COVID-19 has caused the world as we know it to change overnight. Yet in British Columbia, we are immeasurably fortunate to have been largely spared, so far, from the overwhelming and brutal effects of the virus when compared to global hotbeds in Wuhan, New York, and London. Instead of becoming Vloggers when our season’s plans were upended in a blink, we turned to the woods to find solace, structure, and escape. Building trail in the hills behind our new home of Squamish, B.C. gave us a renewed excitement for a season at home in the province.
In British Columbia, the economic shockwave of the global pandemic stripped many trail building and advocacy organizations of their main sources of government funding, at a time when trail use and mountain biking are experiencing unprecedented growth in the province and around the world. This means more users, more trail wear, and less funding to fix the problems. To further fan the flames, social distancing restrictions have radically altered the way these organizations execute volunteer dig days, again reducing their ability to keep up with growing trail maintenance work. We decided to use our now cleared calendar to partner with these organizations and give back to their communities. In mid-June, our provincial government lifted the non-essential travel ban, allowing British Columbians to travel within the province. Mark and I took this opportunity to reshape our season around sharing the stoke of trail building across B.C. We reached out to five trail builders or trail advocacy organizations and contributed 340 hours to help them tune up their trails.
If nothing else, this summer’s program made us appreciate how stunningly beautiful the landscapes of British Columbia are, how magnetic mountain biking is, and how sport has an incredible ability to bring members of a community together, especially during times of economic hardship and uncertainty.