I hastily check the weather on the walk home from work. Banff: rain. Canmore: rain. Golden: partially cloudy. The weather radar? Upslope system, hitting Golden by 8 pm. It’s 5 now, we’ll have to hustle. I’m greeted inside the door of my house by a wriggling, bouncing, shaggy puppy. “Ami, want to go for a ride?” I coo to her, roughing up her fur as she excitedly entwines herself between my legs. She adamantly follows me around the house as I frantically grab riding clothes, Gore-tex, helmet, and whatever easy food is in the fridge. Hydration pack, knee pads, and then I’m out the door, leaving her staring forlornly at an empty entrance way. I skip around to the basement, flicking the dim fluorescent light on. As the light slowly warms up, you can see the faint reflection of frames and brake levers. Handlebars, saddles, and wheels come into definition. Bicycles. Bicycles assembled, bicycles disassembled, bicycle parts in bins. It smells like dust, dried pine needles, bike grease, and Stan’s NoTubes sealant. I reach for my bike – a beautiful matte black Banshee Rune with blue bits and blue rims. The hub ticks gently away as I wheel it up the stairs to the yard. I hear a car pull up in the drive – my taller-half, Kevin, is home. He hurries upstairs, and is greeting by the dejected dog with renewed excitement. I hear him clattering about the house, gather his riding gear, as I run back down and wheel his bike out. In a matter of minutes, bikes are locked into a hitch-rack, the dog has eagerly leapt into the car, and we’re on the road, racing the rain to Golden.
This is our life – Kevin, Ami, and I. We love to ride bikes. Well, Kevin and I love to ride – Ami loves chasing bicycles through the forest. We ride as much as we can, which thankfully ends up being a fair amount. Working 8-5 in proper grown-up jobs isn’t always conducive to adventures, but we seem to have made it work out quite well. Our other tripping point (or to be more bicycle appropriate, slipping point?) is that we live in an area without bike trails. That said, we are incredibly lucky to live along a fabulous corridor of adventure in the heart of the Rocky Mountains – Field, BC along the Trans-Canada Highway. (For those who always ask, yes, there is indeed a field in town, and yes, it is the *only* flat spot.) As is usual, jobs, volunteering, and driving soak up most of our hours, but the remainder seems to be filled with riding, and lots of it. We ride a couple nights per week, and most days on the weekend, of course adhering to the old adage, “no friends nor bikes on powder days.” Kevin and I seem to have found some good strategies for “just getting out there and riding.” I wanted to share some of our tips that have proven useful in keeping a strong riding mentality with a busy schedule.
We keep our mountain biking gear in one Tupperware bin. Shoes, knees pads, armour, helmets are all stored permanently there, which makes it easy to throw the bin in the car when you’re ready to go. After dirty, soggy rides, all mucky gear goes back in the bin, keeping the dirt contained to one happy bucket. It also makes it easier to just hose the whole bin and contents down after particularly messy rides.
2. Trip and trail lists
Lots of time goes into planning a ride, so front-end your season with planning and save your warm, daylight hours for riding. Creating trip and trail lists categorized by time commitment and travel distance allows you to easily pick an adventure based on your available time and go.
3. Headlamps and bike lights
Long summer evenings are the best, but fall evenings are pretty darn close. Late in the season, it’s easy to fall into the “oh please, just one more lap” pattern, which usually means we get benighted. Keeping lights in your pack to get you back to the car is usually a better option than having to careen blindly through the forest or stumble-walk back to the car. Fun tip: pick trails that descend then climb if your evening is short. That way, you’ll be climbing rather than descending in the dark, which I personally find easier.
4. Car food
Kevin and I both get acute cases of hunger. Heaven forbid it happen to us both at the same time. Hence why we *always* pack grab-able dinners. It takes a lot of work to prep good, tasty, healthy food, and we aren’t perfect in our nutritional choices some evenings. But tossing in something from each basic food group that we can munch away in the car is a good start. Typical stuff that goes in our hungry-prevention kit: turkey pepperoni, bell peppers, bananas, smoothies, jerky, tortilla chips & fresh salsa, salted nori, and emergency chocolate (for when you need those caffeine-sugar hits before a climb, plus it keep me happy and moralized). For this season, I want to explore tail-gate dinners – camp stove + one pot = hot meal after a ride. We’ll see how this goes.
5. Keeping your energy up
It can be SO HARD to get the energy after a long day of work to get out on your bike. Kevin and I both work very physically demanding jobs, and hustling out the door is sometimes the last thing I want to do when I’m dirty and tired. I try to focus on how good it will feel to be spinning fast through the trees. Kevin tries to focus on…. Ami tries to focus on squirrels (sometimes I just try to feed off of Ami’s stoke). When it really comes down to it, I find that just getting on my bike will do the trick. Once I’m on the saddle, my legs start pumping and I can chew through trail all evening. Throughout the season, it gets so much easier, too. One evening lap becomes two, becomes three, becomes “let’s do it again tomorrow.” In the end, it all comes down to riding out the low energy.
We love this riding lifestyle. We love the go-get-it attitude that it gives us. We love the tired satisfaction at the end of a day that means we did something good for our bodies and souls. It’s been wonderful fitting cycling into our lives, and seeing the rewards we get from it. It’s a new season out there, and we plan to be out as much as we humanly can – riding, spinning, chasing, and stoked – still trying to outrun those upslope weather systems.