Monday, January 16, 2017

Misty Mountain Bike Hop

I finally figured out what my problem is.  Well, one of them.  Take this with a grain of salt; it's going to sound like I'm bragging.  But this is a serious neurological analysis.

It's been hard for me to motivate myself to get out and hike, or ride, and even get back into climbing.  Inspiration lurks in the shadows; elusive and tantalizing.

The problem is I’ve been kicking around this piece of ground that’s my hometown and the region TOO MUCH.  And it's not even that I've simply visited all the trails in the area, ridden all the roads, explored all of the nooks and crannies...I've visited them repeatedly in most cases...not really EVERY lost and forgotten place, but maybe they're just all starting to look the same.

Sooooo boring!

It seems like there's little out there to pique my interest.  A lot of my adventures are going through the motions.  I have to go further, be out longer, get deeper into the bush while getting whacked, and then I'm still just around the corner from the farthest point I had been before.

The novelty has expired.  I have to wrack my brain so much harder to dazzle myself.  I have made every exciting thing mundane.

This realization began to coalesce a few months ago.  I started seeing that most Instagram posts from average folks (I count myself as one) are of adventures much like mine, but maybe with more vigor and heft.  I could also see that a lot of those adventuring shots were novel to the subjects, shooters, and the peanut galleries.  What was the fundamental difference? I asked myself.  

The shine has worn off for me.  My outings are reruns and reenactments of my glory days.  Or they're hopeful rehearsals for bigger future expeditions. I think the solution to my conundrum is to recalibrate.  This is a mental fuse blown is all.

One mistake I've made over the past handful of years is keeping a driven pace.  I want to see more and I want to get in better shape for some nebulous athletic performance.  That, combined with my inattentive neurology, has kept me running and running to catch up with the sunning.

This past Saturday factors combined to make for a truly enjoyable experience.  More to support my theory the first half of my planned ride was a new place for me.  There was a little intrigue involved.  I also decided to practice my hand at velosexual pretentiousness.  I took my camp stove, coffee cup, and plans to sit on some dreamy overlook sipping local roasted, freshly ground, fair trade coffee.  I opted to leave the hammock at home.  The forecast was for rain.

I’m not going to go into fine detail about the beginning of my day. Let’s suffice it to say I rode past a number of “Authorized Personnel Only” and “No Trespassing” signs.  Once the legal gauntlet had been run I was rolling along a misty ridge through National Forest.  Straight up and down shadows blurred by as I cranked out the old road.  Winter bone trees were wrapped in mist and the black and white tunnel walls obscured the far vistas I knew were not far off.

The Pine Mountain rolled over everything.  Wet logs, thick leaves, hints of views that might be.  Despite lots of recent rain and soggy trees all around the road was solid.  Gravel under a few autumns leaves made for a solid but cush surface.  My GPS showed almost three miles when I finally came to the end.

The end of "trail" was a small clearing bounded by stunted pines.  I hiked down to an overlook that’s obvious few people visit in a given year.  I set up the backpacking stove on bare, damp rock and did a quick pour over.  As I waited for the water to heat up I watched mist flow slowly u the valley like a hundred year flood.  After a while a big fog wave piled up and over the ridge and visibility went to zilch.  Was it raining or just fogging?

Despite the damp and the chill I was comfortable in my layers as I sat on the rock.  I sipped coffee and enjoyed to quiet and the solitude.  So what if I was living the hipster dream?  It was comforting and restorative to hang on that rock for a bit.  


On the ride out I dreaded getting caught on the backside of the warning signs.  But I was able to get back to the car no problem.  I drove a short distance down the road and parked at a legal and legit forest road.  The second leg of my adventure involved riding out two user created singletrack trails on parallel ridges.  The two together equaled six miles of out and back bringing my daily mileage to eleven.  I’ve ridden these ridges infrequently for years.  They suffer from regular deadfall as the prevailing winds whip across the flat ridges and uproot large hardwoods rooted in shallow soil.  But even still, there were few mandatory off bike moments and I had a great ride in the continuing fog.

Coming and going on Tarr Ridge

Eventually I returned home and sat relaxing with some warm food and hot chocolate. While my body was home in the recliner my mind lingered in the mist out on that ridge. For a brief moment I experienced a satisfaction I rarely get to enjoy.  I was content and I tried to hold onto that warm feeling for as long as I could.  Even as I write this the memory of Saturday gives me an abiding sense of fulfillment. 

And so, what I learned from all of this is that I need to be a little more intentional and creative.  I need to be willing to stop and take in the set pieces of my ongoing adventures and always remember to enjoy the ride without being so hyper focused on the finish line.  I know there are plenty of inspirational everyday adventures waiting out there for me.  I know I can find them and capitalize on the amazing landscape I have in my backyard. 


  1. Man that sounds like a nice trip. Those are some of my favorite moments when I'm out by myself just enjoying nature. I'm struggling too with my local routes. Always looking for something new. Explored some new gravel roads in Owen and Henry county last weekend in the Corolla. Should make for a good ride in the future.

    1. Yeah, and sometimes the weather makes a novel experience. The fog totally enhanced my experience. I've had some amazing rides, hikes, and runs in the rain and snow that would otherwise have been just the same old same old.