Just back from a lunch session at our awesome dirt jumps. In less than thirty minutes I managed some lap time at the pump track, and got the adrenaline flowing on the beginner line. My 40 year old back disapproves almost as much as my atrophied voice of maturity doubts my judgment, but my 18 year old alter ego loves me even though he thinks I am a sissy for staying on the beginner line. “Go bigger”, he eggs me on, “It’s easy, just don’t case the front wheel”. Sounds easy, and reminds me of the conversations I’ve had with the local middle school kids that rip the pro line on decrepit Wal-Mart bmx bikes. They clean the expert line and then ask me why I’m not, ” You have that awesome bike”, they say, ” Man if I had that I’d be ripping that shit”. What ever ego I had was shattered that day by a 12 year old gromling in a school of gromlings….like fish, or piranhas, once they smell blood there is no hope. And by the way my bike is a cobbled together machine, built from the last remaining parts of several ground down mountain bikes, but to these kids it is a Porsche. They don’t even wear helmets. The little rats. Luckily, I love rats.
Not to long ago fellow mechanic and cycling Maestro, Tyson Swasey organized a session at the jumps. Lots of folks showed up and threw down. The middle school kids were there killing it. Monty aka “Pit Boss” was down there between the jump lines taking photos of the riders young and old. Wendy our resident pro gave out tips and helmets, earning street cred in the eyes of the rat-gromling-rippers. I have personally noticed an increase in boys with helmets on at the jumps since then. It was evening, the perfect temperature, the cliffs were glowing red. We all were encouraging and giving praise when radness happened. I graduated from the beginner line that evening and cleaned the intermediate. I had reached a goal and shared in the general all around stoke. At the end of that line the kids were there cheering me on. “Feels good doesn’t it”, one of them said to me in a wise and knowing manner. I couldn’t have agreed more and as I pedaled back to the top of the lines I realized there is a time and a place for everything, including ignoring the, “what if I kill myself”, and letting the kid inside reign supreme, after all the jumps are no country for old men.
I don’t get out of town much. I mean I do live in Moab and over the last ten years of riding, boating, and skiing the La Sal mountains I still have only scratched the surface of what there is to do here. I am oldish and married, I have kids, and well they tie you down a bit, siphon off the unpaid bike vacation fund and yet I am luckier than most because I live here, and possibly luckier than you. Still, I get the itch and dream of riding in the Alpine wonderlands of Colorado or rolling in to the nar of Sedona. I want to ride Gooseberry Mesa, and visit the holy lands of Canada. I am craving the not knowing what’s around the next corner, the smell of different air, and the sound of different rocks as my tires kick ‘em high in the air. I want to be the guy coming into a local shop somewhere else asking for beta or needing repair. I want to say….” I was just riding along when….” You get the picture.
Recently I have had several mini-weekends riding elsewhere. I didn’t ride the best trails or the hardest trails but they were good, new, and just what I needed. On trail I heard different birds, smelled new dirt….found out whats around those corners on Western Rim near Fruita, went on a treasure hunt on sublime single track in the hidden forks of the Wasatch and found reward with a soak in some natural hot springs. And now, like most people, I want more of that mysterious, new single track. I mean how can I be faithful to one with out being unfaithful to all the others? Not only have I rediscovered discovery itself but I have also regained an appreciation for my home trails…I miss them. I want to get on Ahabs and Porky as soon as possible. I crave the adrenaline those trails provide. They are home.
Now back to work, those weekends behind me, I see customers come into the shop from all over the world and they are excited, sun burnt, maybe bleeding, but almost always, they are smiling and I realize we are a tribe of sorts, always chasing the trail on the other side of the horizon because that’s what’s best about Mountain bikes….they take you places.