Trail Deprivation

It’s an odd feeling to be situationally deprived of one of your favorite sports. For years as a kid living in a small town, everything was pretty accessible. From a young age, my only real sense of sport deprivation was waiting for it to snow to go snowboarding. I’ve gone through countless injuries, yet a predictable cycle of seasons and residence in a small town in New Jersey has always allowed me to enjoy my favorite sports. But for the past few months, I’ve been living in Paris. It’s my first time living in a big city, and the longest I’ve gone without biking.

6 Mile Run, NJ

I’ve been treating my bike envy and trail deprivation with a ton of truly invaluable experiences that I surely wouldn’t trade. Yet my bike frustration is compounded any time I try to hit the trails (or even get on a bike). For weeks I have been trying to plan an excursion for myself where I can ride some scenic European singletrack. However, as you can imagine, it’s quite difficult when all of my gear is back home in the states. Finding a company willing to rent me bike, helmet, backpack, necessary trail gear, a map or guided tour, all on a student’s budget, is nearly impossible. That last one, student budget, seems to be the most limiting factor. Why are mountain bike holiday excursions so expensive?

I of course know that the sport is expensive. I know that the bike I rent will most likely be a nice one, so the company can charge me more; this is understood. Each company emphasizes its experienced trail guides, and again, charges quite a bit. Now I know the process is cheaper if you explore the trails without a guide, but as a student traveling alone, I wanted this to be planned out pretty well and didn’t want to be exploring a trail network in a foreign country without at least a buddy. I ride almost exclusively alone in New York or New Jersey, but that’s generally with cell reception, and on trails I’ve learned whilst with a group.

South of France.  Mountains almost within reach.

Most of the bike holiday companies require very specific dates, or a set group of people. This is perfect for groups of friends in the summer months, but very difficult for an individual in the spring.

How cool would it be if there was a site on which one could search by geographic location and find a local willing to go out for a ride? I’ve seen it on bike threads before, but I’m talking about a website similar to Airbnb (a site I have been using a lot this semester as a traveling student). For those of you unfamiliar with Airbnb, it’s an extremely well run website where you can find a room just about anywhere in the world. People rent out anything from a bed, up to an entire apartment, with use of bathroom, and often the kitchen. It’s very functional, and a great way to find accommodation ranging from very budget to extremely nice.

What if there was a site where someone could search a location and be given a list of people from that area who are all willing to give someone a tour of their trails, for a “Price.” Example listing: “I typically go out for 2-3 hours at a time, I’d be happy to show you the trails, just hit me up a few days in advance. Buy me a beer afterwards or something.” I, for one, wouldn’t charge someone an astronomical price just to show them the trails I love. I’m honestly not sure if anything like this exists, but I have done a bit of searching. There are so many sites with reviews, telling people how to explore on their own (which is fantastic!). But, some people would prefer a guide in certain situations. And some people, like myself, love literally any chance to show someone my trails, or make a new bike friend.

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