Ahhhh, home sweet home
Your local trails: they’re the home stadium, your turf. I submit that there are a huge list of things that make your go-to singletrack a very special place indeed. I got to thinking about this when I went out for an after work ride to grab some pictures of my new neighborhood spot. I rolled through at an easy-breezy pace, stopping to capture some images and thinking about how I would describe these trails to my buddies back home.
Come on in
These trails are pretty new to me. I moved to Wisconsin in January (I know, didn’t think that one through) for a new job and it’s taken quite a bit of getting used to. The first bikey thing I did was buy a snow-capable bike to get my ass back into shape after a long winter spell of sloth. After some fitness training and indoor riding that didn’t require the snow to melt I was feeling good and counting the days until the local trails were officially opened for the spring. When the go ahead was given by our trail keeper I was pumped and ready to hit it.
When I say trail keeper I mean the guy who is a full-time paid employee at the company that makes features, clears the brush and fallen trees, changes up the routes seasonally, fights erosion, etc. One of my coworkers asked me if I was enjoying “country club mountain biking.” He’s exactly right, short of a pro rider I can’t think of anyone who has it this good. For lunch I get changed in the locker room, pedal less than 10 minutes up the street to the trailhead, then get rad for an hour. Once that’s done I head back to the office, take a shower, change and lean by bike up against my desk to wait for the next session. How sweet it is…
High road or low?
So anyway, how would I describe these trails to my Philadelphia riding buddies? I’d say they’re a bit like White Clay in Newark, Delaware with the fast, flowy, almost pump-track quality of the David English trail. But the real difference is the man-made features everywhere. White Clay has a compact but very challenging skills section, but my Wisco trails have good stuff like the above all throughout. Plus there’s a double diamond trail with huge gaps, high drops, and wicked speeds if you can clear everything.
Some serious Forest of Endor shit going on
The magic of the local trail dawned on me while I was riding and thinking about this post. It’s the trail you head to if you’ve only got a couple hours after work, or before you have to mow the lawn, or if you’re a little too hung over for an all-day grinder. You know all the routes like the back of your hand, and you can pick and choose depending on whether you want to go balls out or just keep sharp and work up a sweat. The value of knowing the location of every root and rock, where it stays greasy the longest after the rain, or that straight section you know you can pin it on is immeasurable. This is your training ground. There is an uphill switchback that I’m still figuring out how to carry speed through without going wide and losing momentum. There’s a fast downhill section with 7 whoops in a row that I’m now able to blast my way down without a second thought or hesitation. The familiarity you have with your “backyard” lets you build skills, boost confidence, apply laser focus to your technique and have a blast all at the same time.
Haven’t mastered this one yet…
So get out to your local dirt! If you can pedal in from home it’s all the better. No loading the car, backing over the front wheel you forgot to put in the trunk, leaving your shoes at home, or getting stuck in traffic and running out of light. Plus it’s a built-in warmup. No matter where they are, your go-to trails provide fun, features, fitness and the chance to keep your game tight. The more you ride them, the more severe the smackdown you can put on your out-of-town buddies when they come to visit.
Tell us about your local go-to trail ride!