Maybe average is really good

By James Durand

I’ve been riding since I was two years old, and riding at a fairly high level since I was in my twenties.

I don’t think I am special, but after riding so many years, on so much terrain, and chasing some really fast riders, it’s natural that you improve over time. I’d like to think after all this experience, I am above average when it comes to riding fitness and skill.

REALITY CHECK!

I just spent four days in Whistler and Squamish with a group of friends from Campbell River. We do this trip a couple of times each summer and I generally do all the guiding.

This trip, I lined up a few friends to lead some rides and show us some “locals only” trails.

Each of these three guides told me they were not very good riders, and when they rode with the locals themselves, they often got dropped off the back and had trouble on the more technical trails.

Off we went on day two to meet Chris, our first “not very good rider.” We ascended hard for 650 meters of 20+ percent climbs, finally found the top of the single track and proceeded to ride back down a Whistler black diamond trail.

It was a great trail and we all had tons of fun, but generally, being above average myself, I like to think I can descend faster than a “not very good rider.” Turns out I could keep up to Chris, but barely.

Later that day we hooked up with Brad, also admittedly slower than all his friends. He dragged us up a climb that made me want to quit riding, only to find a descent that was so rough that I had to pedal through the steepest sections just to keep my momentum.

At the end of the day, these two guys were smiling and looking like they were ready for another lap, while we were ready for a long nap.

On day four we met Jared for a quick lap of Squamish’s finest singletrack. As we started, Jared explained how he suffers on every ride with his regular crew, on the climbs and the descents, so he was happy this was our fourth day and we could take it easy.

The first trail was a fairly fresh loamy trail.

“Sweet, dirt and roots, just like home, now I’m in my element,” I thought. For a second I considered dropping in first, but something held me back.

Jared dropped in and disappeared into a steep, wet, rooty mess. I tried to hang on, but he was gone within three corners.

Again, I had an amazing day and was grateful for the local’s tour. Great friends make for great rides, but it was a bit of an eye-opener. If you ride where the best riders in the world live, average, or maybe below average, is going to have to be good enough for us mere mortals.

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

Cycling