Mountain Bike Trailer Park: The Trail You’re On

Mountain Bike Trailer Park is a regular column written by Uncle Dan that appears monthly on the Dirt Rag Interwebs. He dabbles in a variety of topics including racing, training, trails he loves and not taking himself too seriously, all with a big dash of humor. If you missed his previous columns, check them out here. He also writes a personal blog, which can be found here

I’ve heard talk of “living in the moment.” I’m not sure that I know exactly what that means, but I think it’s related to “being present.” Last week, I was present. I was present in Sedona, Arizona with a bunch of friends for a mountain bike trip. This trip has become an annual tradition for me, a pilgrimage to my holy land.

I’m not the only one who finds the place sacred. In fact, it seems to be a magnet for space cadets of all stripes – tie-dyed hippies, spiritual healers, flavor-of-the-week yoga studios, rejuvenation clinics and churches abound. You can get your chakras aligned, your fortune told, your soul saved and your crystals polished. Or just go stand in one of the many “vortexes” around the area and let the spirit move you. Heck, I even found a place to get my aura photographed.

The point is, folks come here searching for something. And if you’re open to it, you’ll probably find it. But even if you’re not searching, there is something undeniably spiritual about the place. Some people attribute this to a mystical concoction of natural forces, or to spirits, or to holy ghosts. Me, I just think the combination of climate and natural environment are really spectacular and unique. The landscape draws you in.

It is here, in Sedona, that I hear most often the concept of being “in the moment.” As a visitor, that’s not hard to do. You’re on a special trip to a special place. A place that makes you slow down and take note. A place that somehow manages to be rugged, yet serene; dangerous, yet calming; dwarfing, yet uplifting.

Crap, I’m starting to sound like a fruit loop. In any event, it’s just a cool place to be outdoors. On a bike, you can get all up in that outdoors. All. Up. In. It. And cover a lot of ground too. The chunky trail and slick rock keep you focused on the “here and now.” There’s no time to focus on your worries when you’re fighting to stay upright. Maybe there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. In Sedona, when you do stop for a moment, there is always something amazing to see. So, like I said, it’s not hard to be “in the moment.”

At the end of each day, as I regrouped with my friends in the hot tub or around the dinner table, the talk inevitably turned to the same question: “What was your favorite trail today?” This is a tough question for me. Especially in Sedona, but elsewhere too. See, my favorite trail is usually the one I’m on.

That’s not to say it’s always perfect. Not every trail run can be documented on YouTube or worthy of Strava kudos. Sometimes it rains and the trails are slick. Sometimes, there are a couple of elderly hikers picking their way down the middle of a killer downhill. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes you walk.

That doesn’t bother me. If I’m a little slower, there’s probably a reason for that. Or not. If it’s slick, I get dirty. The elderly hikers share a smile and maybe even some conversation if you stop and smile too. Crashing is fine– it means I’m trying. Walking is fine too. What’s at stake, after all? Your pride? Here’s a secret–nobody cares but you.

But really, my favorite trail can’t always be the one I’m on. If that was the case, I wouldn’t need to travel seven states away; I could just ride my hometown trails. Maybe I’m doing “in the moment” wrong. I mean, I need variety. So I research other cool places to ride. I plan a trip. During those times, I’m not in the moment, I’m planning, thinking about the future. Or am I “in the moment” of booking a flight?

And what about the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival? Am I in a “festival moment” when I talk to vendors, ride demo bikes or listen to my friends talk about their day’s adventures and tomorrows plans? Am I having a “blogging moment” right now?

Truth is, I’m not sure what “in the moment” means. My days are filled with moments. Some of them are memorable (for better or worse), most are not; some moments are productive, some are routine and boring, and I will never get any of them back. I have to respond to text messages sometimes. I answer calls from telemarketers. I clean up cat barf. Sometimes I take out the trash while balancing a cup of coffee and my backpack on the way out the door for work. Am I supposed to be in all of those moments too? Or is it okay to sometimes dream of Sedona trails while I’m answering work emails? I don’t know. Shit, I’m confused. I better go get my chakras aligned. And I know just the place.

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