Is This A Logo??

Is This A Logo??

Saturday, 30 November 2013

On Saskatchewan, the Riders, and Home (and MTB!!!)

So last week I was in my home province of Saskatchewan, to visit family, and attend the Grey Cup.  The beloved Roughriders were not only hosting the championship, they were contesting it against the Eastern champs, the Hamilton Tiger Cats. 

The following pictorial gives some of the story (the most vivid pics are not included as they are too much even for this blog!).
7000 fans crammed into 'Riderville' every night from Thursday to Saturday...line-ups were crazy!!!

Me, my sister, my uncle at Riderville...

Cousin Tori at Riderville...she was soooo hammered...

There were many 'things' seen at Riderville, most of which I cannot in good conscience post here...but I risk this one...

And maybe this one...a private pose by a cheerleader...
The enemy...

I stayed at my Aunt Bev's, with my brother, his wife, my mother, and sister, and cousins.
This is me, my brother, and mom.
This is my mom, and my auntie Bev, tossing a jar of cousin Dave's moonshine...touchdown??
Me, my brother (Robert...I have one brother and 4 sisters...only one sister attended the festivities), my cousin Brittni and her 'friend' Mich, getting ready to head to the game!!

Robert and myself, at the game!!

Halftime show...I just missed the skidoo backflip....seriously!!  It was wild!!


Cousin Dave, and his wife Andrea, post game on Albert Street...Albert Street had 40,000 people crowding it after the game!!


The Riders kicked butt, and won convincingly....winning the Grey Cup! 

The whole experience will be memories for a lifetime. 

In fact going back home, reminded me of how special Saskatchewan is...and if not special, at least different in a good way.  The history of families 7 - 8 generations deep, who literally put their blood and sweat (and as a result their souls), into working the land, and building their communities together has nurtured a special connection to the land, to nature, and to each other that we just don't see in 'big' cities.
(Yeah, I know, this isn't very Mountain Bikish...but life can't be all mud and carbon can it?....Besides, hang in, I am getting to the MTB stuff!!)
In the meantime...keep reading!  You will like it!! 

This blog post by Erin Church explains small town Saskatchewan as good or better than I could write I include it here for your cultural enlightenment, or at least an 'Hey, that's kinda cool...'.  

OK, here's the blog...

It's Not Just About Football

Erin ChruschNov 22, 2013

You may have heard that there was a football game being played in Regina this weekend. Tens of thousands of fans descend upon Mosaic Stadium to cheer on the home team at Taylor Field. There might have been people there cheering for the other team, but I'll go out on a short limb and say they were a minority. 

For many of those fans, it wasn't just a trip to Regina; it's also a journey home. You might even call it a pilgrimage. 

Growing up in Saskatchewan is not the most glamorous of experiences, especially when it also means living in a town with a population that hovers around 1300. Forget about stoplights, we had just two four-way stops, although I think that there might be three by now. I attended the same school from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and graduated with only 26 others. When you ask what someone's phone number is you only get the last four digits; the front prefix is always the same. 

The thing about growing up in Saskatchewan is that you spend a lot of time feeling almost apologetic about it. People from other provinces joke about how they call it the "gap", that empty space between Alberta and Manitoba. The passenger trains pass through it at night. We hear about how flat it is, how boring it seems, and how lonely it must be from people who have never spent much - if any - time there. Like most things, if enough people tell you something pretty soon you start believing that it's true. 

By the time I'd finished university (at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon) I was ready to go find out for myself if the grass really was greener on the other side of the border. I followed the Saskatchewan diaspora west, to the promised land of Alberta where they had mountains and no sales tax. We enjoyed living in Edmonton (seriously!), but we were staunch defenders of our prairie home to the east. And soon, we realized that there was no better place to be among friendly faces than at a Rider game. There was no better cure for homesickness than cheering on the Green & White. 

It's hard to explain the feeling of community that permeates Saskatchewan from people who aren't from there. No matter where you're from, whether it's Meadow Lake or Nipawin or Weyburn or Macklin, there's a sense of shared experience that I don't know exists anywhere else (although maybe folks from Newfoundland can understand what I'm talking about). 

And at some point, you realize that a wheat field just before harvest time is a sight to be appreciated, not disdained. You make sure people know that northern Saskatchewan is full of trees and lakes and hills. You are in awe of the sheer magnitude of the space before you, untouched by urban sprawl or spoiled in any way other than what nature itself intended. 

When I think of Saskatchewan, I think of a place that accepts nothing other than authenticity. You won't get far by being something you're not. Wearing high fashion or going to exotic places on vacation is nice and your friends might envy you, but no one will think that you're better for it or that it makes you more important than anyone else. People might think you're crazy for putting a watermelon on your head, but they understand. 

Every time I see someone wearing a Roughrider sweater in Costco, or a vehicle with a Roughrider license plate, I smile inside and think, "I know where you're from.", not in terms of place, but in terms of values. It's likely we can sit down for a drink together and within ten minutes we'll have found a connection, whether it's because my cousin married a girl you went to high school with or because we knew some of the same people from university. If I say to that guy, "Where are we going?" nine out of ten times he'll respond with "Higher!" (inside joke).

My kids' experience of Saskatchewan will be much different than mine, consisting mostly of weekend visits to their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, but we bring them up as Rider fans so that they know this part of their history. I might be romanticizing it a bit, and I realize that my concept of what being from Saskatchewan means may have more to do with my rural upbringing than anything else. I know that things are changing for my province, mostly in good ways. Kids in my hometown don't have to rely on a fuzzy signal from an AM station in Saskatoon to get their music, for example. But no matter how big our accomplishments, the underdog mentality is still there. 

Rider Pride is about so much more than a football team. We cheer for the Riders because deep down we love where we came from, even if the rest of the world doesn't understand why. We cheer for the Riders because it is the thread that binds us together, no matter where we've ended up. We cheer for the Riders because we believe in the strength of community. We're loyal whether the team wins or loses because cheering for them has very little to do with the game. 

It has everything to do with being proud of a place that part of us will always call Home.

So there ya go...a little bit about Saskatchewan...  So how does all of this little incursion of my life into yours pertain to mountain biking??  Well after all of this 'magic', I have come back a wee bit heavier (and by 'wee' I mean "Holy shit I'm fat!!"...208 lbs!!!).  So I have set up a nutrition plan, and base/build training strategy to get back on the straight and narrow (lean)... post will cover this plan...

Stay posted!!

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