The Fountain of Youth

By James Durand

As you may have read in my column over the winter, this is the year where I take it easy.

I have no big races planned, I have no epic rides on the calendar, and I have decided to make it all about fun instead of training and fitness.

So far it has gone well, but only because I have been too busy and riding has been bumped down the priority list. Since I can’t seem to find my fitness, or any spare time, it has been easy to just settle for short rides on my favourite trails.

Then three weeks ago, we started our youth club and once a week I ride with 10 little rippers. I forgot what it was like to be a 12-year-old riding a bike.

It can be raining sideways with the trails full of mud and these kids are still smiling the entire time. Hill climbs, down hill, XC it just doesn’t matter, they’re riding bikes, so they’re having fun.

But, as much fun as we’re having, I still have a job to do with these kids.

We teach the group one skill each week, we show them good general riding technique, and instil proper trail etiquette. It can be stressful trying to keep things organized and let loose at the same time, but we’re managing so far.

I think the kids are improving already and its great to see their attitudes being so positive, but more importantly, I think their lack of order and willingness to put fun ahead of my agenda is rubbing off on me.

The kids seemed to have set some of their own rules early on. Riding around a puddle is out of the question, wheelies at every opportunity seem to be mandatory, and if we find something that even resembles a jump, it’s an automatic 10-minute launch session.

Distance, speed and fitness level have never even been mentioned.

So far this year’s goal has been a bit of a struggle for me. My inner competitor wants to go hard and improve every ride, despite just riding for fun.

Now all of a sudden I find myself riding slower, but hitting more jumps. I’ll happily take the long way around if I can find a fun downhill trail, and this morning I tried to wheelie the whole ride to school with Rhyley.

I didn’t make it and we got there a bit late, but Rhyley thought it was hilarious and I had a ton of fun.

It’s great to be a kid again.

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