Have you seen the picture of Matt Hunter railing the berm? His body parallel to the trail seemingly mere inches from the earth? A smile on his face and perfectly balanced with the headline “Think This Image Is Fake?” as his arm skims the ground beneath him.
The myth buster video is impressive and I watch in awe. The perfection, flawless riding, the berm, the dirt.
“It’s just dirt” said a woman when arguing trail conditions with a local mountain biker. Speechless for a moment, stunned at the ignorance, dumbfounded at the lack of respect given to the trail, the mountain biker didn’t know what to say, and then, of course had an over-abundance of knowledge to impart. Fortunately, or not, they were related and the ensuing argument did not further drive a wedge between the two, but enlightened the biker to the sad reality as they just shook their heads at one another and went their separate ways, one on horseback and the other on his own trusty steed, his bike.
Amazing discovery of sandy stone on the re-route at the Tree Farm. Baby trails need lots of TLC.
We call it hero dirt, Jesus soil, the holy trail.
There is reverence to the path we take. Finding flow, sculpting a jump, creating, raking, pruning, replanting, draining, and we visualize. And the vision becomes tangible, hike-able, ride-able, and we watch as baby ferns grow and pine needles drop, and deer tracks decorate a newly designed section or re-route.
There is pride and love and appreciation for the land, the terrain, the big rock to be used as a feature, the newly dug drainage channel, the rainbow tree that is almost too low to ride beneath. We see potential and possibility.
And we whisper.
Speak in hushed tones so as to keep it safe while we nurture and prepare it for use. How do we protect it from interlopers, yet open it to those who will appreciate its beauty and maintain and perfect the new trail’s imperfections? We merely hope to make others aware of the connection, give them opportunity to embrace it, and share in the adventure that is found in the woods, riding, and working the trail.
Different users have differing visions and many who ride and hike trails see with eyes wide open. Closer to the earth one often sees more clearly the litter, erosion, and problems that can occur if the land is not cared for properly.
One also recognizes the work that needs to be done – the grading, the spring cleaning before opening day, the importance of not just snapping off branches to clear a path, but the significance of removing them from the trail itself. Care is taken and the hallowed forest ground becomes blessed by the sweat of trail builders and other stewards of the land.
There is gratitude to those who have gone before us and prepared the way and a shout out to the others who now join in as we play our part on local trails. The camaraderie, lasting friendships, stories, and the satisfaction of being part of the difference make the experience what it is.
It is not just the ride it is the interconnectedness of the journey that makes us bikers who we are!
As Chief Seattle said, “…the Earth does not belong to man – man belongs to the Earth…All things are connected…Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it…”
See you on the trails!