A therapist once asked me why I like riding so much. My quick, well rehearsed but frankly, half thought out, response to her was something contrived about the freedom and simplicity that a bike offers.
“Freedom from what?” was her immediate reaction.
Ok, yes she is supposed to ask that, but still, good question. Freedom from what? At that time I had a great career, I owned a home on a beautiful piece of land, I was married and had two amazing dogs that truly defined mans best friend. Isn’t that the American dream? er, North American dream?
Well, maybe in America that is enough to satisfy a generation, but not this Canadian.
Her question bounced around in my head and ate at me for weeks like a cut on the index finger of my left hand (I’m a south paw) that won’t heal because I can’t avoid using it. Only after a impulsive and hot solo hike followed by a toasty sun baked nap high above the Athabasca river near Jasper did the answer come to me.
It was while sitting in this grassy alpine meadow, (^ this one right here actually), having just woke up, with the sun warming the rocks under my bare feet and a warm breeze carrying the scent of pine trees and moss that I was filled with a powerful realization that this, right here, is exactly what freedom feels like. This is what man was created to be. Simple, free, sweaty.
This year, 2017, I am starting a journey to simplify and free myself from the constraints of bills, mortgages, taxes, deadlines, bosses, and worst of all, apprentices. I have partnered with local photographer, mountain biker, coffee sipper and all round shredder, Shane Wiebe. With Shane’s camera and my keyboard we will set out using our bicycles as tools and my dog as a guide in an attempt to connect with and capture what makes this country the greatest, grandest and most beautiful; the Mountains and those who dwell in them.
This blog is intended as a means to inspire, inform, and hopefully entertain you with pictures and a primal grasp of the english language as we explore singletrack, bike parks, unmarked trails and the endless pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee. At the end of it all we will know we have succeeded when you, the reader, make the choice to put down the remote, grab a coffee, and start your own adventure. Even if that means just saying hello to the cute girl at the coffee shop who you’ve been trying to impress by ordering americanos for the last 3 years even though you still aren’t sure if its pronounced espresso or xpresso. Don’t worry, I’m human too (but please stop using the word xpresso, unless you’re referring to road pedals).
In the coming weeks and months I will share everything I’ve learned in the last 28 years about bicycles, camping, coffee, beer, and of course, the real complex secrets of the universe, like, why is the sky blue? How to succeed as a husband. Who invented the nail clipper? How to fail as a husband, and most importantly, how to maintain friendships with up to 3 people at one time.
So. It is winter (damn). But I still have plenty to prepare before I give the proverbial middle finger to society and throw away everything good I had going for me. For now I invite you to join me in this journey by reading our blogs, find us on instagram @followtheshred and @shanewiebephoto or simply crack open a beer in solidarity as I re-think my life choices, pack up my bike, my dog and my coffee grinder and get ready to explore the most majestic and awe inspiring lumps of dirt in the world.
Words and iPhone photos by Tim Friesen