I Never Imagined…

James Durand reflects on seven years of Swicked's Monday night ride

Almost seven years ago we opened Swicked Cycles and at the same time we started our Monday night group rides.

Running a bike shop is great, but, more importantly, we wanted to ride with the community.

The Swicked Monday night ride has become a regular outing for many mountain bikers in town, but I remember in those early years how small it was some weeks.

Many Monday nights it was just me, Chenoa and one other rider, but hey, three makes a group in my mind so we kept it going. During the winters we had a few rides where the weather was so bad that it was just me and Karl riding by ourselves, but as long as someone wanted to ride, we were there to lead the group – or rider in those cases. I have to admit there were a few times where I wondered if anyone cared, but in reality I was out riding my bike so even if no one showed up I would still have gone.

When beginners started coming out it was the best. Seeing them improve their skills and fitness every week was a great experience and very motivating.

After a season or two, the rides grew quickly and before we knew it, summer nights would bring out 30-plus riders and we had to split into four groups. We were too many for Beaver Lodge and started expanding into Woods Creek for a bit more trail variety. But then winter would hit and we’d be back to just a few of us crazy enough to battle the rain and mud.

As winter approaches this year, the weather has been worse than any year I’ve seen. Many nights my rain gear can’t even keep up. I get home after a ride and have to scrape the mud off before I can go in the garage, never mind the house. I almost expected our numbers to go from 30-plus to just me and Karl again, but our little community has surprised me in a very positive way. Not only have most of our regulars continued to ride with us, but there is a handful of beginners that started riding with us this winter.

Imagine how excited they’ll be next spring when they realize we can mountain bike in the daylight on dry trails.

Last Monday we had 21 riders out to enjoy the dark, the mud and the rain, and it’s late November in a year with record rainfall. I never imagined I would find so many wingnuts like myself.

Its pretty cool to be able to share our passion for riding, in all conditions, with so many.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…

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