Provo -> Air Rec Center -> Squamish -> Whistler
12 days of riding
Endless epic memories
Fred LaRiviere Vann Pollard
Bonus add on: Hadrien Lackner
We set off from Provo at 6am on August 6th with 10 athletes in J-Quelin (team van). Spent the night in Bellingham, Washington and met up with Jill Mason and her son Nick. We crossed the border without a problem and made our way to the Air Rec Center.
If you’ve never been to the Air Rec Center, it’s worth a trip. Stopping here helped break up the drive and allow our athletes to get back in the groove of riding in a developmental way. They had a moderate line with no gaps to build confidence, a bigger line that was actually easier and smoother than the moderate line, and then the big slopestyle type line. Finley guinned this line and then it was on with Luke, Fred, Drake, and Nick all hitting the big line like it was no problem.
The airbag setup was awesome to learn tricks into and then take them to the resi. We basically had the place to ourselves on a Wednesday so the kids rode hard from 2pm-8pm. Unfortunately, Alex went down on the first hit and first run of the day, breaking his collarbone. Alex is usually the one to warmup and take things easy at first, and the feature he was hitting was certainly within his ability. Just a miscalculation of speed and a hard case to OTB and a busted collarbone. Luckily it’s not a bad break and he’ll be back at it in 4-6 weeks. Alex was crushed to miss out on THE Whistler trip, but it will always be there.
We repacked the trailer (which the new rack system made so much easier!) and headed off to Squamish. We arrived around 11pm at our Airbnb to be greeted by our very nice hosts. The house we stayed at was a highlight of the trip. We had a huge yard and a swing to hang out in. The Squamish river was a half mile away with some mini dirt jumps next to it. Squamish is a special place and because of where we stayed, our hosts, and riding the local trails, it felt like home.
Staying in Squamish a few days prior to Whistler worked out great. It allowed the boys to spend some time together and just hang out without the craziness of Whistler and Crankworx.
On Thursday we slept in and got our bikes and shuttle rigs ready to go ride Half Nelson and Full Nelson. Actually, we did not shuttle. We pedaled. Weird, I know.
This came with much complaining.
But it’s easy to avoid complaining since I can just pedal faster than the complainers :) and the bears kept them somewhat close to the group.
On our way up we found the end of Grin n Holler and the boys sent all the big gaps on that trail. If there are big jumps, there is no complaining on the way up. A short 15 minute pedal past that we found the start of Half Nelson and ripped down that.That trail is so fun and definitely worth a few laps. The pedal up is not bad at all and if done non-stop can be done in about 20-30 minutes.
After that I forced encouraged everyone to take another lap up Cake Walk and to Full Nelson/Half Nelson. That pedal up was steeper and looser and killed some moral. We lost one nearly to the top, never to be heard from again. We’ll remember our lost comrade forever.
That ride down was even better as we knew the trail a bit more and could let it rip. So tacky and smooth and fast!
That night we gorged on Chicken Tikka Masala to replenish our nutrients. It was also a great time to enjoy a fire in the backyard. We had a great chat about the trip, my expectations, and what they can expect from the trip. To kick off our sports psych sessions, I asked them to identify a role model in their lives and come up with 3 characteristic traits that they admire in that person, and then come up with 3 things they can do on a daily basis to develop those characteristic traits in themselves.
If you’ve never done this before, it can be a great exercise to realize that our heroes are just people that have worked really hard at building their character traits (RPG nerds can relate). Some of these traits come easier, and some we have to work hard at.
The boys came up with some great role models and why they look up to them. Aumery Pierron was a common one with traits like: positivity, desire to learn even when winning, serious about performance, but doesn’t take himself too seriously, and a good teammate.
I encouraged them all to start or continue their Success Journal (this will be a later blog). There are many ways to use a journal, but for athletes, it’s primary tool in my mind is to get the athlete thinking outside of themselves and show gratitude for what they have.
We did not have time to talk about this at the fire that night, but athletes can’t and won’t make it anywhere on their own. By paying attention to what their heroes and mentors are doing, young athletes should start to realize that those that help, get the most help. In other words, if you’re gracious, kind, caring, positive, and fun to be around, then you’ll get the most help and rocket to the top. Being a top level athlete requires a certain amount of selfishness to get there, but if you lose sight of those around you, then you will not make it very far in anything.
Using a Success Journal to write down 3 positive things from the day and 3 ways you showed gratitude is a simple, quick trick to getting outside of yourself and building communication skills. It also gives you time to reflect on the day and think about any mistakes you may have made, and how you can prevent them in the future.
Spending this time on yourself will pay huge dividends later on in life and keep you from making the same mistakes twice. It also allows you to take the greatest advantage of these amazing opportunities you have!
Think about it. You just spent nearly two weeks riding your bike in a place where people travel from all over the world to ride. You rode the same trails as the best riders in the world. You competed against the fastest kids in the world. If you walk away from this experience without your mind being blown, then you’ve let social media influence you the wrong way.
We talked a bit about this at the fire if you remember. We are so saturated with amazing images and feats on social media, and it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of, “Well it wasn’t as good as…” or “Yeah, but I can’t do it like… so I might as well not even try”
Just remember to keep it all in perspective. Those pros you watch on a daily basis came up through the ranks the same as everyone else. They started out as a beginner and worked their butts off harder than anyone else through pain, tears, blood, sweat, and lots of help. We don’t see everything that led up to that one perfect moment captured on camera. Just remember that it takes a lot to get there, and if you aren’t willing to try the first steps because it’s not good enough or you’re going to fail, then you will never get to experience that perfect moment when you do succeed.
That’s where your Success Journal comes in handy. It allows you to focus on the positive steps you’ve taken to get to where you are. Think about where each of you were last year. You’re completely different riders and so much better. Writing down your experiences and lessons helps you remember everything how it should be. Science has shown that humans store memories based on how we perceive them to be based on our underlying beliefs and interpretations. I hope that these experiences of traveling the world riding your bike are positive memories and that you’re using these experiences to learn and grow for the future.
Back to bikes.
Friday we packed up and headed to the Alice Lake area to go slab hunting! After a quick and steep pedal up to Entrails, we had a blast riding some gnarly lines and slabs. Everywhere we looked was a new line and a new slab to conquer. We were out in the bush for 4 hours riding everything we could and ended on In n Out slab. It’s the massive, picturesque slab that’s pretty famous. Thatcher wins the day for riding everything on his new Commencal Meta Hard Tail.
After pedaling back to the lake, we swam for a bit and then drove back to town for some well earned ice cream.
Squamish is a rad spot and I could spend a whole lifetime exploring that area. Definitely headed back soon!
Then we went to Whist