There are some snapshots of time that you remember forever. Discrete moments that seem to have no surface-level importance; weeks that had significant events; individual days that imprint themselves on your personal evolution timeline. I have a lot of these snapshots - some good, some devastating, all perfectly embalmed in my brain tissue. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense why your brain chooses to save certain information in perfect detail. Other times, the significance of the experience makes it completely obvious. This last week has been one of those times that I will remember forever. Every detail has been sharper, every lived moment more compelling than the average. Sadly, this time, the sharpening of experience and memory has mostly been because of tragedy.
Moriah’s murder has devastated the North American cycling community. I didn’t know Mo personally, and I’d only raced against her once - at Sea Otter this year. I had heard about her - her vibrant personality and her on-the-bike prowess - and I got to see it firsthand at that race. At Sea Otter, I spent the first 20-30 minutes riding with Mo, attempting to hang with her on the double track, losing the sprints with her for the single track, until she dropped me like a sack of hammers and bridged to that small lead group. In a blink, I became one of many to have the privilege of getting my ass kicked by Mo. At the time, I didn’t know who she was and I remember thinking, “Who is this girl? Jeez, she’s strong”. After the race looking through photos, I realized it was Moriah and I thought, “Oh. Makes sense now.”.
My heart has broken for her friends, family, and the whole community. There is no way to sugarcoat the devastation. I was looking forward to a year of racing her at these Life Time events, and was counting on her presence to push me to higher heights. Her energy will still do that. I am not good at grief, and I don’t want to steal pain that isn’t mine. But I’m sending my love to this community and letting her circle know that I saw Mo, she made an impression on me, and she made me want to be better at what I do.
We also, this week, had a tornado rip through my beautiful hometown of Uxbridge. I have never seen anything like this storm. It came in so quickly and with so much force. The damage is extensive - central places in our community (like the arena, the brewery, the United church) all lost their roofs; countless people are trying to clean up damage to their homes, property, and our beautiful forests; the entire township is without power and services like phones or internet. It’s been a grounding experience, for sure. Personally, I was out on the bike when the emergency alert came through my phone. I was tempted to ignore it, as I figured I’d probably be okay in a thunderstorm on my bike. But my sister texted me right after, and something felt different, so I asked her to send my dad on a rescue mission. I hammered as close to home as I could get, and intersected my dad about 10km out from my parents’ house. Literally seconds after I met my dad and got in the car, the winds and rain arrived out of seemingly nowhere. We couldn’t drive because the rain and wind were so intense, so we just waited the front out. The severe front end was through in a few minutes, and the damage immediately became apparent. Rows of hydro poles (12 inches thick in diameter) were snapped in half, massive old trees downed, and power immediately gone. The more I think about it, the more I realize how lucky I was to get picked up in the literal nick of time. Once home, we would find out about the other devastation and realize that it was a tornado/funnel cloud. We continued to have cell service for a few hours before the power (presumably, a generator or battery back up) to the cell towers ran out, and we’ve been mostly in the dark since then. I’m currently sitting at a grocery store using their internet to get this post out. Thankfully, I don't think anyone was hurt and my parents' home is all good. Just another reminder of how fragile our environment is, and how important family support is.
I feel like I remember every moment from this last week. I’m sure there’s something to that, how the brain stores information that is temporally connected to significant events. And so though these things that happened are terrible, I also have a crisp memory of all the good that happened this week.
I had some amazing rides and really enjoyable training sessions. In the lead up to Unbound I’m doing some longer stuff again, and getting to spend hours lost in my hometown’s countryside has been so wonderful. You’d think a six hour rail trail session would be mind-numbing, but here it’s anything but! I was reunited with my family after being away for five months, and felt my soul immediately inflate with joy (and my stomach immediately inflate with their amazing cooking). I got to celebrate both my mom and Gramma’s birthdays (it’s been years since I’ve been home for their birthdays in May, as we’re usually in Europe). I happened across the final high school mountain bike race of the school year on one of my rides, and got to reconnect with how I got started in this sport in the first place. My bike also took me to my favourite local coffee shop (Nexus) and my favourite local bakery (Butter Tarts n’ More in Little Britain). Uxbridge is the greenest I’ve seen it in a decade, and with jet lag I’ve been up to see the sun creep above the tree line every morning. In the aftermath of the storm, I’ve gotten to see how community-minded everyone is; so many messages, friendly waves, and collaborative efforts to clean up debris. Starting my days with morning tea on the camp stove because the power is still out (which is a weirdly fun activity). I had a skunk altercation on one of my rides, which though not happy, is hilarious (and has left a faint but pungent odour attached to my bike and shoes). So many little and big moments of joy in the last week, forever cemented on my brain.
We move through tragedy and hardship together, by drawing on collective strength. I also, personally, move through it by riding my bike. Thankfully, I have another full week of both things on tap - family time, and two-wheel therapy.