At some point we gotta draw a line in the dirt.
Wandering around aimlessly, sending unclear messages as to what our direction is, leaving behind a disorganized mess of impact upon the surface of our Earth. Life is chaos without intention, love is merely an acquaintance without saying “yes” and a mountain bike singletrack could not exist if every rider’s personal, momentary satisfaction was the directive of the line. Trails are a place of purpose; the single corridor where we share the experience of offering ourselves to another, to the land, to a purposeful experience that cannot be had in the wide-open chaos of the unintentional, momentary movement of the unintended.
A “singeltrack trail” is the point of mountain biking; beautiful corridors of intentional movement laid upon the land by an original designer, brought to life through labors of love to set up the opportunity to experience this particular piece of earth in a special way. Trails consolidate our impact on such places as they place all user impact on one specific corridor well-intended to drain water from foul weather and guide us all amidst, not over the flora and fauna of these magical places. Trails are the playing field of an experience of movement, the canvas of the art of rider style and the salvation of that little fragile plant just along the side.
Hello everyone, welcome to the beginning of a column I decided to call, A Line In The Dirt. My name is Troy, I am from Fruita, Colorado, where some 26 years ago we dug a few lines in the dirt and began what is now a world mountain bike destination. Being asked to write this column I first faced a month of writer’s block or what is more honestly, “fear of saying ‘yes’”—that endless question of what I would say, how I would say it and what you all would think of me once I did. Self-esteem is the block of life really, we have such a hard time ever choosing yes, or committing to the line and dropping in. It’s no wonder that we sometimes cannot know true love, that we can’t send that jump or that we must cling to “my right” to redraw the trail anywhere my whim or lack of skill decides. Being intentional is hard, narrow trails demand it and life is rewarded to those who dare decide to move intentionally, mutually with the world around them and beautifully in their expression of life’s movement. I’m here to talk trails but I’m also here to share some deeper thoughts on life, of love and to draw some lines that need to be drawn.
Circa 1995 we began to build trails north of Fruita in what is now called the “north Fruita desert”. These skinny “singletrack” lines were so intentionally envisioned, hours of walking the earth pondering the speed of the rider, the flow of that corner, the path that would best use that natural terrain and afford a beautiful jump. We looked at the movement of water upon this land, took the trails near beautiful features and blooming cacti in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. We also drew lines of ethics. The desert is fragile and it was important as we developed these new lines that our friends, our fellow users, realized that although they “could” just cut that corner it would become a scribble and a scar on what was intended to be a beautiful flow of 2.1″ tires upon the surface of this place. We asked people to “just keep singletrack single” and to join us in loving this place. We preached the camaraderie with the land, with each other and with a bankrupt community that we would help reincarnate. Life is about this love and these trails were about experience and Fruita became a top destination in the budding mountain bike world. Over the course of this column I will share tales of relevance, of the emergence of mountain bike towns and the culture of our sport. I look forward to sharing my passion and my words with you.
For a quarter of a century as we invited the world to Fruita, I also invited so many of you to my home. Every year we had a mountain bike festival in late April. Hundreds and then thousands of people came and discovered the style and singeltrack of this high desert gem. Every Saturday night of Fruita Fat Tire weekend, I hosted a party at my house to extend my deepest gratitude to any of you that would honor my vision and come ride with us. It was a shock to my wife and foolish to many, but I was moving with intention. It was my belief that if I “loved my people on purpose,” they would love reciprocally and this would all work. It did and the story of Fruita and Over the Edge is well told. I loved my people and to this day they are still loving me back.
Since 1996 there must have been nearly ten thousand people pass through my house via this Saturday night afterparty. I hosted bands in my garage, the police played along and my neighbors were stalwarts of tolerance. What stands out beyond all the amazing memories and truths of this is the beautiful intentional movement of my people. Never did anyone crush my flowers, never but once did someone steal from my house, never a guest felt entitled to damage anything in my home. It was only this mutual intentional love that allowed this annual party to not die in the first attempt. People kept coming, I kept loving and they kept loving me back. We made friendships, built trails and saved a town.
Intentional movement is a beautiful thing; love is a power we barely understand and the coming together of common people is the true magic of our life experience. Remember this the next time you ride: That plant just outside the trail is there to love you. Keep your tires in the surface we all share; it is not for us to be the ones to remove that plant. Keep in mind that the steering required to stay in that line IS the point of our movement.
The trail is your corridor, your chance to wander this place and love it, to leave it for others to love. It is your corridor of intended love. Choose it! Get forward, commit to your line and embrace your flow. Love your place, love people on purpose and please—keep singletrack single!
It’s a beautiful ethic you preach.