Matt Niswonger

Singletrack Mind by Albert Flynn DeSilver

I read this book on the plane from San Jose to Portland. At only 56 pages long this badass read is perfect for a short plane ride. Singletrack Mind is a collection of essays about mountain biking. One of the essays “Point of all Return” was previously featured in Adventure Journal in Summer 2021.

The subtitle of this book is an apt description of what the reader of Singletrack Mind can expect: “Finding Wisdom and the Poetry of Life on Two Wheels.”
Singletrack Mind was written as a series of essays about the spiritual side of riding mountain bikes. The book delves into the culture of MTB and comes from a place of deep reverence for the sport. In the first essay “Beginnings” Mr. Desilver tells his origin story as an MTB lifer in philosophical terms:
“As post-post-modern, internet- drunk, early AI, sixth-extinction adventurers, we are not so much on the hunt these days for game and food (conveniently packaged and stocked as our supermarkets are) as we are for experience and insight. Away from the digital landscape we set out on the real landscape on the hunt for stoke…”
As you can see this is heady stuff. If you love riding trails and appreciate exploring the philosophical underpinnings of riding off road, this is the book for you. In ”The Point of all Return” and “Fuzzy, Yes” the author takes us on a journey to Point Reyes, the site of his backyard trails. Here we learn to see the natural grandeur of this amazing area through the eyes of a close riding partner known simply as Fuzzy Duds. After Fuzzy died of cancer the author describes a group ride that captures the magic of close friends who ride together in Point Reyes. After reading these two essays I found myself wanting to go riding in Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco.
In the postscript Desilver describes his purpose as a mountain biking writer.
“In writing about earth spirit and the stoke of the ride, I must write beyond writing and ride beyond riding for the mere pleasure of it, or even for the stoke of it, and write and ride for the health and well-being of the planet.”
I don’t usually think of poetry when I think of mountain biking, but in this book the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. For this reason Singletrack Mind is an official selection of Adventure Sports Journal’s Badass Books.
Learn more about the author Albert Flynn DeSilver here.

Buy the book here.

Read other Badass Reads reviews here.