There’s an expression that’s always struck me as deep- “it takes a community to raise a child”.
Mountain biking, in the grand scheme of all things sporting related is adolescent in age. It was ‘born’ in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and seems to me like it’s on a steep upward trajectory toward maturity. I mean ‘adolescent’ in this case as reflecting a stage in maturity, not a specific age. When kids reach 12 or 13, there is a marked and sudden acceleration toward adulthood that those of us who are parents are familiar with, (some are terrified by it).
Over our past 13 years in this community, there’ve been many examples of our fledgling MTB community reaching out toward maturity, but not quite getting there. The will to thrive has always been there, and sometimes reaching out toward something new has been too far a reach. Like the child who can now walk, and whose reach can now extend to the stove top, our community has come away from time to time with scorched fingers.
Well, I think that Sooke’s mountain biking community is due for a bar mitzvah, (pun intended). Everywhere I look, I see indications of a seemingly sudden explosion in interest in our knobby tyred passtime. The miraculous rebirth of Sooke’s bike skills park, (under the midwifery of SEAPARC’s manager, Steve Knoeke) the long anticipated official opening of Harbourview Park, (the first park in the CRD to accept and encourage mountain biking) and the rapid firing of local synapses through the Sooke Bike Club all point in a direction that I know all to well. A point that has seemed, over the years, just beyond reach. A point that I’ve seen other communities surpass, making Sooke look to be quite the late bloomer.
Sooke itself is changing rapidly. Like an old alder tree, the town has gotten to a point where decay has set in and old age has toppled its main trunk. But alder, as its known, doesn’t die so easily. New shoots are sprouting, and they are full of new life. Mountain biking is an important branch in the regrowth of Sooke.
Lastly, they say that when a person loses one of their senses, their other senses become stronger and work better together. Lars was such a significant part of our community that he definitely was as important to it as a sense is to a being. Now that he’s gone, we’ve become stronger and we’re working better together than ever. We have him to thank for so much- not just for the trails he built, but for the life he built with us.
An adult’s strength is forged in childhood, and tempered over time, through hardship and success. Sooke’s MTB riders have experienced our share of both and I think that our community is well on its way to maturity. I see so many children now being raised by mountain biker parents, and these kids will hopefully take for granted that which they will eventually inherit. These children will develop a passion to become stewards of our community, but in a way, their very involvement accomplishes that. When your kid tells you to go riding with them, they are providing the raw materials for the kind of drive toward stewardship we, as a community, need.
Perhaps it’s also accurate to say that it takes a child to raise a community.