Trials on the Trail of Life

Riding along a gnarly backwoods mountain bike trail is like a small slice of Life itself. Also like Life, the trail is full of pain.

Farlow Gap, Pisgah Forest (photo by kamoteus)

Riding along a gnarly backwoods trail is like a small slice of Life itself. It’s
full of mystery and excitement, love and joy, trials and triumphs. Logs mastered,
jumps landed, obstacles overcome. Loving the trip you’re on, and the folks you
travel it with. Friends. Family. Loved ones of all stripes. A Path well-envisioned.

Also like Life, the trail is full of pain. Creeks uncrossed. Unexpected slap downs.
Soul-crushing climbs. They leave you bewildered, wounded inside and out.
“Was it my fault?” you wonder. “Am I being punished?” Or did the Trail serve up
all that pain to serve some higher purpose? To teach us lessons both spoken and
silent. On loss and heartache. On addiction, and suffering.

A Boy and His Mom on Dupont Slickrock

The pain has a purpose. It points out – in a hard, no-bullshit kind of way – what we
did wrong. Failure to pay proper attention, whether riding singletrack or following
Life’s Trail, ultimately leads to great pain. Some scars will never fade. Maybe
they hurt a little less each year, but they never really go away. Nor should they,
because you need a reminder of what brought you to such pain.

But the finest of memories, those trips along the Trail with the ones you care for,
they never fade either. Like Thomas buzzing our back tires, riding his bike with a
cape around his neck, faking a crash if he got too tired. The night rides at Devil’s
Ridge with pollen thick as snow in our headlights. Stream-jumping, wheel-
breaking, silly, happy son of ours, eating cereal with a ladle and dyeing his hair
with Kool-Aid.

So the crashes, they’re no freaking fun, no sir. But they leave you with only two
choices: to lay in the dirt, wallowing in your pain, until something else runs you
over. Or you pick yourself up, and you brush off some of the dirt and blood,
and wipe away the worst of the tears. And you ride through the pain, because it
reminds you that there are adventures and joys on the Trail ahead, just like there
were behind you.

Ride in peace, Thomas, our Buzzy Boy. Just follow the Trail, and wait for us up at
the bend.

The Last Ride of the Day

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