MTBTP: My Local Trail – A Poem

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.  


My local trail

This trail is mine.

Thousands of others have ridden it.

They sense, I presume, the same

Stubborn, scrappy woods; earth, peat, water, wind, growth and rot, and the crush of all of it beneath their wheels

But not like me.

The cascade of the earth’s touch through the rubber

Through my feet and calves and thighs and back and palms and shoulders and teeth

Is mine alone, and so too, my reaction

I flinch, passing where I have stumbled, fallen before.

My lizard rides along.

He reminds me of my failures and

He screams self-doubt and promises fresh failure and

He grabs my brakes and stiffens my muscles and

He punishes me for failure to obey with ice water and tremors.

My baggage, brought unwillingly to the trail, weighs me down.

Responsibility for the things that have happened to me, to those I love

And the wounds of disappointments, some fresh

The drone of things yet to be done, misting sadness, or intoxicating pride, dizzy me and blur the trail.

My monkey rides along too, raging against his bars.

He clings to me, digging his heels in for speed and

Sings a loud monkey song when he gets it and

Lifts my tires off the dirt, howling when they touch down again and

Rewards me with a dopamine shot.

This is my trail and I have ridden it a thousand times before

I will ride it a thousand more.

Each root, each bend familiar, anticipated

But not always overcome.

Ordinary, known hazards

With a shove, a fresh bruise, dirt in my teeth, a ringing in my ears,

Remind me that they can still bring me to ground
,
That familiarity is not the same as control.

This is my trail

But you will not see it in my Facebook feed.

It’s not RAD

This trail is real. It’s private.

It’s weekdays, it’s between errands, it’s for dialing in, it’s for tuning out, it’s for sickness and in health, it’s there without forethought or planning or fanfare or festivals

Around as long as I can remember, around as long as mountain bikes

Repaired, rerouted, built up, ridden in

I’m not the first to ride it and I won’t be the last, but I ride it and it’s mine alone,

I ride it because it’s there, because I must, because it’s what I do.

This is my trail

And I expect I’ll ride it as long as I’m able.

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