Riding for Ryan Correy
Remembering the biggest force in Canadian bikepacking
There are a few suits and ties scattered throughout 200 people gathered at the Canmore Nordic Centre, but they’re exceptions. Most people are clad, head to toe, in rain jackets, cycling tights and spd shoes with neoprene covers. It’s May 31 and near freezing inside the tent, but it’s even worse outside. A cold rain falls relentlessly and low hanging cloud obscures all views of the Canadian Rockies. Rows of bikes, most laden with frame bags and oversize seat packs, await those inside. Even the location is symbolic; we’ve gathered at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin finish line, where, less than a year ago, Ryan Correy rode to victory. Within hours of crossing that finish line, Correy’s worst fears were confirmed. “Going into the race, we had a sense that I might have cancer,” said Correy, speaking in an interview in March. “I could hold a position on my bike, but I was in a lot of pain. I finished, and then crawled into the fetal position until the award ceremony.” Diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, Correy was soon battling for his life. After a nine-month fight, he passed away on April 27. He was 35 years old. During the celebration of his life, guests share their stories of Corry’s influence and inspiration. Then, everyone files outside toward their bicycles. Sarah Hornby, Correy’s wife, leads a short memorial ride around the Nordic Centre. It seems a fitting farewell for somebody who had accomplished so much on his bicycle. “I often reminisce about biking,” Correy had admitted. “I’ve done so much with the limited time I’ve had, so I don’t have any regrets with bike-related goals. I can’t even fathom how I put it all together.” His accomplishments are impressive. To raise money for different charities, he circumnavigated North America and rode the Pan-american Highway, from Purdue Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina. He raced, too, becoming the youngest Canadian to finish the Race Across America, which is said to be the world’s hardest road race. Burnt-out from road cycling, he switched to mountain bikes and immediately started racing. He qualified for a Canadian national team project, racing the 2011 marathon world championship in Italy. He twice raced Tour Divide, the self-supported mountain bike race along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Alta., to Antelope Wells, N.M. After finishing second in the 24 Hours of Adrenalin in 2016, Correy returned to win the event in summer 2017, taking the lead on the event’s final lap. Perhaps more than any other accomplishment, the Tour Divide stuck with Correy and ignited his passion for bikepacking, which would define the final years of his life. He and Hornby ran a tour company together, guiding aspiring bikepackers along the Tour Divide route, for three years. Correy longed to centralize the conversation about bikepacking in Canada. He founded Bikepack Canada, launched its website and announced the first-ever Canada Bikepack Summit. When treatment options wore thin, Correy took the opportunity to reflect on his accomplishments and consider the legacy he’d leave behind. “My cycling-related goal,” he said,” “would be to have Bikepack Canada continue. I would love to see it continue. It’s so much about the community. I never want it to fade into memory.” At the end of the memorial ride, it feels like all who have pedalled their bikes in his memory are vowing to not only keep riding, but to continue to grow the Canadian bikepack community. Correy is sure to continue inspiring future adventures. His final major writing project, a guidebook called Bike packing in the canadian rockies, is currently rolling out.
“Perhaps more than any other accomplishment, the Tour Divide stuck with Correy and ignited his passion for bikepacking, which would define the final years of his life.”