It’s easy to get caught up in a lifestyle mountain bike excess. A life of adding and removing items from your cart, a constant shopping experience of media, and the internal debates of which new carbon whip will be best down the road. The media and the marketing burdening you down with a have or have not attitude. Riders on the side of the trails turn into price tags, their bikes judged and their dedication questioned based on their equipment choices. It happens, but this wasn’t one of those times, this day wasn’t about equipment, it wasn’t about trends, it wasn’t about brands. It was about a group of guys on an adventure, an adventure to find the bottom of a mountain in one piece.
Our day started innocently enough. I picked up a friend of mine, a resident of Flagstaff, Arizona. Light rain was off and on, a normal occurrence for a Flagstaff morning. A few miles down the road, we met up with a few bikers I had met racing (Take that: The Lonely Mountain Biker’s Guide to NOT Finding a Group). The trailhead was damp, but full of other riders so we assumed the trails were in good enough condition that we wouldn’t be of harm.
Mt. Eldon is no walk in the park, at least for AZ. Flagstaff’s elevation is a solid 7,000 ft and Mt. Eldon’s peak another 2,400 ft above that. With little interest in a 2400 ft ascent, we jumped in my truck and shuttled to the top of the mountain. Our climb brought us closer and closer into the clouds until finally, we were deep within the foggy rain.
“It is probably just raining at the top, as we descend it will clear up.” I am sure you have heard this at one point or another. It wasn’t true, but it was good enough for us to carry on.
Our descent was fast with technical sections of rock and root. A four foot drop challenged our abilities and our search for the elusive AZ flow yielded success. Luckily for us, the trails did fine with the rain, they were wet, yes but lacked mud. Traction was a plenty in most sections, our pants, soaked in mud, our faces caked with chunks of tire-flung dirt pebbles. Each break on our 11 mile descent was filled with grins. No one cared about their strava times, which tires would have worked best in the conditions, we didn’t care who had the newest bike, or the most technical jacket. All we cared about was playing in the dirt, ripping corners, and getting to the bottom. The rain was not a burden, but instead a lubricant to our adventure. Our day was simply a celebration of what mountain biking should always be, fun.
We finally made it to the bottom. Like little kids we shared our close calls, and our “oh-shit” moments and laughed.
I guess our perspective gets muddled somewhere along the lines. We find the wrong biking things important. When really, all that matters is riding your bike and that stupid smile you can’t wipe off for days.