You’ve had a bad day. Your boss was an ass, your car broke down, your in-laws are in town, you’re cranky. All you want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep for a week. You know it’s not going to solve anything, but you feel like anything else would take up the little energy you have left. What if you had an outlet, something that would allow you to get rid of all the negative energy and that makes you feel like a new person. Mike has found that. Mike needs that. It all started years ago when he was just a young man. Back then, he lived where the land is flat and the mountain biking, inexistent.
“Back home, we lived in a valley just outside Regina and we’d ride the cattle trails. With a buddy of mine, we set up a little race course there. When we started out, it would take us 45 minutes to do a lap. After a month or so, it was taking us 15-18 minutes to do a lap. I was hooked.”
From then on, all he wanted to do was ride his bike as fast as he could, but life goes on and he moved away for a while not making it easy to pursue that passion. When he moved to Hinton ten years ago, he had the firm intention to get back into it. After all, he was now living in a mountain biking destination.
“I moved here and it was straight into work. The hours were ludicrous. I couldn’t squeeze it in. Then I changed jobs and I made sure to lock down to a job that wasn’t going to run me the way they were. I wasn’t on the road constantly.”
That change was key and helped him get back on his bike. That and the enthusiasm of his neighbour who was always keen to go on a ride. That’s when he realized that biking was not only fun, it also helped him deal with the stresses of life. We all have to live through pressures, but Mike’s are of a particular nature. One of his son is living with Muscular Dystrophy and his wife has recently been diagnosed with a cancer.
“It’s a tough balance. If I don’t get out for my ride, I’m miserable. Once I get that ride in, I can go home and I’m a different person. Part of the reason why I ride is because Owen can’t. He’s never had that ability. When he was younger, he could pedal a little trike or something like that but not anymore. He’s been in a wheelchair since he was twelve. For me to sit at home on the couch and not make the choice to get out. I like that choice. He doesn’t get that. There is a bit of guilt, though. I get it done fast, get it over with as soon as I can so I can get back and hang out with them.”
Being able to come out at the other end and be a better person and feel better is awesome. For that reason and to ensure he gets a good ride every single time, Mike is also involved with the local mountain biking association. He works with the trail coordinator on the major built and is the winter coordinator in charge of Fat Biking.
“I like to get out and have a solid ride and go from point A to point B with no issues and also we want outsiders to come here and have an awesome time. If I come back and there were 6 trees down and it was muddy and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. I want the guys to go away with a good experience.”
Despite his busy work and the important family time, he finds the energy and time to be out there and ensure that a great network of trail is available to everyone. He also finds peace and solace working by himself in the wood. When his wife’s cancer was first discovered, she went away to visit family for a month. Mike stayed in town and spent all his free time building a new trail. The time alone in nature helped him cope with the events and the task kept him from running in a million directions. He considers himself so lucky to have found his escape.
“For anybody that doesn’t have something like this to fall back to, I definitely say to give it a go and see what works for you. I’ve been on a bike since I was a kid and I don’t remember having a bad day on one. Even the trail building, you get out of the house and all of a sudden, things are different.”
Have you found your happy place? What makes you smile no matter what? What gets rid of the frown on your face and the tensed muscles? Have you, just like Mike, found your Sero?