MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Summer 2020

58 words :: Danielle Baker photos :: Margus Riga “It doesn’t have to be fun, to be fun.” These words are a personal mantra for Margus Riga. “As a modern Western society, we have grown used to not dealing with major adversity on a daily basis. We’ve lost the idea that doing something difficult will give us more than doing something for simple, easy fun. I am most at peace and the most satisfied after having done something truly challenging and out of my comfort zone.” A professional mountain bike photographer, Riga’s spring and summer months are mostly spent managing a high-energy and socially chaotic schedule of travel, events and editing. But his downtime, when he has it, sees him embarking on journeys of what most would consider miserable sufferfests. For Riga, these trips are more akin to moving meditations. One particular bike day from last summer stands out—a 16-hour reverse (the more difficult way) North Shore Triple Crown—riding up and over Cypress, Fromme and Seymour mountains on Vancouver’s infamous North Shore. The reverse Triple Crown tallies in at a savage 78 kilometres and 13,000 feet of climbing, but Riga says he wasn’t doing it for social glory (the only photos he posted were to his private Instagram account), nor was it about going further, deeper or wilder than ever before (he was in cell reception the whole time). Rather, it was simply about setting a goal and discovering what he was capable of achieving. “I knew I was going to suffer all day long on this ride and I chose to not give a shit, because it was going to be wicked,” he says. A few days after summer solstice, Riga set out from Horseshoe Bay at 5:30 a.m., kicking off his solo adventure with a 2.5-hour hike-a-bike; pushing up sections that were too steep and loose to pedal. Only an hour in and three quarters of the way through a kilometre-long boulder field, he thought, “Yup, this is going to be a painful day,” i.e., exactly what he’d hoped for. The day’s route took him up, down and through old hiking trails and purpose-built mountain bike tracks, along paved stretches through neighbourhoods between the mountains, and into wide open alpine vistas with views of Vancouver, Mount Baker and the Salish Sea. “I thought a lot about my surroundings on the ride,” says Riga, “and the heat. It was a scorcher and I was pretty much soaked in sweat the entire day.” As the day wore on, repeated pushes up jarringly steep and root-infested sections began to take a toll. “At this point, I could feel the brunt of close to eight hours of moving around in the mountains. I was BACKYARD Margus Riga’s big day out SOLSTICE SOLO SUFFERFEST