It was late September in Fernie, BC. As we pedaled uphill, Dylan and I traded stories of summer travel and current work projects. Not small talk, but not terribly personal either. It was fall in British Columbia, the leaves were quickly changing and the morning air was crisp. Questions fell fast as both of us are naturally curious and full of coffee. I offhandedly asked Dylan what he liked most about biking and he laughed, then audibly paused, and after a moment said “the weightlessness.” I chewed on his answer for a bit.
Dylan Sherrard is a professional mountain biker for Specialized who grew up in the Yukon and now lives in Kamloops, BC. He spends his summers coaching the next generation of shredders through his Shred Hard camps. He’s a bearded, soft-spoken, and a soulful guy who is most often found with a ear-to-ear grin. He loves just about everything related to mounting biking – especially finding new ways to use biking as a positive impact on the world.
After waiting at the summit for the rest of our party, we dropped into the descent, and I quickly figured out what Dylan meant. Some riders love to be fully pinned, flying downhill as fast as they can. Some ride to catch big air off jumps or big drops. Others ride to win races. Not Dylan. He rides for the flow. Watching him pick lines down the mountain reminded me more of an artist than an athlete. Playful and seemingly effortless, turn after turn. Little drifts and small tricks, all with his signature style. I was mesmerized.
But his ability to find this flow state didn’t happen overnight. In his own words, “On good days I ride my bike. On bad days I ride my bike until it’s a good day!"
He’s been riding almost every day for his entire life. A naturally gifted athlete that’s honed his craft through thousands of downhill laps, hundreds of falls, long sessions on challenging chutes and fast sequences. All of this work doesn’t come easy. At the core he’s motivated by an insatiable search for the flow state.
Dylan moved to Kamloops to be part of the strong mountain biking community and fell in love with the nearly endless maze of trails and riding opportunities in the area. Although talented at a young age, it wasn’t until he moved south that Dylan hit his stride, being pushed from some of the best. Namely, while in Kamloops, Dylan met Matty, a lifelong resident and similarly talented rider.
Matty Miles has a similar calm temperament (well, until he gets on bike. After that, all bets are off). You’re more likely to hear him howling “Yeeeoooowww!” as he floats downhill, a smile plastered across his face. Matty also rides professionally for Specialized and like Dylan, cares little for winning competitions or ripping downhill at supersonic speeds. Instead, he loves making art on his bike.
Matty is best described as a creative genius (while both riding and behind the camera). He shoots and edits many of the short travel, adventure, and launch videos for Specialized – a passion he picked up as a kid, and never stopped. As we rode together Matty would patiently watch, and later offer small tips and tricks to improve my technique. If I hadn’t of learned before the trip, I would have never guessed he was a professional athlete. Full of compassion, Matty is always out to have a good time, and to make sure others do, too.
Dylan and Matty spend a lot of time together at home, dialing in their style, learning from each other, laughing at each other, and all the while, amazingly, have never become competitive with each other. This part of their friendship spoke volumes to me. Best friends, near the top of their sport, riding for the same company, and not a single bad word to say about each other. Unreal.
After a week of riding together I was blown away by the admiration and respect they hold for each other, for their unique riding styles, and for their shared pursuit of flow.
It made me wonder how much of the flow state transcends the bike and becomes part of the person. I suppose the only way to find out is to spend more time with these two gentlemen.
All photos by Andy Cochrane.
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