Fat Tire Freedom: Riding the Trail Backwards

Reflections on perspective

By Sarah Hansing

Yesterday I rode the same trail that I’ve ridden at least a hundred times, and I sort of got lost.

And by “sort of,” I mean that I was actually completely and totally turned around for at least ten minutes. I had to backtrack through the redwoods, retrace my way along some singletrack, and re-negotiate the turns and twists that I (up until now) thought I could ride blindfolded.

The truth is that I probably would have done BETTER if I was blindfolded, instead of doing what I was doing.

(NO, I wasn’t doing THAT … sheesh.)

I was riding the trail backwards.

Now I don’t know if that is something any of ya’ll have ever done, but let me tell you – the ol “left right left right”  mantra of following a trail doesn’t work that well when you’re coming from the other direction.

Your perspective is turned completely upside down; the mindless flow becomes way less mindless and increasingly more mindful.

You have to pay attention, not just follow directions.  

In some ways, this is the opposite of what endears mountain biking to me. I have long been a huge proponent of: turn on the flow, turn off the noise and turn on the Zen (or as I like to call it “penalty for failure meditation”).

I had to stop at more than one or two intersections and look –  I mean really LOOK – at where I was before I chose what I thought was the correct trail.

Sometimes even then I chose poorly.

My directionally impaired shuck and jive through the trees gave me pause, and it got me thinking. I thought about how easy it is to unwittingly become comfortable with our routines. I thought about how much of our thought process is habit.

And I thought about how my personal perspectives and prejudices are so comfortable and familiar.

I think taking a step back to consider how and why we are navigating our narratives is very important. But it took that ride to remind me of the possibility that based on which direction we are coming from, the trail looks different. Perhaps we could all work on steering ourselves with a bit more understanding and kindness. Because not everyone is coming from the same direction, or is headed towards the same trailhead. My wish is that we can all still ride together, regardless.

 


Sarah Hansing is a 5-year veteran of the Westside of Santa Cruz, who lives with her amazing Australian partner in crime, as well as a little white cat (who is still a jerk). Sarah has been a bicycle mechanic coast to coast and back again for about 20 years, and has been pedaling them (and falling off of them) for even longer. Dirt is preferred, but road has been experimented with a few times … please don’t judge.

Currently she enjoys making the customers at Bike Station in Capitola, CA happy with her wit, whimsy and wrenches.


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