Category Archives: Mountain Biking

Somewhere waiting for you. Go!

We’re so stupidly blessed here. Really, it’s silly. This absolute abundance of riches, summer and winter. I used to spend my years saving up the time and money for a brief week or two’s access to the place I’ve been lucky enough to call home for a decade.

The North Shore alone has enough bike trails to keep any serious biker happy for a lifetime. But there’s so much more that it’s almost criminal not to go out and explore. This summer, with a new bike raring to go, that was one of my goals. And so explore we did.

Galbraith

Galbraith, Washington. Incredibly fun trails that were the perfect mix of fun, flowy, jumpy and technical. Favourites: Atomic Dog, U-Line, SST.

Cat Lake views

Section 57 bridge

Section 57 switchbacks

Cat Lake. Section 57 is my new favourite trail, one of the most diverse I’ve ever ridden both for the riding and the landscape. Steep switchbacks, lush microvalleys, small jumps, fast rolling terrain, steep descents, log rides and bridges – it has absolutely everything.

Lorax trailhead

Bear Mountain on a baking day. Lorax was clearly cut from the same incredibly fun cloth as Asian Adonis; Super Bear was a Half Nelson-style joyride through the woods.

Riding the Sunshine CoastSprockids woodworkSprockids, on the day when for no reason at all I decided to change direction, put my bike on a ferry, and go ride on the Sunshine Coast for a while. Excellent flowy fun lower down the mountain transitioned to very steep technical riding on the upper trails, along with a godawful push up an abandoned skidder road to reach the top of Mount Elphinstone. There was probably a better way, but it made me happy regardless.

Hartland

Vancouver Island’s Hartland in the pouring, pouring rain.

Ah, this place we live in. It’s the best.

Full body armour

I do most of my mountain biking with people who are far, far better than me. This means I’m continually pushing myself, but generally feel pretty inadequate when it comes to my own abilities. I’m too much of a weekend warrior, at least these days, to be able to put the time into closing the gap. Mostly I just try to be grateful that my riding buddies are patient types who don’t mind waiting when I have to take the long route around a gnarly descent or crazy stunt.

This summer, though, I started to become more aware of my own progress over the past couple of years. Trails – admittedly not the most difficult trails – that had once seemed hard had definitely become easier, and I’d begun cleaning sections that I’d previously had to walk. The Banshee stepped my game up a notch, proving that it is to some degree about the bike.

Nonetheless, when my riding buddy J proposed we ride CBC, I was unsure. I am not even close to being a double black rider; I’m only just getting comfortable on (easier) blacks, and still fall off skinnies and woodwork with tiresome regularity. CBC? Really? But there was also a lure of adventure and challenge that I couldn’t resist, and so on a bright sunny morning I found myself at the trailhead in body armour and a full face helmet, ready (or not) for the spills to come.

CBC skinnyish woodworkThe night before, I’d dreamed my way through strange realms on the bike: shadowy fantasylands filled with ghosts and caverns, a dark Narnia that I’d find myself revisiting in my sleep before every big bike challenge over the summer. I’ve grown to love it, because it means that the day ahead is about going far out of my comfort zone and into wild new territory.

CBC started off surprisingly reasonably, with armoured berms leading into awkward rocky descents and drops. J and I took one section at a time, pausing when we needed to. He was the best person I could have asked to tackle my first double black with: patient, analytical, and confident without being fearless. Watching him break the trickier lines down step-by-step was helpful for me when I reached spots where I initially balked.

James on CBC

To my surprise, I ended up riding about 90% of the trail. I skipped a couple of the crazier drops and ladders, but got more and more comfortable on the janky rocks and woodwork that made up much of the route. J blew my mind by taking one look at the mad rollercoaster leading to the Millenium Log and riding it clean on his first attempt. I was actually sorry when the trail ended and we spilled out onto Pinch Flat Alley, where we rattled down over the loose rocks and back into sunshine on Cypress Bowl Road.

CBC woodwork

I had fully expected to walk most of CBC, especially after a series of bad choices on my first visit to Cypress a week before that had resulted in my ass being thoroughly handed to me on an eroded skidmark of a black trail. Being able to ride so much of it, albeit a bit slowly and awkwardly, was a huge confidence booster. It was also great watching J push his own limits on some of the sections; his technical riding is infinitely far ahead of mine, and he’d go on to bigger and better things almost immediately, but the trail had plenty to challenge us both.

Northern light

At the end of June I packed up my bike, flew to Whitehorse, and prepared to ride my first 24 hour mountain bike race under the midnight sun. The 24 Hours of Light is something I’ve been talking about for years; plans to ride with friends in 2014 fell through at the last minute. In 2015 I was there as a solo rider, ready for whatever the race might bring.

The first night was the captain’s briefing. I checked into a plain but clean and friendly motel in the centre of Whitehorse, reassembled my bike without too much difficulty, and then rode over to the Beringia Centre. We drank beer and ate pizza amid the mammoth skeletons, were given free pairs of giant souvenir underpants, and learned that laps ridden naked between 10pm and 6am counted double.  I left the centre at 10pm with my sunglasses still on, and went for a little detour through hoodoos, sandy singletrack and meadows full of wildflowers high above the city. It seemed strange to arrive back at the motel in full light, knowing that it was time to sleep in order to be ready for the 24 hours ahead.

10pm in the Yukon

I arrived a couple of hours ahead of the noon start the next morning, with plenty of time to set up my very minimalist campsite in the quiet camping zone (I wasn’t really planning on sleeping, so I had just bought a thermarest and a down jacket), lay out my food and water supplies, and chat to some of the other racers. It was a beautiful morning, with a light breeze shaking the trees and sunlight filtering between scattered clouds. As more people arrived the start area began to develop a carnival atmosphere, with swing bike races and a kids’ mini-course and crowds of family and friends gathering at the edge of the meadow.

Noon rolled around very quickly, and we parked our bikes by the fence and lined up in the starting corral on foot. When the countdown finally began we raced around the meadow in a Le-Mans style running start before grabbing our bikes, leaping on, and pedaling across the line.

24HoL  start line

It’s hard to describe the feeling of riding away down the doubletrack: full of energy and excitement, so eager to see the course ahead, and yet completely calm. For the next 24 hours, I had one task: to ride my bike. The world felt suddenly distilled and simple. It was an entirely different experience to setting out on a road race, where time and speed are of the essence. This was uncomplicated, unhurried, clear and beautiful.

The course was amazing. Just over 12km in length, it began with rooty, gently sloping singletrack through sunlit trees with trunks of ash and silver that eventually took us to a steep, switchbacking climb that led out onto a narrow bench with incredible views across the valley to the distant mountains on the other side. A steep, sandy descent on the far side quickly dumped the elevation in a grinning rush before leveling out into more beautiful singletrack through groves of spruce, with the odd tumbledown hut among the trees. The final stretch back to the start was wider, flatter, and very rooty.

24HoL course

I could have ridden those trails forever and never grown tired of them. Even at the very end, many many hours and pedal strokes later with sandpaper eyes and exhausted legs, it wasn’t hard to go out for a final lap because it was one more chance to ride the course before the clock ran down and I left the wild open landscapes of the north behind.

Early on, though, I rode in a haze of wonder that after all of the time and all of the imagining, the dream was finally real. The riders – around 200 in all – quickly spread out, with the team riders racing ahead while I reminded myself that there was a long way still to go and no-one to step in for me when I tired. I set an easy, steady pace, with plenty of time to take in the beautiful surroundings. I rode for a half-lap with a new friend from Whitehorse, then she stopped for a break and I fell back into the silence of the forest.

The bench, 24HoL course

Aside from brief pit stops to eat and refill my water, I kept going steadily for the first few laps. Then the race organizers fired up the barbecue, and the promise of something more tasty than granola bars lured me away from the course for a while. My legs had lost some of their early spring and I was bitterly regretting the fact that in my hasty departure I’d forgotten to switch up the rock hard seat that came on the Spitfire for something more comfortable, but after two very welcome smokies and a longer break I was ready to roll again.

As evening wore into night the light in the woods seemed suspended in some magical, golden state. In spite of the kilometres already behind me I felt like I could have kept riding in that light forever; it was as though time no longer existed, and it was just me and the bike and the trees and the singletrack winding ahead. All there had been, and all there would be. The climbs were getting harder, but were never so long that the promise of the views on the bench and the wild, laughing descent ahead wasn’t enough to keep my legs moving.

Naked tandem at 24HoL

As midnight neared the sky was still light but the sun had dipped below the trees, and the air was cooling rapidly. A fire was blazing in a pit near the start line and as I warmed my hands over it between laps, one of my new friends passed me a beer. Down on the course two naked riders set off on a tandem to cheers and hollers from the campground. One of my goals for the race was to ride a midnight lap, and I set out again as the countdown clock neared the halfway mark. The woods were darker now, and I was glad that I’d had twelve hours to get to know the course. A chill had sunk into the air and in spite of my tired legs I was glad to reach the climb, where I warmed up considerably.

Riding out onto the bench above the valley at midnight was one of the most incredible moments of the 24 hours. The sun was suspended on the horizon at the very end of the bench, a ball of red and gold beneath a darkening sky. I rode directly toward it through swirls of dust that riders ahead had left dancing and glowing in their wake. I didn’t realise that I was holding my breath until I finally swung away from the fiery sky and dropped back into the trees. It was more stunning than anything I could have dreamed.

Early hours at the 24HoL campground

I rode on for a while, then stopped for a quick catnap. The kindness of the strangers who had become friends had made my minimal campsite far more appealing; they’d added a down wrap and a comfy chair while I was out on the course. I hadn’t intended to sleep, just to take a longer break to let my legs recharge, but the down wrap was warm and cozy and my eyes drifted closed for a while. Opening them to find myself lying beneath shadowy trees and a twilight sky on the side of a mountain in the Yukon was strange and surreal. A deep chill had set in, but the lower reaches of the sky were glowing gently with the promise of a beautiful day to come.

In spite of the recharging effects of the catnap, my legs were feeling the hours and the distance. My remaining laps were much slower, with refueling stops for coffee in between and naked riders flying by me on the climbs in brief, surreal glimpses. Gradually the woods filled with light and warmth as the sun rose higher, and the start area started to bustle with people emerging from RVs and tents.

Dawn on the bench, 24HoL

On what I knew would be my final lap, I took my time and tried to soak it all in: the trees, the singletrack, the swooping rush of the Midtown Boogaloo compression, the valley soaking in the morning sunlight from the bench, and the laughter of the descent on the far side. Then a slow, slow pedal through the spruce groves, brief doubletrack, and high fives and hugs at the finish line. I chatted to other riders for a while then suddenly realised that my dust-caked legs were no longer willing to hold me upright, so I found a chair and slumped gratefully into it as the clock finally ran down to zero.

Someone handed me another beer, and I donated my remaining water supplies to the local bike club. My new Whitehorse friends performed one last act of kindness and arranged a ride back to town for me when I mentioned that I’d been planning to call another cab. But first, there was one final surprise left in an event that had been full of so many: I had placed second in the solo women’s category.

Solo women prizewinners, 24HoL

By the time I made it back to my motel the exhaustion had kicked in, but I was also starving hungry and caked in dust. I showered an impressive amount of dirt away, decamped to the motel restaurant where I devoured a burger the size of a rugby ball and a plate of fries that would have fed a small army, and then retired to my room where I passed out cold for the next few hours.

I knew that a 24 hour mountain bike race – especially one ridden under the midnight sun – was going to be one of the most memorable experiences I’d ever had on my bike. It exceeded my expectations beyond measure. The warmth and friendliness of everyone I met, the incredibly beautiful course, the strange and ever-changing northern light, the surreality of being passed in the night by riders wearing nothing but a helmet, bike shoes, and butterfly wings – it was everything I’d hoped and far more. As Robert Service said, there are strange things done in the midnight sun, especially at the 24 Hours of Light.

24 Hours of Light Tom_Patrick_Yukon_News

Photo credit to Tom Patrick of the Yukon News, who also provided a great write-up of the event.

Enter the Banshee

Some other things happened after last ski season ground to its miserable end, with changes on the work front that meant I have a lot less free time as I focus on learning and growing in other areas for a while. That’s okay; sometimes the unexpected opportunities that come calling make finding a compromise worthwhile.

So, how did the summer pan out? Well, when you don’t have as much time, you focus a lot more on making the most of the time you have. With that in mind, one of the things I realised early on was that it was time for a new bike. It wasn’t that I fell out of love with the Instinct, but my riding focus shifted quite noticeably away from the all-day adventure rides and into rapid-fire climbs and descents, with downhill skill-building the biggest challenge.

Banshee detail

I did my research (always a librarian at heart) and settled on a bike that’s way out of my league, but that will serve me well for years and years to come: a Banshee Spitfire. My bike stable has been pretty Rocky-centric over the past few years (with a brief Cannondale intrusion) but it felt like time to move to something new. And I really liked the idea of supporting a North Shore company, with bikes that were made for riding here.

Banshee - Born on the Shore

It wasn’t easy. The production run of small frames was short this year, and I tried every supplier in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler without luck. Finally Cap’s in Richmond said they were able to get hold of a single raw frame, and I slapped a deposit on it as fast as I could. The shop staff convinced me to upgrade the suspension to the CC DB Inline shock, which hadn’t been on my radar – I’ve had no issues with the Float previously – but I figured since I was (for once) forking out for a brand-new bike, I might as well go all in. The final build looked lean, mean, and ready for anything.

Banshee - CC DB Inline shock

It’s important to start as you mean to go on, so I loaded the bike onto the car and headed for Half Nelson. It was unsurprisingly somewhat weightier than the Instinct on the climb, but the 1 x 11 drivechain didn’t make as much of a difference as I’d expected. Then I pointed the nose downhill, and set off on the best joyride of them all.

The bike was brand-new. I hadn’t dialed the suspension in, or adjusted to the very different geometry. On that first run I dropped two minutes from my usual Half Nelson time, and was in the air so much I wasn’t sure whether I was riding or flying. The DB shock was soft as butter, and the more compact, slacker geometry sent me dipping in and out of corners and riding high on the berms with shocking ease.

Spitfire in the woods

When you don’t have as much time, you make the most of the time you have. Suddenly the summer seemed full of a whole new kind of promise.

Keep on keeping on

It’s mid-November. The snow should be falling. I should be waxing bases, checking avvy bulletins, getting ready for the first turns of the winter. Instead a very warm, wet spell has been followed by a very cold, dry spell, and the turns I’m waiting for are only happening in my dreams. So for now, I’ll keep taking my bike out to wild, beautiful places that help me forget, at least for a while, that I’m not skiing.

Blindside

This weekend, it was finally time to explore the Garibaldi Lava Flow . I didn’t have any particular plan in mind; I just rode out to the place where the trails started, and then followed everything I came across that looked like fun. It was a stellar day: bright and clear but freezing cold, with a heavy layer of frost lying everywhere the sun hadn’t touched.

Frosty STP

I alternated between riding and pushing up the switchbacks on Blindside, then rolled through beautiful loamy forest and out onto a plateau with open views to the Mamquam Icefield. I let go of the brakes and clattered down to the Powerhouse Plunge, flying off rocks and leaping over waterbars. I rode the strange frozen loam of the Cookhouse Connector to the Ring Creek Rip, where the final descent disappeared in a blink of an eye.

Cookhouse Connector

Every now and then I’d break out onto ridgelines where the views took my breath away. I can never decide: is it more about the riding, the sheer crazy rollercoastering thrill of it, or is it more about the strange and beautiful places it takes me to? Probably both, in the end.

Garibaldi Lava Flow trailsI’m missing the winter, missing the snow. It’s overdue now. But until it arrives, I’ll keep on keeping on.

Deep in the heart of nowhere

The places I love the most are the places where I feel lost in the vastness of the world, where there are no people to break the silence and there’s nothing around me but wildness and space. The new and unknown.

Habrich

With a rare Tuesday day off in hand this week, I set out with a loose plan to ride the 9 Mile/Ring Creek Rip route. After unknowingly taking a wrong turn straight out of the parking lot, I found myself on an incredibly steep, incredibly sustained climb that took me behind Habrich and Sky Pilot and out into some of the most wild, beautiful territory I’ve ridden on a bike.

I saw a few ATVs and dirt bikers early on the trail, but as I rode further out the road became more and more desolate until I passed a few hunters in camouflage gear and then, no-one. For a while Habrich towered to my right, then Sky Pilot, and then they fell away behind me as the distant blue mountains of Indian Arm appeared ahead.

Further out on Indian River Road

At some point the nagging feeling that I was on the wrong road became a certainty. Still I kept onward, more interested in the unknown territory ahead than where I maybe should have been. At one washed out corner a creek tumbled across the road, and I splashed through it and then plunged steeply downwards through more small water crossings, down a rollercoaster of a rock garden, and finally to a bridge where I paused and realised that the sun was starting to sink ominously close to the distant peaks and the air was growing colder.

I hammered back up as fast as I could, suddenly very aware that I had less than an hour of daylight left and had no idea – literally none at all – where I was. Nor did anyone else. As I paused for breath at the top of the climb I saw the first person for miles, a mineral prospector who asked if he could take my picture because “I’ve never seen a woman out here on a mountain bike before” and told me neat stories about the geologic history of the valley.

Looking back, Indian River Road

And then, an absolute screamer of a descent back down all those vertical metres of endless, lung-searing climbing. Concerns about the fading daylight disappeared; I was back at the car twenty minutes later, the kilometres vanishing beneath my tires. Rocketing down the bone-shaking sections of loose rock, the bike skidding and leaping beneath me and yet somehow arriving upright on the other side.

This was not at all the ride that I intended, but it’s exactly the kind of day I had in mind when I bought this bike.

Full Nelson

This was the summer of Half Nelson, the wild, grinning joyride through the trees that makes every other trail pale in comparison. And what better way to head into fall than with a few laps on the legacy climb, followed by a first visit to Half Nelson’s big brother?

Full Nelson

Full Nelson was everything I expected. Steeper berms, tighter turns, bigger jumps. Soaring, swooping fun from beginning to end. I wrapped up the day with a run down Pseudotsuga 1 and 2, climb back to Tinder, and then a final jello-legged descent on Pseudotsuga 3. I hadn’t realised that Tinder was a connector, so my poor weary quads – 1,700 vertical metres into the afternoon – weren’t prepared to deal with any more climbing at that point. It didn’t matter. It was glorious.

Tinder

Summer is well and truly over now, and the steady rain that soaked my final lap was a reminder that before long the temperature will be dropping, the storms will be rolling in, and the long wait for ski season will be over. Until it gets here, I’m just going to keep on riding.

Light years

Ring Creek/MashiterIt feels like summer is drawing to a close, even though there’s still warmth in the midday sun and the skies are clear and blue. All of September’s anniversaries are rolling around, making me remember that I wasn’t always as lucky as this, that the days used to be duller and greyer and I did too. There have been too many reminders lately that life is short, that there will never be time enough to do it all.

Squamish lightAnd so in these golden days at the end of summer I go out into the beautiful places with my bike, looking for light, looking for speed, always trying to go higher and faster and further out. Seeing how far above it all or how deep into the wilderness I can pedal; finding descents so fast and flowing that everything disappears into a wild, grinning joyride and there’s nothing else to think about, at least for a little while.

Grouse on a bike

Activity balance

Everything has been about ski season for me in recent years. Summer was a fun distraction, pleasant conditions in which to pass the time while waiting for the snow to fly. Toward the end the wait would become unbearable, an endless ticking of the clock as the seasons continued their slow march toward winter.

This year, it hasn’t been like that. It’s been an absolute joyride of a summer, packed full of smiles and adrenaline and unadulterated delight. I still can’t wait for the snow to fly, but I’m also fine with passing the time until it’s ready. It’s all been about the transition from road biking to mountain biking.

The problem, for me, is that road riding was at a place where the rewards I was looking for just weren’t there anymore. I’ve never been interested in being the fastest rider in a pack, or being able to slot smoothly into a peloton. I’m built for endurance, not speed, so chasing top times is always going to be an exercise in frustration. I ride a bike to see beautiful places, not to stare at the butt of the person in front of me in a paceline. Which left me with distance as the goal and that was fine for a while, until it wasn’t.

I’d reached a point where I was very comfortable picking a pace where I could ride 200km+ in a day, and ride long distances multiple days in a row. After that, it stopped being about as much about fitness and became about managing the discomfort of being on a road bike for the length of time required to go further. And that kind of challenge doesn’t excite me. I know that I’m perfectly capable of enduring discomfort; for me, the important thing is challenging myself in ways where I can’t be confident or sure that I will succeed.

And this is where mountain biking is so ridiculously perfect. I’m a terrible mountain biker. This has been my first really sustained season after three years of very patchy riding, and yet I’m still a very solid begintermediate (except on jumps, which feel like the most natural thing in the world.) Especially around here, where there’s really no such thing as easy riding, every single trail is a challenge. And on every one I’m totally engaged, thrilled, grinning like a maniac even when I’m so terrified of what I’m in the middle of doing that it’s hard to breathe.

Finally I have something to do in the summer that fuels whatever need it is I have that only skiing’s ever filled before. And now everything is perfect. I’m still yearning for snow, still missing that monochromatic world where the cover of white changes everything and you can breathe it in and fly, fly, fly over the surface of the earth. But while I wait, I’m happy. Because I’ve started to fly on a bike, too.

Bike park shadows

Road trip, bike trip

Somehow we’re already into the dog days of summer. Darkness is falling faster in the evenings, and there’s a whisper of coolness in the air that is just beginning to hint at the promise of winter to come. So this weekend we packed up the car, picked up our friends R and C, and headed to Sun Peaks for an extended break from everything.

It was a wonderful trip, even though the weather forgot that it still had a few days of summer left and turned abruptly grey and cold. We visited mountain lakes, saw hundreds of tiny frogs, lay in a hot tub and watched shooting stars fall, wandered through wildflowers in alpine meadows, took a late night walk into the deepest darkness we could find to see the Milky Way, and recited Shakespeare and Yeats back and forth on wilderness trails to keep the bears at bay.

McGillivray Lake

And then, of course, there was the riding.

On the first evening I didn’t have much time before dark, so I headed onto the XC trails for a rapid climb up Blue Grouse and En Garde, through the trees and past clearcuts and into a blackened zone where lightning had struck and burned. At the top I paused for a moment to soak it all in, this new place. Traces of music carried up on the breeze from the village, and the last rays of light flared through a scatter of clouds behind the mountains. The rip back down on steep doubletrack was fast and fun and very muddy.

En Garde, Sun Peaks

This was enough to get me pretty excited for a longer ride on day two. This time I took the Pack Horse trail all the way to the top of Mount Morrissey, a nice sustained climb that zigzagged back and forth across the ski runs. I reached the summit under gathering clouds, and stopped to watch the views disappear into grey before heading down Holy Cow. This was where I saw my first bear, lumbering slowly across the far side of a meadow before disappearing into the trees.

After exploring the far side of the mountain for a bit I worked my way back to a trail that I later learned was aptly named Bruin Romp. Loamy and fun, it twisted down through the trees and I was having a blast until I suddenly came upon a second bear: very large, very brown, and very close. I could see a cub just a little way into the forest, almost hidden in the undergrowth. Both were focused on their meals and weren’t paying a lot of attention to me, so I made a split-second decision to let momentum carry me past. I figured that if I did attract their attention, at least I’d be moving rapidly downhill instead of pedaling frantically back up the steep trail.

Bruin Romp, Mount Morrissey

I flew by the mother bear and on downwards, brakes forgotten, whipping through the trees and bouncing off the odd branch and yelling as loudly as I could in case she’d decided to follow me or anyone else was waiting on the trail ahead. The trail was just forgiving enough to let me get away with the speed, right on the edge of control, grinning like a maniac from the rush of the ride in spite of my hammering heart. I eventually popped back out onto Pack Horse and ripped back down to the trailhead, adrenaline still pounding.

After I showed back up at the house covered in mud and ranting about bears there was a collective decision (by everyone else) that I shouldn’t go back out on the XC trails. Fortunately there was an excellent solution to this problem: the Sun Peaks bike park!

Sun Peaks Biker-X

My first two runs were in pouring rain, which didn’t make for ideal conditions to get to know new trails (especially not on a 29er; not anticipating the bike park, I hadn’t brought the Flatline with me). I went for some epic slides on Barn Burner, which was steeper and more technical than I was expecting from the trail description. By the time the rain stopped en route to the third run I was head to toe mud, lucky to be in one piece, and it was no longer possible to tell what colour my bike had originally been.

Fortunately the clearing skies led to that most ideal of situations: hero dirt. The next three runs were fantastic, hopping off hits between the brake bumps on Ain’t No Scrubs and rocketing down the singletrack and flowy, curvy turns of Route 66. I finished each run on the bikercross course, leaping over tables and riding high on the sides of huge berms. (“Are you serious?” said a horrified C when she saw a rider hitting the bikercross jumps earlier in the day.) On my final run a young fox popped out to say hello and hung out beside me for a little while, completely unperturbed by my presence.

Sun Peaks bike park fox

I wrapped up the last corners with a grin a mile wide, then hosed down the bike and pedaled off to meet J and C for the summer’s end Elliott Brood concert. Sitting at a patio with a beer in hand and Northern Air playing was the perfect end to the day. (Not that it was really the end; there was still a BBQ rib dinner, French 75s and a hot tub to come.)

Apres bike and Elliott Brood

The biking was actually a pretty small part of the trip compared to all the other fun we had, but having the opportunity to explore some new territory made me exceptionally happy. Next week it will be ten years since the day I turned my back on my entire adult life, got on a plane, and flew toward a completely unknown future. If I’d made a different choice back then I would never had the opportunity to see these things, to be in these places, to have built a life with J and have wonderful people like C and R among my friends. This is why I’m always willing to take the risks, even when they seem ridiculous. Because the biggest risk I ever took was the best thing I ever did, and the rewards have been beyond imagining.

Falls Lake