This year marks my third completion of the Bird’s annual May long weekend tradition of Golden Triangle.
I first completed the ride in 2010 as Jon’s very new girlfriend- I stressed the entire week leading up to the weekend about the following:
1. Could I successfully complete this 330km, three national parks, twice over the continental divide, average of 3,800 ft of elevation gain daily through mountainous Alberta and BC?
2. Could I successfully connect with Jon’s family and Jon’s parents friends?
I was fairly certain that I could do the first, it was the second task that worried me to no end. It turned out to be a memorable weekend for me that first time, and I tried to execute the weekend in a similar manner I would as a Backroads leader. Talk to and learn a little bit about everyone, smile, listen.
In 2013 Hillary joined me on the ride. By this time I had successfully (or someone successfully, one could argue) “made it” into the Bird family- in fact, I had become a Bird. Hillary was eager to give touring a try and I was still recovering from my head injury and mental trauma of the epic mountain bike crash of 2012. Hillary pulled me virtually the entire ride- my fitness was low and my fear was still high. It was through her experience that I saw the triangle anew: she excitedly bubbled over every climb, every new vista and every challenge. It was a blast having her.
In 2014 I had no fear. My head injury was healed; and I’d spent the better part of eight months shredding myself on a trainer. I’d committed to riding my MTB as often as possible for 2014 (my goal is 100 outdoor rides this year) and have spent a sizeable chunk of April and May ripping around outdoors. To my delight, this was by far the easiest year I’ve had riding the triangle (lesson: fitness does matter, sigh) if not the worst weather. On day two I swallowed dirt, mud and gunk from the road as it rained steadily all day.
I spent most of the days riding solo; connecting with the group at the lunch spot or end of the day. I thought this might be lonely, but it intact provided a respite to the chaos of the last few months. I let my mind somersault with thoughts, ideas, plans, to-dos. I contemplated my business, my house, my upcoming season. I thought about my family and friends, especially my pregnant girlfriends who would have loved to tackle something like this but can’t (not now, anyway). I rejoiced in my health, both mental and physical. I rejoiced that I once again desired to ride a bike, for a long distance.
The mountain air cleared my head and helped me return to life excited.