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.