The only retiring Swicked Cycles owner James Durand expects he'll do is retiring customers' bikes. Photo submitted

I’ve never ridden so slow, and been so nervous

By James Durand

I like all kinds of riding, and I truly enjoy earning my turns with a big brutal climb, but I have to admit, getting dropped off a chairlift at the top of a mountain full of steep DH trails over and over and over again, makes for a pretty awesome day.

I don’t typically get nervous before a ride, it’s become second nature after so many years, but plan a big day of DH in the bike park and the butterflies kick in pretty hard.

At the DH park, we’re always pushing the limits a bit, and thinking about it a few hours before the ride makes me nervous every time. The challenge of long jumps, big drops, and always pushing my speeds scares me bit, which keeps the nerves hopping right up until that first lap when adrenalin takes over and all the fun begins. I hate the nerves, but the riding more than makes up for it.

Over the last six months, I’ve been contemplating taking my kids to Mount Washington’s bike park and introducing them to full blast DH, but:

Rhyley has been nervous about the mountain ever since she saw me hit some jumps last year. No matter how much I explain that there are easy trails too, she was not buying into it.

Regan, my four-year-old, is super keen to go (No experience, no fear I guess), but I’ve been worried I might throw him in the deep end too early and scare him off.

So with all this, I’ve been hesitant to push them. Every week all summer, I planned to take them, but then second-guessed myself and stayed home on local trails.

Then last week, a buddy invited me up to join him and his kids, and I thought a group of their friends might make this easier, so off we went.

As soon as I committed to taking Rhyley and Regan up the hill, my nerves were instantly worse than any other ride I’ve done.

But we were committed, so I had to put on a brave face, act as calm as ever, and cruise up the hill like it was any other day of riding. I felt like I was going to puke.

We arrived and got everyone armoured up, grabbed our passes, and jumped on the chair lift. Considering I was in full herding mode and riding only the easiest of trails, you’d think I would be calm. NOPE.

Every time Rhyley or Regan approached a rock, root, or steep section, I clenched so hard I could have turned coal into diamonds.

After one lap, I realized everyone was smiling but me. The kids had forgotten all their nerves as soon as we started down, just like I normally do. Their confidence had increased and without hesitation, both kids aimed straight for the chair lift and lap #2.

I was still nervous and I didn’t relax until Rhyley almost crashed and I heard her laughing about it, and shortly after that Regan yelled out, “Let’s do 100 more laps Dad.”

We ended up doing four great laps, had some crashes, and even caught some accidental air. I think Chenoa and the kids all pushed their limits a bit and rode pretty hard. I snuck in one extra lap on my own and truly relaxed then. (adrenalin does wonders)

Apparently I’d been overthinking it all summer, because Chenoa, Rhyley, and Regan all decided we need season’s passes next summer.

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

Campbell RiverCycling