Participants rest at the top of Project 9. Photo Submitted

Elk Valley locals mountain bike for mental health

Strahan Loken leads a summer solstice fundraiser for the Elk Valley Suicide Task Force

Fernie local, Strahan Loken, led a sunrise to sunset bike ride for mental health on June 20. The pedal powered solstice event toured Fernie’s mountain biking trails from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Throughout the day, 40 local riders biked alongside Loken as he aimed to achieve 4,000 metres in vertical gain and $750 in donations.

Teaming up with Ev Eijsermans, Loken’s bike ride raised funds for the Elk Valley Suicide Task Force to create a video highlighting resources available in the Elk Valley for suicide awareness, prevention, and support. The duo created the event after noticing the additional need for community connection and mental health support in light of pandemic related uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Wanting to combine his passion for biking with an initiative that would benefit the community, Loken created the GoFundMe campaign as Eijsermans connected with the Task Force, coordinated participation, and handled various logistics throughout the ride day.

According to Loken, the community’s response to the fundraiser was incredible, as the summer solstice ride drew in more than $3,500.

“Mental health is a real challenge in society, there is stigma even talking about it. The Elk Valley Suicide Task Force is in the early stages of raising awareness for the resources available,” said Loken. “Regardless of the ride distance or vertical, by far the more important aspect was raising awareness around mental health. I’m proud of the positive impact we made on the community.”

Having mountain biked for the last 25 years, Loken was well prepared for the physical challenge of riding what ended up being over 4,100 vertical metres and roughly 110 kilometres, in just 17 hours.

By the end of the day, Loken completed ten downhill trails, including climbing routes and connectors. The rides were divided into four stages, inviting participants to join in any ride or full stage. Beginning bright and early, the ride kicked off with roughly 1,500 metres of elevation gain, as Loken powered down Project 9 and Eric’s Trip trails.

The second stage totaled approximately 1,100 vertical metres, as riders pedaled around Montane completing Southern Comfort and Hyperextension.

Stage three continued later in the afternoon, in what is typically a shuttle area that Loken powered up on his bicycle. Participants were invited to drive up in a truck, cheering Loken on and joining him on the downhills.

After stage three, all riders met for burritos, beer, and a well deserved rest downtown. Following dinner, the ride culminated on Swine Flu and Sidewinder, after which everyone piled their bikes downtown, and celebrated with beers.

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Riders enjoy the view atop Porky Blue.

Mountain bikers celebrate riding to the top of Swine Flu. Photos Submitted

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