Where do you draw the line?

By James Durand

I like extreme sports. Not that I’m very extreme, but it’s all relative and I like to push my limits.

I’ve been like this my entire life and as I get older, way older, I wonder where and when I should change my approach.

It’s not just dangerous, or technical riding I’m talking about, but endurance as well.

During my first BC Bike race, on day five, my ankle swelled up like a balloon. It was worrisome to say the least, but I felt I could ride through the pain to accomplish my goal. I finished the last two days and another day or two after that, my ankle recovered and I’ve never had an issue since. Apparently it was no big deal, and it was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Well worth the pain.

Ten years later, my buddy Ken decided we should ride the entire length of Vancouver Island in two days – 525 km and more climbing than I care to remember.

After day one, my achilles tendon was killing me and I could barely walk. But, with half the goal accomplished I didn’t have it in me to quit, mind over matter, also known as stubbornness, prevailed.

We finished the ride and felt very accomplished, but many years later my achilles still bothers me periodically. Nothing bad, but it’s there. I’m not sure if it was worth it, although if I could have seen the future back then, I know I would have made the same decision. (red headed stubbornness)

Last week me and and few buddies headed for four days of riding in Whistler. On day two we chose a super technical trail called “The Green Monster.” It’s comprised of multiple rock slabs that are steep, long, and a little scary.

As we arrived at the trail head, we realized it was damp and probably not the safest conditions, then we proceeded.

We came to the first feature and I rode it blind, with no issue. Then Ken came through and … well, let’s just say he had an issue. Fifteen minutes later he’d picked himself up, assessed his bike for damage, and made sure no bones were sticking out. We continued on.

On slab number two, we decided to have a look at it first. This disrupted our flow and changed the ride. In my head I knew I should ride around and regain my flow for the next feature, but life without risk has very little reward, so I hit it.

Fifteen minutes later after picking myself up off the ground, fixing my bike, and taping my swolen pinky finger to it’s neighbour, we headed for home base.

Turns out I broke a finger.

So, where do we draw the line? When does the risk outweigh the benefit?

At this point, while I’m trying to type with a huge splint on my hand, you’d think I would be looking back and wishing I’d taken the ride around, but sadly, instead, I’m dreaming of my next attempt of “The Green Monster.”

In dry conditions of course, I’m not an idiot.

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