Chapters

Have Dirt, Will Travel


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Have Dirt, Will Travel Written By Mark Sirek, Photos By Scott Haraldson

Disrupting the Space-Time Continuum

The locals can hear it: in the distance, a low rumbling thunder fast approaching. As the clamor nears, they steel themselves. They’ve spotted hazy figures on the horizon. They’ll soon learn that these new strangers in town aren’t here to be “tourists.” They’re here to discover.

Any cyclist knows that to make a good trip great you gotta skip over all the bubblegum, especially if you’re trying to find out what really makes a place (and its locals) tick. Your search party wants to hunt down the best in food, beer, swimming spots, and, fingers crossed, secret dirt. From experience, you know that the real Board of Tourism—anywhere you go—is the local bike shop.

But there are formalities to follow. In preparation for meeting this local bike shop tribe, you have wisely grabbed a premier six-pack from your faraway land. This will be used as both trade and as an offering of peace and respect. “Please install and enjoy these cold pork chops as a gesture of goodwill. Let us glorify the burritos of this place, and allow us the honor of ripping your trails with you.”

First out of the gate: CAMARADERIE. The offering meets their approval, opening the floodgates for the inside intel that will provide you with the much desired next-level richness throughout your stay.

After your new friends close up the shop at the end of the day, you meet them at their watering hole for a little history and a lot of who’s who. Just as you suspected, the culture here is outstanding, and your trip takes on a whole new glow. The bartenders, baristas, and cooks you meet are instantly added to the cast of characters that make this adventure legendary.

Next up: ACCESSIBILITY. You’re given an invitation to ride some of the never-even-know-it-was-there, locals-only singletrack. The speed and cut of the trails reveal much about the skill level of your colleagues. In a momentary overdose of unbridled enthusiasm, you try to match their speed and end up hosting a yard sale. Sure, you’ll be a little sore tomorrow, but there’s mutual appreciation for what the locals can ride and for how hard you tried. Giving foreign soil the onions is, after all, what you go on these road trips for. By the end of the day, you’ll be cleaning those sections with the best of ‘em.

As you bike back to your temporary quarters, a lot of stuff floods into your domepiece. It comes quick. It feels overwhelming and…perfect. When you ride your mountain bike some place amazing, and you get to really live IN that place with its top-tier ambassadors as your guides, the smoking circuit boards in your pleasure center work overtime. Every great adventure is made up of hundreds of experiences, and part of the rush is trying to give each of them the attention they deserve. Challenge accepted.