By Matt Baatz
A small tree upended and took out a chunk of Rabbit Hole, an unmapped and lightly-signed trail, but popular nevertheless. It’s a pretty freakin’ rippin’ ride down, so the day I was backfilling the damage it was a curious sight to see a guy walking his bike up it. He had some choice words for me about how poorly the trails were marked and he expected better from trails he just “paid” to ride by purchasing a map. I was taken aback. In my experience, mountain bikers rarely go negative.
Trailbuilding is a field where “good enough” is not just acceptable, but ideal. Like pizza, trails are often best when they’re slightly imperfect, a little burnt around the edges, a bit gnarly looking. The most important part is having all the right ingredients in place and in the right proportions. If a rider gets misdirected from time-to-time, it only adds spice to their adventure. So this was my first real complaint in years and I got flustered and yelled at the guy: “GET A GRIP!”
I wasn’t yelling at him, exactly (well, not just at him), but at my fear that a great sport that once was about having an unadulterated adventure was inching towards a dismal state of over-orchestration. Ninety percent of life is scheduled, GPSed, timed, predictable, bubble-wrapped, signed, sealed and delivered. This was the 10 percent that wasn’t and I wanted it to stay that way.
Another Rabbit Hole story: At her insistence, I took my friend riding down the Rabbit Hole shortly after it opened. Never mind that she doesn’t mountain bike. Never mind that she was wearing rubber clogs that day. Never mind that the trail was matted with slippery leaves. Never mind that the only bike we could find for her was probably never meant to traverse anything more rugged than gravel. She, albeit slowly, rode everything without a dab. We went up Luvin’ It; more of the same. She had a plane to catch.
“Do we want to go to Shrek’s Cabin? You have a plane to catch.”
“Matt, we’re in the forest now. We don’t think about time out here.”
Yes. I need reminders, too.
By Matt Baatz