On the trail and loving it

I’ve long had this fantasy of riding singletrack — the kind we rip on bikes — on a motorcycle. Just swooping through the woods, left right up down brap braap braaaping along, so smooth, so flowy, so graceful.

Once they’re realized, most fantasies have a way of disappointing, but not this one. Today some buddies and I rode 48 miles of swoopy trail at Rampart Range southwest of Denver. These trails are designed by and for motorcyclists, and let me tell you: They flow like the finest Santa Cruz bike trails — without the pedaling.

Every turn has a berm. Some are wishy-washy decomposed granite, some are overhung blue groove, and some are hard-packed garage doors. Set the pace to 7 out of 10, put your CRF450X in third gear and go: braap across the rocks, double the whoops, lay it into the turn, roll the throttle and repeat. Dislocated thumb locked in a brace, heart thumping at 115 bpm, feet dancing on the pegs. Again and again and again and again.

There’s no time for anything but now. The throttle is halfway open, but the brain is pinned wide open. Scanning, scanning, looking for lines. Coordinating tire placement, bike lean, body position, brakes, gears, clutch, throttle. No time for worries, no time for photos.

Motorcycles embody everything great about mountain biking (without the pedaling). Not that riding moto is easy; it’s actually very physical. But when you remove self propulsion from the equation, quite a bit of bandwidth opens up. You can use this free capacity to take it easy, rip extra hard or achieve a deeper level of grace.

I choose the latter.

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