Show me perfect Alps singletrack descending for thousands of feet, show me the NorthShore playground, show me Porcupine Ridge in Utah, show me all of the mountain bike heavens of this world. They’re all good, but they’re no better than what I have in my back woods. Why? because my local trail is mine. I discovered it.
I discovered the trail for myself because it is literally only a stone’s throw from my parents’ farm. My mum had led me on a leading rein through the forest on horseback, before I could even walk. Slightly later, I accompanied my dad under my own steam, shoulder high with his pointer dogs. It’s captured on cine film, but also so locked in our memories that we can grasp it, feel it even, simply by closing our eyes. My friends and I were the first people to ride the trail on mountain bikes, using it as a short cut between the farms.
My family and I have watched those trees grow through the seasons for 37 years. Everything on that route is integral to our very being. Four hundred metres from the trail head is Bess’s place. As far as my father’s favourite dog could go before returning home in her dying days. The Spring that serves my parents farm rises in that forest then traces through it as the rich vein that brings life, then sustains it, on to the farm.
This trail is therefore my constant. As things drift in and out of my life the trail remains as deeply rooted in me as my family. It is our shared place and our shared history.
I myself have walked through that forest so many times in the dark that I have no need for sight nor map. I use my kinesthetic sense to feel the flow of the trail.
I know every line, perfect and not so perfect, every root, rock, step and gap. Every advantage and disadvantage along the trail. When I ride elsewhere I am no more than average, but here in my backyard I am the match of any MTB DVD star.
My trail is my armour, protecting me from all of the stresses and battles of life. I have taken everything that has ever worried me to this trail – every problem, every issue, every solution needed. This trail is my listener, my counsel, my solver of problems, and it is also my escape. I have told this trail things that I have told no one else. But it is also my Achilles Heel, because when I trust this trail too much it pulls me back down to earth with a bump.
You are a welcome guest here if you tread carefully and be respectful, as the trail that runs here flows deep into our very souls…For this very reason, it is the equal of any trail in the world and is therefore my personal mountain bike heaven.