Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Empire of Dirt

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if I had a penny for my thoughts I'd be a millionaire.

Armed with a camera, bikes and beer; me and the wife brought the dog to set up camp at Tsali. We headed up the tail of the dragon and into the mountains of North Carolina. Upon arrival and after making a few loops through the camp sites, it became glaringly obvious that there were no open sites. This was going to be a problem, since we chose Tsali for its trail side camp sites.
I noticed a closed road across from the sites, and there was what appeared to be a maintenance area with a picnic table, gazebo and plenty of lumber. Perfect for vagabonding.

Free your mind and your bike will follow. Tsali is known for groomed trails that attract a crowd that's usually new to the sport. As the anthesis to demanding riding, Tsali's flowing trails roll effortlessly through the woods while delivering staggering views. A cacophony of colors burst around every singletrack turn in the autumn forest at Tsali.

In auto-pilot, reflecting on bike culture, I came to the conclusion that riding a bike is summed up by moments like these. Unlike the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, riding bikes is all of the above. It’s the struggle and the simplicity. Bike culture is the adventure of riding your bike downtown to a concert, and the melody of the ride home. Bike culture is, as most Knoxville riders know, post-ride refreshments at the trail head amongst good company. Likewise, a good ride is summed up by the self-defeating struggle to the top of the hill that is instantly forgotten as you prepare to descend.

Like a black rebel motorcycle gang or a long-haul trucker, the joy of the open road (or the beauty of the back country) calls us to ride. The destination of the journey is the journey itself.

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