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New book explores late author’s desire to grow bikepacking

"Even if people didn’t know Ryan or his story – every time someone goes out on one of these routes they are sort of carrying on Ryan’s story and his spirit of adventure.”

CANMORE – Backcountry riders rejoice.

There is a newly published creed for those looking to head into the backcountry for multi-day trips on two wheels, Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies.

The guidebook was first started by Ryan Correy, one of Canada’s most accomplished adventure cyclists, in 2016. After finishing the first draft of the book, Correy lost his battle against cancer in April 2018.

“He was out scouting the final route for his book when he started to feel sick,” said Correy’s widow Sarah Hornby. “Even during his sickness and during chemo, this book was still his top priority, so he worked through all of it to make sure the publisher had a copy in hand before he passed.”

Hornby helped to finish the book, which was published by Rocky Mountain Books (RMB) earlier this month.

“I did my best to help out where I could. It’s a little bittersweet in a way,” said Hornby. “It’s closure on what was a really important project for Ryan and knowing that with RMB we made his dream a reality.”

“It’s also a bit of a legacy project. Even if people didn’t know Ryan or his story – every time someone goes out on one of these routes they are sort of carrying on Ryan’s story and his spirit of adventure.”

Having cycled all 10 of Correy’s routes featured in the book in 2019, which was documented in the short film Choosing to Live, Hornby helped to edit and sift through, for accuracy, all of the routes and directional cues.

Hornby said Correy was a tireless promoter of cycling and outdoor adventures, and this book was the perfect way to share his passion to help grow the community of bikepacking.

“This book was a culmination of all of his experiences on bikes," she said. "Bikepacking really connected with him as that true passion that he went back to time-and-time again. He was eager to share with people the same experiences he had. This was his way of doing it.”

“He liked the primal aspect of it. For him, it was about going deep into the backcountry without any services and really relying on his own experience and intuition to find new places and connect dots on the map.”

The guidebook features 10 routes in Waterton, Kananaskis, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper that were meticulously crafted by Correy.

Correy’s dedication is evident throughout the book, something Michael McCoy, the father of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the U.S. and author, said is vital for those who want to write a guidebook.

The routes take riders on beginner, intermediate and expert journeys. The book is complete with multi-day routes with directional cues, detailed maps, a bikepacking 101 section and personal stories.

“I have quite a bit of experience putting together a guidebook and creating new routes, so I knew exactly what he was getting into. There is so much more work that goes into a guidebook than people realize,” said McCoy, who authored the forward in Correy’s book.

“I know all the work Ryan put into this book and I know how proud he would be to hold it in his hands. I was honoured when he asked me three years ago to write the forward. I hope someday soon to be able to cycle some of the routes.”

For Hornby, the Castle route stands out as one of her favourites in the book.

“You go down through Waterton and the Castle area in southern Alberta. It is so stunningly beautiful, it was the perfect amount of challenge for me and ticked all the boxes. I definitely want to get out and do it again.”

Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies is available at Café Books in Canmore and online from the Rocky Mountain Books website.