Weekend Warm-Up: Choosing to Live

Ryan Correy was, by all accounts, an inspirational adventure rider. His cross-continent rides includes 25,000km from Alaska to Argentina and the grueling Race Across America, 4,418km through rugged mountain terrain. He published two books, including his autobiography, A Purpose Ridden. His final book, Bikepacking the Canadian Rockies, was due for publication in 2019. The guidebook is now scheduled for release in early 2022. The reason for the delay: Ryan Correy died in 2018.

When Correy first felt ill, he put it down to an “innocent stomach bug”. Still, he persisted through to a first place finish at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline Bike Race in Alberta, despite barely being able to keep food down. The very next morning, he learnt the dire truth: His test results identified colon cancer.

This is where Correy’s wife, Sarah Hornby’s story begins. “There is no guidebook for how to face death,” she says. With just nine months between Correy’s diagnosis and his passing, it’s little wonder there’s an element of struggle in her voice. “As a way to connect with Ryan through his final project,” Hornby decided to complete all 10 of the multiday bikepacking routes in her husband’s book.

“I hadn’t really considered whether I’d ride the routes myself,” Hornby confesses. Not much of a bikepacker then, she admits now to having fallen in love with seeing the mountains this way. It allows her to explore long distances, quickly and simply, that she finds most appealing. “Mountains are a place of peace and strength,” says Hornby.

Sarah Hornby seeks a way to move on from the death of her husband without leaving him behind.

She and Correy had moved to Canmore, Alberta to be close to the mountains. In keeping with his nature, he quickly decided that writing a guidebook would help others explore the area too. “Correy had a way of making others feel special,” she says. “If you had a goal or dream, he wanted to help make it happen.”

For Hornby, the Rocky Mountains offer a solace to her new situation; continuing life without Correy. Along each of the routes in his guidebook, Hornby scatters her husband’s ashes.

The poetic offering makes these routes special to Hornby. Many others will cycle them, but no one will experience them in quite the same way again. But the symbol of leaving the remains of a loved one in such beautiful, timeless places is not lost on us.