Seasonality is surely the best thing about the Mountains, about the northern latitudes than dip and dive between summer and winter with such little warning. For all the suspense and anticipation I place on the arrival of spring, cycling forces me to live in the moment. If its cold outside, I will put on my layers and ride anyway. But then it happens, and you’re pedalling up a fir lined trail cushioned with a bed of pine needles. You’re wearing just shorts and a jersey, and between the dense forest you can look out to see the green meadows.
The thin slithers of trail that I’m searching for are easy to miss. I ride down the gravel tracks with a head cocked sideways; better to stare into the undergrowth. I scope out a winding path; a trail cutting through the green mossy carpet on the lush forest floor. Everywhere has moisture and life. The ferns unfurling at ankle height meld seamlessly into month old pine saplings, which themselves struggle for air in the shadows of their older siblings. The wire like tentacles of established growth, strengthened after a winter of bearing the snow, jut out at my freshly exposed skin. I investigate each corner of the new found trail, against the resistance of the crowding shrubs; plants whose only contact has been deer and foxes since the last intrepid mountain biker came this way some months ago.
The trail acts as a filter. I pass in one end after a day of work in the city. A day of computer screens and emails. Of buses and roads and overhead power lines. I pass into this tight knit world of turns and roots, of fallen logs resting on the soft carpet of mulch. Each turn peels away a layer of stress, the rolling bed of the path rips away the worries of modern life, and the rocky chutes shake me awake; into a world where real things matter again. Where life matters again.