan and keep leading the good life Phil!
  • + 2
 Aw shucks... thanks @Twoplanker110
  • + 1
 Great article Dylan about an ordinary person who just loves biking. It should inspire a lot of people to get out on their bikes and Kenna Cartwright Park is a great place to do it.
  • + 3
 Just moved to Kamloops. Now I hope I run into Phil on the trails this summer because he seems like a pretty cool guy.
  • - 1
 "young"? 26 years old. 46 years old. Oops, the poor old git is 66 now... we'd better switch to 66 years young. No thanks. Actually, I find it patronizing and sanctimonious. Maybe it's just me... I am 66 now, and I don't want to EVER be referred to as "66 years young" and so on, over the coming years.
  • + 2
 Darn Awesome. Thanks for that. Real MTBer / outdoorsman through and through. Taking notes. We all should.
  • + 1
 Yer most welcome @SeaLoam... Thank YOU.
  • + 3
 Props to the writer! You too Phil
  • + 2
 Great story Dylan. Nice to see some unique and interesting content on Pinkbike.
  • + 1
 Thanks @mountain-life. I'm pumped to push a little variety into the feed.
  • + 2
 camloops just seems like a righteous spot. great riding and cool people. terrific article and photos.
  • + 2
 make that kamloops btw
  • + 3
 It is the best spot that used to famous. Heading for a re-birth of sorts! Come check it out. Love to show you around.
  • + 2
 For sure! This town rocks as a MTB destination. A ton of trail networks, the Bike Ranch, great LBS, awesome brew pubs and so much more. One of my regular go-to-ride destinations and even when I'm just passing through there's always time for a lap at Pine View or the network shown in this video.
  • + 3
 Wow! What a reading!! I really enjoyed it.
  • + 2
 Did anyone else think the thumnail was a guy boosting a huge gap in the snow?
  • + 1
 Hahaha, I like where your heads at @scjeremy. But now that I've gone and looked again... I do recall that once upon time, there actually was a gap right where your thinking! Good eye mate.
  • + 1
 Two great individuals doing two of my favorite things in the wonderful city of Kamloops, Ride on Phil and Dylan.
  • + 1
 Awesome to see ya ripping still Phil!!! Great article Dylan!!! Classic Loops stoke!
  • + 1
 @THORLEY you still got 20 years left in you too then (You're a similar age to Phil aren't you?) :-)

Great story guys
  • + 2
 Can't read...not cursive enough. Razz
  • + 2
 @loopie HA! 10/10. My favorite comment ever!
  • + 1
 @dylansherrard: ...just doing my part to keep the entertainment value up around here! ...hahaha
  • + 2
 Great story, writing and photograpy Dylan! Thanks for sharing it.
  • + 1
 Aw thanks for the love @chesnuts !
  • + 3
 Hell yeah!
  • + 2
 Yeah, show this to everyone that ride an E-Bike.......
  • + 2
 Awesome life he's living, good for you Phil!
  • + 2
 This is really awesome in such a positive way Wink
  • + 1
 I'm turning 40 and thinks all is going downhill from here ... eh downhill?? works for me!
  • + 2
 wallpaper quality photos
  • + 1
 PB needs more content like this.
  • + 1
 Phil is the man we all hope to become one day.
  • + 1
 What a great read! That woodwork is incredible
  • + 1
 I needed that, thanks heaps Dylan and Phil....
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