When I moved to my new cabin, I was excited. There's a long list of obvious reasons. But it wasn't this list that had me giddy, it was knowing I had a whole new maze (literally) of trails to ride and explore and learn and photograph.
I've just finally, somewhat, figured out the maze and am usually now able to ride my Beargrease to and from work on one direct path via the winter trails. However, this is dependent on many things like how early in the morning it is, how cold, how dark, etc. In turn, this determines my level of conscious attention or how far off in bike-trip dreamland I am (especially on the way home from work). Some days my path is all but direct.
In some ways, I feel it is subconsciously intentional that I get confused at the sixth acute angle trail junction and which tree is the one that I am 'supposed to turn by’, for it is these days that reward the richest on-bike experiences. I don't remember that day when the trail was okay, the light was flat, I didn't bring my camera, and I got somewhere in the time I figured it would probably take. It’s the contrary, actually.
Recently, I've gotten lost more times than I could honestly say with any sort of truthful accuracy. I don't mind this; I kind of prefer it. When I look at a joining trail or intersection, I first wonder where it leads and then if I should take it. The obvious answer brings a deviation to my handlebars and a quickening cadence. Sometimes, I dead end and have to turn around and ride back, completely clueless of where I am, and then have to go back to where I turned and take another trail that leads somewhere else unknown. Other times, I'm led to another (and another and another…) trail junction and I get to keep making the same decision, or, deviation, leading me farther from the comfort of a known trail and farther into the adventure zone, exploring the unknown.
These are the rides I remember and it is here that I draw the trails on my mental map, connecting to the land and feeling the unity of the landscape, the trail, and the bike.
'Turn left at the tree.' What tree? It's a forest! Exactly. Go get lost. Explore.
When you're out there a little longer than you expected, you just might get to see some things you didn't expect to, as well.
Fresh tracks to you all,
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Josh Spice bought his first real bike in 2010. A month in, still green and lustful, he rode a 100-mile route along a snowy mountain trail, solo and self-supported, in just over 24 hours. Then he got a fatbike and found himself wide-eyed with a new sense of vision; the giant map of Alaska was his canvas, and his art the expression of adventure by bike. joshspice.com