Chapters

Have Dirt, Will Travel


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

You and Your Dirty Thoughts

Once the wheels finally start turning on an MTB vacation, the dialogue in your head reminds you why you’re addicted to these crusades. Maybe you’re still a trail cadet, or maybe this trip will change your rank to general, but the emotions always come back with the same fervor. Either way, the interior conversation you have is nonstop.

“Okay, here we go,” you say to yourself as you hit the trail. Of course, the trail description you found online (or from a friend of a cousin’s girlfriend’s brother) never matches the image you had in your head. It’s fine, though – not an issue. You more or less trained for this. Pretty much. “Man, maybe I should have ridden a few more times before this.” Just gotta loosen up. The first trail marker is coming up, and this is where things are supposed to get fast.

No time to worry about it. “We’re all in it, and we’re haulin’!”

Suddenly, the familiar sound of tires on dirt disappears, and as butts come off saddles, all you hear are freehubs. Nice little kicker there, and everyone—yourself included—hit it just right with the perfect amount of speed. “That bump was made for us.” Then, grabbed rotors and skids mix with hunched shoulders and bowed elbows as a hard corner shows up way too fast. In rapid succession, legs come off of pedals like outriggers, momentum gets scrubbed just lightly enough to tickle the margin of error, and the train leaves the station.

And just like that, everything gels. “Yes.” A huge smile between deep breaths is the only thing on your face. It‘s not important how it begins each time—the switch flips and you hit that point where everything comes together and you and your group all ride as if wearing your flawlessly functioning bikes. You could round the next bend and see your boss standing in the trail, telling you you’re fired. “Cool! You’re the best!” you’d shout as you pedaled past. You’re fully immersed in a state of off-road bliss.

“What more do I possibly need than this?” A few weeks from now, when you’re back in the real world, you’ll be reminded, quite a bit actually. And some of those needs will keep pushing you to escape them just like you are on this trip. “None of it matters right now.” Nothing but the scenery, your riding soulmates, and this two-wheeled marvel that’s currently being piloted by mountain biking’s Bruce Lee.

“You know brain, you make some pretty badass decisions.” All is well with the universe, and this vacation has barely started. Thus begins what will inevitably become a blur of events over the coming days. In the shorter term is a different goal: finding a place to ferment that riding gear, switch on the burger locator, and sleep the sleep of royalty.