2003...a year in review

Mountain Biking

TheLoneRider.com Monday November 20, 2017 EST 
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TheLoneRider

2003...a year in review

With the passing of 2003, I had to pause and get a sense of what the year has been - mountain biking and other events as well.

Mountain Bike Races
The season opened up with BikeNXS' Icebreaker - an annual winter-thaw race in Durham Forest. I'm still nursing my tailbone, which to date remains tender after wiping out on solid ice. Ice is unforgiving. A modest investment in studded tires would have been a good idea.

This year started my 11-year-old racing with me. I've waited too long for this to happen. With my other 5-year-old raring to get old enough to hammer down, it's only a matter of time before the 3 of us ride the trails together. I'm totally stoked.

With 2 daughters, I can say I'm partial to our female brethren who every now and then kick my butt on the trails. The Fly Gurlz all-women team has developed over the years and saw their official team launch this year. I feel privileged to have been invited to the event. It's not unusual to see a Fly Gurl on just about every race I did this year. I look forward to seeing more of them. Hopefully, my daughters will get to ride with them when the time comes.

2003 has seen a good number of mountain bike races that opened me up to new people and new trails. I hooked up with Alpha Racing from Bethany for its Crazy 8 race. It's Norman Rockwell on adrenaline - laid back family-centered races on a pristine farmland. I can't imagine a better scene where dad, mom and kids all hammer down on sweet single-track. In sharp contrast, there was Hardwood Hill's Canada Cup where every racer was going all-out for a podium finish - taking no prisoners. I didn't realize it was a race on a national level. I just showed up and started racing like I usually do on every club-level race. I was already missing one tooth and hurting bad by the time I bailed out. As an analogy, I would liken that race to me going up a boxing ring not knowing my opponent is Mike Tyson. Before the first round is up, I was already bent, twisted and bloodied. Oh yeah...add a missing ear to that.

The Paris-to-Ancaster race was likewise an eye opener to what mountain biking is all about - fun on a bike with a bunch of riders looking out for everyone. That's also the race where I seem to have tapped a rich reservoir of energy. I partied hard the night before. With no sleep and still feeling a bit of a hangover from too much booze, I managed to do that 60K race without feeling fatigued. I felt bigger than life that day.

Increasingly, as my bike got older (Specialized FSR 1999), every race almost meant a part breaking down - a chain, derailleur, chain rings, etc. A $50 here, another $75 there...it all adds up. I was becoming a fixture at Cyclepath. It's all-good. Fun like that has to come at a price.

Critical Mass Rides
On a more recreational/political level, I also joined a few critical mass rides snarling the streets of Toronto on the last Friday of every month in protest of motorists who relegate cyclists as 2nd class citizens of the road. It's also a celebration of cycling as a lifestyle choice. A different set of crowd on the outside, but all the same within.

Psychedelic Scenes
Always in search of answers, I wandered deeper into the alternative scene. For the 2nd consecutive year, I attended the OM Summer Solstice Festival. The experience was nothing short of magical - good vibe, good music and human connection all blended into a 3-day outdoor techno music festival in the remote hinterlands of Killaloe, a quaint town just south of Algonquin Park. It was a fix I continue to hurt for. It paved the way for me to go on and experience what perhaps is the mother of all psychedelic scenes - Burning Man.

Burning Man is a weeklong immersion into the arid desert of Nevada, 120 miles from the nearest city where art, music, human-connection, freedom of expression all came together. It left a profound personal transformation that has affected me in a fundamental way. It's hard to pinpoint what changes I've taken back with me but the headspace has definitely shifted. I would liken the experience to a tortoise leaving his shell and doesn't fit anymore when he gets back. I still have to come to terms with the changes...like water finding its own level.

People Who Need People
People have come and gone, and new ones are just around the corner waiting for a connection to happen. The journey, notwithstanding the races and festivals, remains largely about people - the esoteric, the cerebral, the bigger-than-life, and mostly the average Jane and Joe like me who have a story to tell. It's interesting to see a very eclectic façade on the outside, but deep down, the common denominator remains....all too common.

Looking Ahead
I don't have a clue to what 2004 holds but I plan to forge ahead into the unknown, ever too curious to what it may reveal. There's always the promise of something magical if not simply something just interesting waiting to be explored. This has taken me to tight and uncomfortable places at times, but staying real has done me well.

As I participate in the races and festivals of 2004, I look forward to crossing paths with familiar faces and building new bridges as well.

While I continue my search, I hope you find what you're looking for this year.

-- TheLoneRider

Next stop: 2004

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Reader Comments:

Andy Raithby (23 February 2004)
Dude, you have such a feel for the average rider, and are there still any of us left, where the joy of the ride, the feeling of exhaustion and satisfaction at the end after pushing your best, and the people we ride with is more important that the amount we spend on our bike. Keep writing, cause I'll keep reading.



Bart, Tricia and the kids (29 December 2003)
Looks like you're having a lot of fun, I'm very happy for you! I've heard about the Burning Man thing, I guess it's as wild as I though it would be. At least I can say that I know somebody who's been there. Ingat and keep in touch always.



Mark Ciana (28 December 2003)
I don't know you well, but can say that I appreciate your efforts to bring the global "us" together in something better. Keep up the enthusiasm, you make a difference. To 2004!



2003 Year in Review

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