Fat Tire Tuesday: Lost. And Found.

Musings from a mountain biking addict on the joy of getting lost

by Sarah Hansing


…. “Um. I think we’re lost.” The utterance of this sentence probably would not come as a huge surprise to many people who know me; I think it is safe to say that very few people would gasp in shock.

But for a moment, it felt very, very uncomfortable to acknowledge that we didn’t quite know where we were. Or how far it was back to the car (and by extension, the food and beer that was in the post-ride plans). As humans, we like our familiarity. We embrace our routines, and find comfort in consistency. And being lost in what felt like the middle of nowhere, with the day waning, a questionable amount of water left, and no functioning GPS felt like the OPPOSITE of comfortable.

Just for a minute or two though.

Because next came acceptance. (Well, actually, first I yelled at my Friends Whose Great Idea This Ride Was, “Look! If you guys didn’t want to be friends anymore, you could’ve just SAID!”)

But THEN came acceptance. We were already on the ride. We were already lost. It was kind of pretty in the middle of nowhere. In fact the view was spectacular, with the late afternoon light. We all just settled in, and resigned ourselves to a longer ride than we had anticipated, glad we had lights. I made a mental note to bring sandwiches next time we went on an adventure. I stopped worrying about where we were going, and really began to enjoy where we were right at each moment. My mind settled, my legs pedaled, and I smiled. We were lost, and it was the most “found” I had felt in some time.

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1 Comment

  1. Voltaire's Army

    Thank you for writing this. The account reminds me of my own “getting lost” experience. I got lost while riding offroad in North Florida a couple of years ago. I was in a section of the Appalachicola National Forest, riding by myself in an area that I was definitely not as familiar with as I should have been. Getting lost there is relatively easy because it’s all pine scrub, water oaks, and palmettos. There are plenty of unmarked sections of sandy trail, and not much in the way of distinctive landmarks. I had no phone, no food, and an iffy amount of water.
    Like the writer, I first felt very very uncomfortable. Everything was dead quite when I stopped. No moving air, no animal noises, nothing. The position of the sun in the sky helped a little, but not much. The day was warm, but not boiling hot, so the water would probably last. But where was I? I started to ride again, much more slowly now, stopping every now and then to look around. A little fearful. At one stop, I heard, or thought I heard, the sound of trickling water. This would have been water running down the sides of a very old, very deep, very steep sinkhole. I knew the sinkhole, and knew that if I got to it, I could then find my way back to the car. So I road slowly, taking any turn that seemed to make the water sound louder.
    My unease left as I absorbed myself in concentration on the sound. After about an hour of searching, with the water getting slowly louder, I finally emerged from the woods at the edge of the sinkhole. And stopped at what I saw. The sinkhole itself is quite beautiful, with vegetation growing out of the vertical sides and water falling from multiple openings in the limestone to a glimmering blue pool about thirty feet below. On the other side of the sink was a woman. She was sitting in the lotus position, eyes closed, with her arms on her lap. She had a simple dress on, and she held an apple in her hands. She was deep in meditation. It was utterly beautiful.
    I slipped back onto the trail, and left as quietly as I could. I can’t even explain why, but I was suddenly much more aware of the beauty of the things around me. More aware of the tiny details. I felt elated. Lucky simply to be a living thing surrounded by the forest. I rode the rest of my ride with an outsize grin and a soaring heart.
    I still thank the universe for getting lost that day.


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