I’ve been in Kamloops for about a week, and it’s been great. It was a big move to get here, but now that I’m settled, the changes in day to day life are actually quite small (the climbs are a lot bigger here though!) A new environment to do the same things as back home, but hopefully better, is one way to put it.
Every Canadian should drive across the country at some point. If they have the means, time, and patience. My decision to road trip nearly 4000km from home to British Columbia came about quite quickly; a couple curious emails to bike shops looking for staff in Kamloops, an almost immediate phone call interview, then a check to make sure I’d have a place to live in town, followed by a mixed but understanding conversation with Morgan at Bikeland to say I’d be leaving, a night to sleep on the decision, then four days to pack up before hopping in the car and hitting the road. Basically an overnight decision and then few days to get organized and go – which might sound stress inducing, but it was alarmingly cathartic to decide to change the trajectory of my future (for a few months, at least)
The drive was certainly the most daunting part of committing to the move, I don’t like driving, so I figured doing three 14-15hours driving would be the best way to just get it over with… Even a week earlier, this kind of trip wasn’t on my radar for any reason, but as COVID restrictions were lifting, it seemed more OK to move around within the country. My stops were almost exclusively roadside, except for gas stops, and to overnight in Thunder Bay and Regina. I bunked out in my friend Mia Serratore’s basement in Thunder Bay, it was refreshing and made me happy to catch up with her – and discover she was also planning to move west soon(!), but it was also bittersweet to pass through the town I spent so much time without being able to see everyone there. I had similar sentiments going through Canmore… but I was on a mission, this drive was frankly about the destination, not the journey, and with the world still a little uneasy with COVID, I thought it best to limit my stops as much as possible.
So destination, not journey. Over 40 hours alone in your car offers a lot of time for self-reflection between the music, podcasts, and catch-up calls, but all I really found out about myself was that I don’t dislike driving quite as much as I thought and that I have a tiny bladder… Kidding aside, I did think all this time to myself with only the ribbon of asphalt ahead through the endless prairies would lead to some deeper self-reflection than it actually did… I guess I was just more at peace than I felt back home.
I’m extremely fortunate, and appreciative to have Catharine Pendrel and Keith Wilson hosting me in Kamloops for the summer. Catharine, fellow mountain bike national team member, Sandra Walter, and I travelled together for most of the World Cups last summer; they’re amazing, and (like almost all BC’ers) have regularly joked about how all us central/eastern Canadian’ers should move out west. So when I checked in to ask “If I drove out to BC, next week, could I actually move in with you for the summer?…”, we all laughed a lot, and were psyched to see it happen.
The decision to move was more of a “why not go?”, than having a particular motive or reason to go. I had people to live and train with, a job to keep me busy – the same routines, but in a new environment that’s given a sense of newness that I was hopeful would give me more energy and resolve in my pursuits as an athlete that I have struggled with since the fall, and even moreso this spring. So far it has.
While the world has been turned on it’s head and is tragically plagued with illness and violence, I’m grateful to be able to find a little place of peace in my own life; as displaced as it is from most of the world. I don’t know how I can help society in it’s current struggles, other than listen, learn, and be a positive voice in conversations when they arise, but I hope things I can act on become clear, and that we can all progress towards a better future and be better versions of ourselves.