Anthony Boussetta insists there’s nothing spectacular about summitting 10 mountain peaks consecutively in a 52-hour mountain bike ride.
You might think that an insane amount of physical preparation is required for such a feat, but Boussetta suggests that it’s almost entirely mental.
“Think that you will do it – that’s the main part,” he said.
A new film called Only a Ride retells Boussetta’s 269-kilometre, 10,200-metre-elevation-gain journey at the beginning of August 2022, just a year after completing the North Shore's Triple-Triple Crown – biking up and down the peaks of Seymour, Grouse and Cypress three times each in one ride. The documentary premiers at the Rio Theatre on Nov. 19 as part of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Directed by North Vancouver-based filmmaker Gordie Rogers, a crew follows Boussetta as he pedals up, rides downhill, hikes, eats, sweats, power naps and smiles his way through the gruelling expedition. The route begins in Squamish, climbing to the top of the Diamond Head trails, before travelling to the Sunshine Coast to carry his bike up Mount Elphinstone, then back to the mainland to hit the North Shore peaks before pedalling to Burnaby Mountain in the sweltering heat, eventually finishing on Mount Burke in Coquitlam and riding down to the water’s edge in Port Moody.
While he was planning the ride, the North Vancouverite admits he had doubts – doubts that he ultimately had to push aside.
“You cannot go into a challenge if you think that you’re gonna fail,” he said. “There’s no point.”
Boussetta says it’s the same with mental health, a theme that plays prominently in the film. “You cannot try to learn and get better if you think you’re a lost cause and you will never make it.”
'A mental health film that’s hiding behind a bike film'
In the year before he attempted the North Shore Triple Crown three times in one ride, Boussetta said he was experiencing a really bad year, “where everything just fell apart.”
In the film, he describes how he suppressed anger. Instead of a tool to work through problems, even mountain biking had become a form of escapism. But Boussetta said completing the Triple-Triple Crown was a shifting point.
“I thought this physically would be impossible, but I’ve done it, so I guess I can just go talk to someone – it’s not that hard,” Boussetta said, reflecting on his previous beliefs that talking to a therapist, or anyone, about his problems was impossible.
It’s these themes about opening up in sport that really drove Rogers to make Only a Ride.
“I like to describe it as a mental health film that’s hiding behind a bike film,” he said. Sure, there’s lots of Boussetta’s awesome ride in the documentary, but it’s also about his story and the struggles he’s working through.
“Mountain biking is not a sport where these topics are discussed very much. So that was a goal, to break down a bit of that barrier and show that it’s OK to be open about these topics and challenges,” Rogers said.
As Rogers and his crew chased their subject along his 10-mountain ride, the director was constantly asking for updates on how Boussetta was doing. But most of the texts he got back read things like, “He’s super happy,” or “He’s doing great.”
“Overall, I was quite impressed with how positive you were,” Rogers said to Boussetta during a Zoom interview. “Even when you had like small road bumps where you were falling asleep or something, you immediately were back on it.”
In spite of everything, Boussetta said he chose the route because it was fun.
“That’s why I was smiling, because I had so much fun doing this,” he said. “Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty stupid idea to go do all this. And I liked it.”