by Felix Burke
When I was younger, I liked to slalom through the broken line in the middle of a quiet road. I still love doing it. Weaving between paint spots on the pavement, letting the inertia of the wheels keep you from falling over. It is a simple pleasure. Driving on an interstate highway, the paint marks fly by a thousand a minute. I’m not going to start swerving my car between them, don’t worry, but it gets me wondering how many broken lines there are on earth to slalom through.
I am somewhere in the midwest, maybe Iowa. Things all look the same around here. I am heading home to Quebec after a trip that I will never forget. There are still a couple thousand kilometres before I get there, but the drive doesn’t bother me. It gives me time to savour the highlights of the past couple months and reflect on the experiences we had.
I remember the first coffee of the trip, boiled on the camp stove in the mountains of Northern Washington. It may have been burnt bean water, but at the time, it tasted like adventure.
Gas station coffee, which is in my hand as I drive, is not much of an improvement but it reminds me of all the roadside stops we made at in the past couple months. We visited some pretty remote pumps throughout the trip, it’s inspiring to think back on all the places we visited.
I set off on this trip with the intention of letting events unfold as they please. To ride the trail for the sake of riding the trail and seeing where it might lead. For a long time I was riding to get somewhere, I think a lot of people do. The trip, however, taught me that the magic happens on the ride, not when you get to the end. As I drive back towards the reality of routine, this lesson is the most valuable thing I bring home from the trip.
I hit a bump, the gas station coffee spills and stains my pants. I think back to the time we spent with climbers in Yosemite. It was, for me, the most inspiring part of the trip. The way the climbers let their physical and mental capacities be challenged by the terrain made me think about my riding and inspired the approach I want to have from now on. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to start the BC Bike Race this year, an event where the terrain and competition will bring the best out of me. My goals from now on will be inspired by exploration, adventure and testing my limits against nature.
My values for adventure, exploration and nature are what inspired this trip. I have always believed that passion for these should be cultivated. I am lucky to have been in places where it is part of the culture, where kids learn from a young age to see how far they can explore and what kind of adventures are possible. I have also been in places where these values are not part of the culture and I always leave these places with an uneasy feeling. I want to make a difference here.
Right now I want to make that difference through Trail Trybe, a project in Mont-Tremblant that introduces kids and adults to the power of mountain bikes. I am trying to introduce that culture for people who may not have been exposed to it and to nourish it in people who have.
My mind is filled with ideas, sometimes too many. There are a lot of yellow lines to swerve through in this world, but if the goal becomes to try and swerve through them all you are missing the point I think. It becomes about doing more and less about enjoying the feeling. I am motivated to bring my ideas and projects to life, but I want enjoy to process like that kid slaloming on his bike.
So where does the trail lead? The trail leads you to the next trail, which leads you to the next one after that, and so on. Enjoy the trail, and the post ride beer, but don’t rush to get to the end or you will miss out on all the magic!
Love the ride
Felix Burke is cross country racer from Mont-Tremblant, Que., training in Victoria, B.C. while studying at the University of Victoria. In 2018, Burke achieved his goal of winning the Canada Cup XCO series overall, racing for Rocky Mountain Bicycles. When returning to studies and training in September didn’t feel right, Burke decided to find answers on the trail. Where the Trail Leads is Burke’s story of the journey that follows. Chapter 1: New Season New Plan, Chapter 2: Planning, Chapter 3: Mt. Hood, Ore., Chapter 4: Dust and Burritos in Bend, Ore., Chapter 5: Bucketlist rides in Downieville, Cali, Chapter 6: Wrong turns in San Francisco, Chapter 7: Death Valley, Chapter 8: Santa-Claus, and Chapter 9: Arizona Cliffhanger Edition pt. 1 & pt. 2. Felix will be contributing to Canadian Cycling Magazine in French. Read his first column en Francais ici.