We visited Cory Wallace in the western highlands of Guatemala as he prepared for the El Reto Stage race, in part to dive into the essence of his being, but also to explore how a nomadic lifestyle can suit a top-tier athlete.
Rider: Cory Wallace
Film by: Stirl and Rae Media Hous
Additional Partners: Kona Bicycles
a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.
Two-time Canadian XC Marathon winner and four-time 24hr World Champion, Cory Wallace has spent the last 16 years travelling around the world in a modern-day nomadic lifestyle, competing in international races and immersing himself in cultures far from his hometown of Jasper, Alberta. Having grown up fishing, camping and playing hockey at the local ice rink, Cory has since culminated a lifetime of adventures for himself, exploring Mongolia to Nepal, Australia to Italy, and everywhere in between, all the while racing at the highest level.
In mid-February Cory found himself back in Guatemala, preparing to race the El Reto, a four-day stage event in the heart of the Central American nation. In the weeks leading up to the race, Cory was joined by Matt Clark of Stirl and Rae Media Haus deep in the Country's western highlands to dive into the essence of Cory's being, and his path to creating his own unique way of life.
“You never know how long the athlete career is going to last, so I try to take advantage of it every year to the max, travelling around, hitting the coolest places I could find. I thought I’d do this until I was about 30 years old and move on, but the lifestyle just intrigued me, and I still want to get deeper and deeper into the cultures that I go to.”
“When I was 23 I was coming off a couple of years just tree planting and going to school, I wanted to get back into cycling and wanted to do a big block to get the system where I needed it to be, so I thought let's just go to the south tip of Chile and ride north for two months. All you do is sleep, eat and ride. No distractions. Nice weather, it’s an adventure, meet new people. And, I mean I was out of my comfort zone for most of the trip but that’s what ignited me back into this scene and inspired me to chase this dream for the last 15 years."
“The first trip over there it’s a big shock from North American lifestyle where everything is very organized and proper and somewhat secure. Over here, you never know what’s going to happen. The first time you come here, you’re a little bit nervous,a little bit uncomfortable, you hear a lot in the news that Guatemala’s not that safe, but when you get here and experience it, it’s totally fine. Just as safe as any big city back home.”
“I've found that the further you get off the beaten path, the nicer the people are.”
“Part of my love of travelling to these far-off lands is to disconnect, and reconnect with the local people to see what’s really going on. I find back home it’s easy to just locked into the same routines - televisions are everywhere, cell phones, computers, it’s easy to get distracted back home. But when I come travelling to countries like Guatemala it’s just so interesting, every day, every ride, that when you’re out there you just want to experience it.”
“Keeping up with the Jones' was a big thing when you get out of highschool, you know go to university, get the job, build the house, car blah blah blah. But I hopped on a bike at an early age and I’ve just kept following this simple life. I’ve enjoyed the experiences and adventures, and every day is a surprise when you’re overseas.
When I go back home I see that the Jones' have left me in the dust, and I’m definitely not keeping up with them, but to me that doesn’t really matter when there’s a new mountain to climb, a new trail to check out, new people to meet. The lifestyle is just something that I won’t be able to give up I don’t think.
In the end I’ll always choose life experience over the big house and white picket fence."