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WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR TRAILS?
Of all the questions we get about mountain biking, one of the simplest is also one of the hardest to answer – why do we do it? After all, getting wet, muddy, tired and possibly even injured while travelling in circles is kind of strange, when you think about it…
There are lots of surprisingly sensible reasons to hit the trails, of course – the fitness, the thrill, the excuse for coffee and cake – those are all parts of the picture of why we do it, but they don’t explain why we love it. For that, you have to look a little deeper.
So here are our top five theories on just why the best trails have us so enthralled…
1. They put you in the moment
Riding a trail fast takes so much concentration there’s simply no space for day-to-day thoughts. You experience time purely as it comes and goes in each instant (as we did so much more easily as children). And that’s incredibly good for relieving stress. A beautiful trail is a holiday from the worries that can so easily cloud everyday life. Better still, the effect is more than fleeting – getting some distance on your troubles helps get them in perspective.
2. They challenge you – hard
While road descents can be fast, furious and flat-out scary, even the worst don’t fling so much so frantically at you as a great trail. With your sightlines obscured by trees and bushes, constantly evolving surfaces, and any drops, roots, rocks, ruts, puddles, cambers, jumps or holes requiring tight skills and reflexes, great trails become an explosion of information. The faster you go, the bigger the bang! Overcoming a mental and physical challenge leaves you feeling good for hours, sometimes even days.
3. They provide a sense of progress
It’s a good feeling to gain new skills, and it’s a bonus to hone old skills to greater and greater effectiveness. It’s undoubtedly positive to feel fitter and stronger – you’re upgrading your engine, making your bike faster and more fun still, and the only cost is the time it takes to ride. Well, that and the delicious upgrades your enthusiasm pushes you towards!
4. They’re where you find ‘The Flow’
The idea of ‘Flow’ may sound mystical, but it’s definitely real, even though it’s so hard to pin down. It’s an extension of being in the moment, but on a trail that curves and drops and swoops with a rhythm you’re completely tuned into. The coordination flows through both mind and body to produce a joy beyond mere sport – it feels somehow more like dancing or playing an instrument. So there you fly, creating something intangible, tracing invisible lines in space that you sense like a melody. How could you not love that?
5. The freedom
It’s easy to believe our all-enveloping world of work and commuting is ‘real’ life, while cycling is some kind of spare-time indulgence. But what could be more real than the hills, woods and green-blue skylines of Earth? What could be more real than exploring nature, on a machine that focuses you on nothing but that natural place in that unique moment of time? The idea of work will be gone long before those hills – so how can it be more real? Today, every mile a great trail takes you from the maze-like sheer faces of cities and towns is a mile towards an alternate, more fundamental reality.