It’s time for me to get my after-road trip crybaby rant out of the way so that I can move on with prepping for the next big adventure. I generally try to keep the mood of this blog positive, because that’s how I generally exist in life. However, it’s not always like that, and, in the spirit of “keeping it real” in the blogosphere, I’m making this post.
I’m pretty sure that the obligatory post-road trip depression actually set in before I’d even left Salida- about the time that I could summarize a week’s worth of local news for Memphis with “2 murders and a mob-style beating by a gang of teens, mostly minors.” The icing on the cake- one of my good friends from Arkansas (Scott Penrod) was hit by a car and in the ICU.
I’m going to get off on a tangent for a second, because, in the scope of cyclists and cars, I always hear the same thing. “It could have been so much worse.” I’m guilty of saying it myself. You know what, though? It could always be worse. You got hit by a car and only had cuts and bruises? Definitely could have been worse. Oh, you got put in the hospital, but were out a few days later? You aren’t dead, so it could have been worse! A driver killed a cyclist? Well, the way they ride in groups all the time, it definitely could have been worse, because it was only one, and not more!
Fuck that. It could have been better. The drivers who can’t get it through their thick skulls that there are other people on the road who aren’t surrounded in steel and airbags could get their collective thick skulls out of their asses and pay attention to their surroundings. The police and justice system could stop siding with distracted drivers and start punishing them for being negligent human beings instead of just saying, “Oh, what a terrible accident, but it could have been worse.”
Last weekend, I rode my bike for more than 19 hours, and during that time, interacted with traffic for less than an hour. It’s not that I think that drivers outside of where I live are any better or paying any more attention, it’s that I was in a place where it’s possible to ride a bike for 19 hours without coming into contact with people wrapped in steel and their own agendas. Since I was hit a year and a half ago, I’ve been fighting my own fears and panic attacks, gritting my teeth and saying, “I won’t let this beat me,” but it’s slowly wearing me down.
I went for a late-afternoon walk while I was in the mountains, and was told to take pepper spray. It wasn’t because there were ill-intended people around- no mobs or murderers. It was because I wasn’t at the top of the food chain. I’m OK with that.
Along the theme of people wrapped up in their own agendas, while I was gone, Matt rode out to look at a bandit trail that’d been recently cut. He found a twisty, staub-filled path that basically followed none of the sustainability recommendations put fourth by IMBA. It (along with other illegal trails) is cut in an area that’s designated as a “Natural Area,” which means that, by the law, mountain bikes aren’t allowed. Thankfully, the park stopped enforcing that rule years ago, but all of the signs and the written laws are still intact, waiting for the wrong hiker/walker/etc. to get pissed off and raise enough stink that we’re tossed out again. The people doing this crap are brazen enough to cut illegal trail, then name it something like “El Bandito” on Strava- I showed someone that didn’t believe me, and he was flabbergasted, saying, “wow, that’d get you arrested out here!” They just. don’t. care. Matt called the trail-cutter out on a local facebook forum and was the subject of all-out ridicule that verged on bullying. These people have no idea how good they have it in Memphis, because they’ve never lived in a place where trail access to mountain bike has been reduced (like odd/even days for hikers/bikers on some urban Colorado trails) or eliminated altogether. No, they just want more trail, so they go out into the woods and cut it whenever and however they please- legality and sustainability be damned. Don’t you dare question it, either.
I love mountain biking. I can’t question that, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t put up with all the crap I put up with in order to ready myself to ride and race mountain bikes in places bigger and more awesome than my hometown. It just makes the crap so much more obvious when I go someplace else. It makes it hard to come back.
Alright. That’s all out. time to move on.