A burrito bigger than two of my stomachs and a beer were sitting in my gut as I lay awake in a tent on harder than hard ground. The moon was a few days past full, lighting up the campsite enough to make it not quite night. Twice, a Kentucky chupacabra, or maybe it was an owl, screamed out in dream time to keep my already sleep-deprived body from getting any decent rest. An all day ride was on schedule for the morning.
Why do we take days off of work and leave loved ones behind to ride bikes on trails through trees for hours on end? When some say “as long as you’re having fun out there…,” do they ever stop to consider how “fun” might be defined? Is it fun to scratch-up and scrape one’s legs and arms on ungroomed backcountry trails? Are rock gardens that can break a bone if traversing them goes awry fun? How about a lung-busting short spit of climb that burns your legs like slow flowing lava?
I can think of a many things that are more fun than mountain biking all day long. A cookout with friends and a grill filled with animal muscle and a cooler of beer and a few bottles of wine sitting on the tabletops is fun. An afternoon body surfing in Carolina waves is fun. A game of wiffle ball with little cousins and nephews is fun.
Okay, yes, mountain biking has its fun too. Moments of fun, there are, I’ll suggest. There’s the low shoulder lean around the natural berm. A flat rock to launch off of and catch some slight air is fun. The downhill that winds on and on and allows us to find fleeting zen is a smiler.
We go not only for the moments of fun. We go to get away and leave behind the controls we place on ourselves, to push our bodies to physical-ability levels previously unknown to ourselves, to lose ourselves where geographically we can be found only by pulling out the map, and to find ourselves somewhere between where our egos teeter on the fence of “I am somebody” and “I am nobody out here in this bigness.”
It may not always be fun when pedaling, but it’s always fun when we finish up and sit back and grub and recall the ride, other previous rides, rides not yet pedaled.
Sheltowee was fun. I’d go back, for sure.