Jane Austen once wrote, “What are men to rocks and mountains?” (Pride and Prejudice). These rocks and mountains have stories to tell and are the very mortar of our existence. Some choose to study them for scientific data, some choose to harvest them for monetary gain (I call them bastards), and I choose to play amongst these rocks and mountains pledging to leave no trace.

For I find my own rhythm in the saddle of a mountain bike–freed from the oppression of everyday’s pressures. I choose the rhythm at which my feet grind, examining and feeling each muscle as them scream for air up a trail aptly named Puke Hill. I calculate small adjustments in pedal strokes down hill and lean ever so slightly as I flow through what seems like a dance through trees, berms, and jumps. Here’s where I separate and distantance myself from the schedule that becomes mundane after the 20th day in a row of eat, sleep, work, and repeat. Instead of sleep walking through my life, I get to react and reclaim my mind and senses. On the bike every move matters, every breath matters, and every bit of preparation does not go unnoticed.

Part of the beauty of this divorce from society and marriage with nature is that you are solely responsible for yourself and your bike. You begin to trust this inanimate object–you might even name her. I named mine after a dragon, Saphira (Eragon, Young Adult Fantasy Series about dragon riders). You learn to trust that your bike is more capable than you originally thought and so are you. However if you fail, it’s completely on you. If you forget something, it’s completely on you. Complete self reliance, Emerson style.

McKenzie River Trail in Deschutes, NF in Oregon
Riding in Dead Horse SP in Utah
A view in Ford Ord, NM in California