CANMORE – You can break yourself later.
A bold and possibly confusing statement if you have yet to hear about the Chill the Shred initiative started by a couple of Canmore locals looking to ease the burdens at hospitals by asking mountain bikers to not ‘send it’ during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking at how the world was changing, founder of the Chill the Shred initiative Marcus Henry said he knew he wanted to find a way to help, but initially didn’t know how.
“We kept hearing in the news and reading articles about mountain bikers hurting themselves on the trails or on jumps and ending up in the hospital with broken bones or needing surgery – essentially occupying a bed – and we realized that is the root of the problem,” Henry said.
It was that moment, as president and co-founder of the Steedz Enduro MTB team, Henry, who typically encourages mountain bikers to "send it," thought it was time to switch gears on the messaging and encourage people to still enjoy the outdoors without broken bones.
“We wanted to try to keep people out of the hospital and thought, 'what if we created messaging around this and created a movement using the powers of social media and what if we had this reminder, when riding the trails, that maybe now is not the time to be hitting the gaps and jumps,' ” Henry said.
COVID-19 hit Alberta over a month ago with 1,500 positive cases, as of April 10, with 39 reported deaths and 713 people recovered. With hospitals focusing their time and resources on the pandemic that is projected to peak mid-to-late May in the province, according to recent projections from Alberta Health Services, Henry said now is the time to continue focusing on mental health and exercise with caution.
And the slogan Chill the Shred – Save a Bed was born.
Initially focusing on the messaging, Henry explained that the initiative soon grew to a partnership with local business CanSign Inc. offering to make decals with the logo, and Canmore & Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) coordinating payments and orders.
He also realized there would be proceeds and decided to donate to local initiative Hope for Hospitality, a community food card program kick-started by Tourism Canmore Kananaskis.
The goal of the program is to get $100 food gift cards into the hands of hospitality and tourism workers who need it the most. It is set to run from April 1-30 with potential to extend longer as needed.
“It’s a great way to give back while sort of achieving a three-fold incentive,” Henry explained, noting the Chill the Shred focus is to keep people out of the hospital, while still enjoying the trails and giving back to the community.
“Hearing all the articles and advisory and messages from [Alberta officials], we just thought, ‘What can we do?’ You feel so helpless – well, this is a way we can kind of do our part.”
Chill the Shred launched last week with 25 orders in the first two days.
The team hopes the messaging goes national, with the founders open to partnering with other mountain bike organizations across Canada.
“We would like to emphasize, 'be kind to one another, be safe and support local.' Now is the time to show kindness – we are all in this together, so let’s help each other,” Henry said.
Go to camba.ca/chill-the-shred to order the decals.