Words: Ola Krol
Cover Photo: Jake Dyson
There’s no benchmark that tells you you’ve finally grown up. For me, it was three things that made me realize that I’ve started encroaching on this new territory. One, there’s a definitive lack of shame that began accompanying my day-to-day. Two, the realization that I’d have to put some time in as a nine-to-fiver while I figure out my life trajectory. And three, that produce goes bad really fast when you’re living alone and ultimately hate vegetables. And while that third point has less to do with adulthood and more to do with the fact that I’d prefer to eat cereal for every meal- the first two resulted in me forming The 9-5 Diaries. So here it is, a journal of how I’m ‘staying sane’ working 50+ hour weeks in a mountain town that I simply adore. And although the sun rises and sets while I’m already kicking around an office, the lack of light just means finding more creative ways to have fun. After all, allowing yourself to fully grow up means giving up.
Chapter One: Night Riding with Michael Overbeck
By the time I met Mike in the Cheakamus parking lot, the sun had set and we had taken to precariously strapping our headlamps to our helmets. “It’s only a blue,” he assured me with a quick nod.
I met Mike at a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by our friends in Squamish. We quickly bonded over our second and third laps back to the kitchen to scoop more mashed potatoes and gravy. Wizened up by being on his own for a few years and living a sports-centric life out of the back of his Four-Runner, I wholeheartedly trust Mike with anything related to the outdoors. He lives and breathes a lifestyle that’s constantly about pushing his body to its physical limits and expressing himself through the beautiful moments he captures through a camera lens. So, when we began our slow climb up I shook off the incredulous eyes of people on their way down searching our faces for clues as to whether we were lost— or worse yet—tourists.
I pedalled seven feet behind Mike and could only gasp-answer the questions he kept throwing out towards me. His tireless questioning gave no sign of the two circuits he had completed before I had even joined him. We came over the last hill to the top of the run and the headlamp that I had been refraining from turning on proved itself, much like me, drained of all life.
“I know the run well, use mine,” said Mike, who then descended into the darkness without hesitation. The sound of dirt spraying over corners, and the constant whooping being the only real sign he was flying down the trail, and not into trees. Turning on my light I illuminated the run for what it was—a black. Cheers, Mike.
I only just got into riding maybe a few years ago for the same reason I had decided to pick up other hobbies, like ice skating and skateboarding—to impress a guy. While my skates and skateboard sit in the dark corner of my parent’s garage visible to no one but have too much sentimental value to throw away, my hardtail is the one thing I continued to spend hours on. Though the particular love interest that inspired me to navigate to the nearest bike-store three years ago became just another afterthought I cringe about before bed sometimes, I have never regretted spending the money I had saved up all summer on that bike.
As I adjusted my seat in order to follow him, I knew maybe a black trail wasn’t made for me and the bright orange bike I whip around on with the reflectors still attached. And yet, there was a familiar feeling of blood rushing into my hands and heart. I sunk into it and into the abyss.
Staring down the black throat of the wooded forest is enough to intimidate anyone. Dark trails are no joke. I mean, maybe unless you’ve grown up around the Sea-to-Sky area much like Mike, and have a databank of every root and rock engraved in your head you can treat them like a quick punch-line. While the exhausted headlamp continued to sit haphazardly on his helmet, he took to all the jumps, laughing as he’d find the ground by feeling it and not seeing it. I found a half-frozen creek the same way—by feeling as it swallowed the whole right side of my body. The best thing about biking in the dark, I soon realized, is no one can see your tears.
We emerged at the base of the trail, wetter, with more bruises, and in double the time it should have normally taken. But there was a lightness that followed the pedal along the road back to our cars. As we were kicking up wheelies and racing, my shoulders felt less heavy. Eyes filled with hot tears from the ice that hung in the air. Lungs burned in a familiar way from the mix of exertion and spicy wet cedar smell that is so Whistler.
Embracing the people in my life who are willing to make time for the outdoors is important. While forcing them into getting matching “Night-Riderz” t-shirts is less advised it’s that lack of pride that keeps you young. Our biking group has grown to four, and now although I joke with them about being a club, I’m as serious as I’ve ever been about team activities.
“If we’re going to recruit more pals we need to speak to the positives, Mike!” I joke, unable to think of any as the whole right side of my body still stung with the chill of the creek. Not a man of many words, but when he does speak it’s with purpose, “Everything is a pro if you want it to be,” he shrugs before turning back to his Udon.
No one talks about how hard life transitions are. As we get older it’s easy to forget about the importance of play and making time to enjoy the company of your dearest friends, outside of meeting up for drinks. The days when it’s dark out and we’ve already put a whole shift in and then still choose to go outside and enjoy some type 2 fun are what make us different than people who accept growing up.