Birthdays have never meant much to me. Always seen as just another day, I brush them off and forget they even happen. But this year I am turning 21 and this birthday is special to me. Ten years ago on April 28th, I turned 11 and for my birthday that year I was gifted my first real mountain bike, a Kona Stuff. Riding that bike around the streets and trails in Whitehorse blew my mind at the time. It had a Marzocchi EXR comp fork with 4 inches of butter-smooth travel, super tough Ditch Witch rims and Shimano Deore mechanical disc brakes that were so strong they could probably have stopped a semi-truck. It was my dream come true to be riding a Kona bike and I rode it almost everyday. And I never realized it at the time, but every time I landed a no-footer and every time I wheely dropped a picnic table, that bike was changing my life.

Back when I rode that bike I didn’t really have many friends and a lot of kids made fun of me for riding a mountain bike. Skateboarding was the definite road to success and super stardom for the youth of Whitehorse and although I skated a bit, I wasn’t a member of the “skate or die” team. That meant that every time I road my skateboard kids thought I was the shit, and every time I rode my mountain bike I was a gay lord, a poser and just about every other label used for lesser beings. You would think names like that would be very influential in decision making for an 11 year old kid, but I never really cared. I always thought, screw them, I am having way to much fun riding my bike to care what they think. Its taken me the entirety of ten years to realize it but that bike really did change my life. It taught me that it was alright if I wanted to make my own rules and my own decisions. It taught me that whether it was off the end of a picnic table or down a steep sandy hill it was ok to follow my heart wherever it wanted to go.

So the reason that this birthday feels special to me is that it is my ten year reunion with mountain biking. If you had told me when I was 11 that in ten years I would still be riding and experiencing the things that I do now I would not have believed you. I am turning 21 and I barely feel much older than 11. I have spent the last ten years of my life doing what I love the most and following those lessons that my little grey Kona Stuff taught me so many years ago. Nowadays it is off the end of burly Kamloops booters aboard my Kona Supreme Operator, but I am still following my heart everywhere it wants to go. And with all the recent action taking place around me it really feels like I am doing the right thing. When I blow out my birthday candles this week I think I’ll wish that in another 10 years when I turn 31, I will still be telling people, “Screw off, I am having way too much fun riding my bike.”

See some photos and videos of Dylan from his birthday blog post HERE