James Durand

The tour guide

As you may already know, if you read my blurbs, we do a few group rides each week at Swicked Cycles.

  • May. 17, 2018 12:00 a.m.

As you may already know, if you read my blurbs, we do a few group rides each week at Swicked Cycles.

We’ve been doing them for almost nine years and the turnout has been growing since the beginning. Our Monday ride sees almost 40 people on a regular basis through the summer, and even in the worst part of winter I am constantly surprised by how many mountain bikers brave the elements to ride with the group.

We recently slowed the pace on our Thursday night ride from “as fast as possible” to a more relaxed intermediate pace. Within a week or two of the change our numbers have jumped significantly and we are getting a great group of guys and girls to flow through the Snowden trails with us.

I have always loved leading rides and trying to get more people out on the trails for a safe, challenging, and fun ride.

But last week’s ride topped the rest. We had a tourist come out from the Prairies. He’d heard of the rides and took time out of his vacation to join us. He was obviously fit, but had never ridden Snowden. I was keen to get him out, but a little worried about his skill level.

It wasn’t a judgmental concern, but you just never know how people are going to handle the roots and rocks of the North Island. I wanted him to have a good ride, but I also had the rest of the group to consider.

As we headed out, he stuck in the middle of the pack. The first section was a long gradual climb and he did great. His smile was enough to ease my mind, and I stopped worrying about him after that.

The ride continued and I found myself steering toward one of my favourite trails, Vlad the Impaler. It is mostly downhill, very technical, and littered with nasty roots, rock bluffs, and tight treed sections. To do it at speed is challenging for any rider, and it ends with a steep twisty rock shoot. If you’re not on your game, the consequences can be severe.

As I was pushing my own pace down Vlad, getting lost in the ride, I remembered our Prairie boy, and wondered if I’d bitten off more than he could chew?

We gathered at the bottom and he came out in one piece. I think it was tough for him, but he figured it out, and he was still smiling. After the ride he mentioned he had been looking for an Island town to retire in, and with a big smile, added that Campbell River just moved way up the list.

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

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