When I moved to Rochester, NY I was shocked to learn that Mountain biking was prohibited in any Monroe County park, except on the roads. I was enraged! I grew up with the notion that nothing was off-limits to me and my mountain bike, especially public lands. I guess things change when you move to a city. But I was not discouraged, I knew there had to be someplace for all the riders toting their downhill rigs and fat tire beast to ride around here. And I found it. Several actually.
Upon discovery of these tracts of land, devoted to multi-use shared trail systems I truly discovered the joy of single track riding. I was used to riding on re-purposed railroad beds and tight mountain trails littered with roots and logs, but these carefully groomed and consistently manicured ribbons of dirt were like nothing I had ever seen.
Single track riding, I have discovered, tends to define you. Much like activities such as rock climbing, white water kayaking, or downhill snowboarding tends to develop close-nit groups of dedicated enthusiasts. Often onlookers who have never tried or do not understand the dynamic of these groups of people cannot possibly understand the joy and euphoria associated with being in the midst of one.
When the snow finally melts, the spring rains run their course and the narrow dirt trails finally drain of all their retained moisture, all that is left is a small, hard packed, dusty trail…but that is enough. The rolling contours of a well-designed single track trail, the tight corridor cut through the densest wilderness, and the communion with nature experienced at 10-15 mph from the saddle of an iron steed.
For those who follow a more logical thought path, Single Track is exactly as the name implies; a narrow path that moves with the contours of the wilderness, designed for single-file use, wide enough only for a single hiker or biker to travel at a time. These sort of trails bring the rider, or hiker, closer to nature, enveloping them in a tunnel of green that is impossible with larger ATV trails or fire roads.
I have come to depend on a regular dose of carving around the sharp turns and negotiating the challenging technical areas of the trial. See, with single track, there is no room in your mind for other thoughts, you depend on all your senses to navigate as quick as you can through all the terrain and obstacles without loosing your mount. With that much concentration and focus, all other distractions get pushed away. For the precious few hours that you are cruising through the woods, (or the desert, or jungle, or fields, or mountains) there are no other thoughts. Any troubles from work, home, or finances are evaporated for those few hours. With a large group, with just your and your best bud, or riding solo, the experience is a compelling experience for those aware enough to recognize it.