The ride of my life

It’s not very often I wax philosophical when I’m on the trail for an extended period of time. Usually I’m thinking about my family, deadlines, future projects and what I’ll do with $1 million when it miraculously falls into my lap.

Gotta be prepared, you know.

But when I was in Calgary, I went on a bike that was a road map to my life. From the moment my dad first introduced me to this network of trails through a cossetted, overgrown opening in the fence when I was 13, I have clocked thousands of miles on Calgary’s trail system (one of the most extensive in North America).

My favorite loop is a long one–close to 30 miles and 3 hours. It starts from my home, leads along the Bow River Pathway, intersects with the Elbow River Pathway, eventually spitting me out at one of my favorite places on earth: the Glenmore Reservoir. I then traverse several miles of roads to get home.

I feel bereft if I’m unable to do this trail when I’m home and lately it’s been hit-and-miss. One year, much of the trail was closed due to flooding. Other times, it’s been the weather. But this year, I specifically brought my road bike and announced to my parents I’d be arising early one morning to go for a ride. I was like a kid before Christmas and could barely sleep the night before, just knowing the trail I’ve been waiting two years to ride was going to be perfect.

It wasn’t.

It started gloriously at dawn as I passed all my haunts like the world-famous Bow River (a favorite for fishing).
and Carburn Park.
(a favorite place for skipping school. :)

But things went downhill from there as I approached the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary & Nature Center. Usually this 36-hectare wildlife reserve is a favorite as it winds throughout the riverine forest by the flowing Bow River and alongside a peaceful lagoon but there was a big, ugly sign blocking my path:


Problem is, there was no clear alternate route. I floundered for a while before eventually asking directions from a fellow biker. “Cross the Deerfoot (freeway) and you’ll be connected with a trail on the other side. Follow that for a few miles and then cross back over before you reach downtown.”

Cross over freeways? Through industrial sections? I debated turning back but stubbornly refused because I’d waited a long time to do this ride. I followed his instructions and was surprised at the unfamiliar vistas that opened up to me that were memorable in their own ways. After about a half hour of stressing, I eventually hooked back up to my original trail, thrilled to have mastered this new network and all the more grateful for the path I’d been on.

The lesson?

Life. My entire life has been one detour after another. From obsessed about playing college soccer in Canada to blowing out my ankle at 15 to giving up soccer to finding solace biking these same trails to now going to a church college in the U.S. to serving a Mormon mission I’d never intended to serve to having a career I never dreamed of having to marrying the love of my life and raising my family far from the land I love.


That day, I eventually connected with my beloved Elbow River.

And a half-hour after that, my favorite perch overlooking the Glenmore Reservoir.

Like my ride, my life has had plenty of anxieties, bumps and bruises along the way but by never giving up the result was the same: I reached (and continue to reach) my destination.

And it has been all-the-more glorious because of my fortuitous journey.

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