I’m sitting on the plane, heading to Vancouver for the next round of the EWS in Whistler, and I’m a bit stumped as to what to write about from this last round. There are no words fitting enough to express my sadness after the tragic death of a fellow rider. Will was a really good rider, he knew the track, he was going fast, and he was racing. He was doing exactly what we all do pretty much every weekend, what we all do for our day jobs. We all know that mountain biking has its risks; injuries and broken bones are part of the job description, but somehow we always seem to put that word – death — out of our minds. We know the possibilities are there every time we cinch down those number plates onto our handlebars, or scribble down our emergency contact details, but we keep those thoughts tucked far away to focus on the task ahead.
Amongst all this sadness and shock emerges a great sense of pride, to belong to and be a part of such a wonderful community. We’re a small traveling family who loves riding and racing our bikes in really beautiful places. We look out for each other, we encourage each other, we laugh and cry together, we celebrate the highs and the lows, and this weekend was a great reminder of how lucky I and we are to be a part of this wonderful community. When something like this happens, it hits home hard. It puts everything into perspective, it throws the results and the points right out the window, and nothing else matters other than riding bikes and sharing moments with loved ones. It is a reminder for us to slow down, appreciate the views, stop to smell the wildflowers, take a picture, savor the moment – I know we don’t always have time to do this during the races, but make time before, after, and during if you can. Life is too short not to. Be nice to people, smile, be passionate, look at the stars, laugh, skinny dip, share, make love, and appreciate everything, because life works in a funny old way and we never know when our turn will come around. Lucky for us, we’re living a life that we love, we’re following our dreams and we get to share this with our mates. How freaking cool is that?
Crested Butte is a special place; I will remember it for its never-ending fast and flowy singletrack, the stunning aspen groves, and the wildflowers that were just mind blowing. The place has character, it has soul, amazing pizza, tamales, and so many cute cottages. Oh, and it had no air, but that’s a whole other topic that I struggled with last week. The tracks were beautiful, they were physically hard to race, but that just makes us stronger, right? I don’t think this round will end up counting towards the overall series, and it doesn’t matter. Who cares? What matters is that we got to travel to a really amazing place to ride our bikes and to experience another culture. I’m happy that we’re just moving straight into the next round, as what happened this weekend hasn’t really had time to sink in. Or has it? Will this affect me more than I think it will? I don’t know, we’re all so good at compartmentalizing things instead of dealing with them. But the tears that keep streaming down my cheeks when I think about Will may be an indicator that it has had a huge effect on me.
Right now, I just want to get back on my bike, go for a pedal, and feel the wind in my face.
Rest in peace Will. May you find that never-ending singletrack trail out there and rip it up.