Photo by Jordan Manley. Story by Mike Berard
In 2003, North Vancouver professional freerider Darren Butler clipped his bar taking off on a monster Kamloops step-down while filming for the television show Drop In. He suffered a career-ending injury. These days, Butler has segued his experience into a successful guiding operation on the North Shore. Here are a few ways he stayed on the bike and out of the pity party.
His born-and-bred Prairie Boy tenacity. After landing short, feet-first on a 26-foot gap, Butler's body compressed so hard his knees bruised his shoulders. He smashed his left heel into 15 pieces and his left into 8. He stayed lucid enough to run his own rescue. "I grew up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and come from a family of hardworking farmers and I played high-level hockey," says Butler. "Competitive hockey in the prairies will toughen anyone up."
Only on the North Shore. While in the hospital, Butler was stationed across the hallway from none other than Wade Simmons, who was sidelined with a broken femur himself. Simmons and Butler leaned on each other frequently during their painful recoveries.
Strong Like Wife. Butler's wife and now business partner Kelli Sherbinin played a huge role in his recovery, even while her own mother was suffering from a motorcycle accident. "She kept me honest, made me work my ass off and kept me smiling." Butler says.
Doctor's trailside manner. The surgeon who handled the majority of Butler's injuries also happens to be a bit of a maverick himself. Dr. James Dunwoody has his helicopter pilot's license and has practiced medicine in war-torn areas. Together, they eventually got Butler back on his bike. "It as three years until I could say I was 100% again."
Premium fuel only. "I've tried ankle braces, drugs, physiotherapy…I've tried everything. But diet is important. Our bodies are engines and we need good fuel, so hydration is super important and so are fruits and vegetables. I'm not a big fan of painkillers—there's been time when I do reach out for assistance but I've just tried to concentrate on strengthening my body."
For the love of wheels. Endless Biking (Butler's North Shore-based guiding business) is a champion for education, trail advocacy and a positive outlook on the sport. "Riding bikes is a very powerful thing, with a very positive impact on your life," he says. "We believe many of life's solutions can be traced back to riding and want to share that."
Positivity first. After a nine-hour surgery and countless return trips to the hospital, Butler has chosen to stay focused on the sunny side of the experience. "I’ve learned that the universe will never throw you anything you can’t handle. I've simply seen this challenge as an opportunity for growth."