Like any recreational activity we pursue, we mountain bike because it’s fun. Sure, mountain biking is great exercise, but so is running, something a lot of hard core cyclists really don’t care to do. For many of us who are “really into it,” mountain biking offers more than just the unadulterated hedonism of “fun.” It offers us an opportunity to clear our minds of all that noise and “be one with the ride.”
If you’re thinking of that deadline at work, the fight you had with your significant other, or why junior is failing chemistry as you approach that rock garden, things may end badly. However, the ride magically melts away all those distractions and rather than feeling the weight of the world, one is free to experience the joy of being. This is when we tap into the spiritual side of mountain biking. The perfect ride is simple, yet complete, much like a heartfelt haiku. So, in the spirit of Zen and the art of mountain biking, here are 11 sets of 17 syllables inspired by my best rides.
Left to right to left
In and out of the drainage
Shred the Kessel Run
On my second Fruita trip, I discovered the magic of the Kessel Run. This “bobsled run for bikes” is a perfect example of a trail where one can just get into the flow and focus on nothing but each coming turn.
My lungs are screaming
Scenery goes forever
The crest is epic!
The first two things most people marvel over on the Crest are the altitude and the scenery. Over the course of its 35 miles, the Monarch Crest will throw a little of everything at you. If your mind is clear and your attitude flexible, you may have an experience beyond what language can describe, but the overused word “epic” comes close.
Rocks, drops, thrills and spills
City open space preserved
Bring armor today
In Colorado Springs, we are blessed to have the 750-acre Palmer Park with 20+ miles of singletrack right in the middle of the city. What makes this park truly special is the variety, concentration, and intensity of the technical challenge. This is the place that convinced me to buy body armor.
Bright shimmering gold
I am infinitely blessed
By the autumn leaves
Another one of the glories of living in Colorado (or various other western states) is seeing the aspens in fall. While the aspens don’t give the range of color found in the maples of New England, there’s something special about that shade of gold, especially when the sun catches it at just the right angle. On this day, I was riding an otherwise unimpressive route, but the aspens captivated me throughout.
harbor Ice Caves in August
before final plunge
The Big Snowy Mountains Loop in Central Montana has it all in terms of what’s under your knobbies–a huge climb, excellent ridgetop riding, incredible scenery and a world-class descent, all on first-rate singletrack. But the unique thing that truly sets this trail apart is the amazing ice cave that survives year-round.
My Big Sky country
Expansive, yet intimate
Oh, how I miss you!
This one came to me, not while riding, but rather while flying. A few years after leaving Montana, I had occasion to fly back. While passing over the Tobacco Root Mountains where I had once ridden, I looked down and saw the high alpine ridges and lakes I used to frequent and I was struck with the pang of loss. These are special mountains that achieve the perfect paradox of giving you that “BIg Sky” feel while at the same time cradling you in a very personal way.
Up, down, round and round
pinion, juniper and rock
My favorite playground!
As of this writing, I’ve ridden over 320 distinct trails according to the Singletracks database. For me, Gooseberry Mesa is #1. If you’ve been there, you know–if not, you must make the time to go.
“What exquisite grip
All angles are possibe
Riding slickrock rocks!”
While it may not be at the top of everybody’s list today like it was in the past, Slickrock is still the most hyped, most well-known mountain bike in the world. It may have fallen to some degree given that it is a one-trick pony, but what a great trick it is!
Dodging cow pies at warp speed,
Feel the prairie breeze
Mountain biking in North Dakota? Yep! Of course this is cattle country and the BLM leases much of the route to ranchers, so you’re not completely alone in this remote territory. Even with the land mines, the Maah Daah Hey is a wicked good ride.
This one kind of speaks for itself.
To poach or not poach
I wrestle with my conscience
Fun denied once more
And to finish: we don’t generally think of a haiku as an opportunity to be punny (that is usually reserved for limericks), but this one seemed so obvious to me . . .
It had to be said;
The Yeti Five-Seven-Five
is Haiku on wheels