Words and Photo by Danielle Baker
As mountain bikers we have all had a ‘Big Ed’ in our lives, that trail that was a secret or not-so-secret-but-not-so-legal gem. You loved it and then you lost it. This is a eulogy for all of the trails that have been taken from us too soon.
Big Ed touched all of our lives in my neck of the woods. From the first rumors we heard of his inception, we had big plans for his future and our future rides. The countless hours that the builders contributed to creating Big Ed were out of dedication to their vision. Their work built a beautiful resource that we all came to love.
Through all our seasons he was there for us. At times he required a helping hand; some new rockwork here or a ladder there, but he never forgot our actions in those times. Big Ed always repaid our kindness with the loyalty characteristic of a good friend. He was there for us on the best days and more importantly on the bad days; days when we just really needed to get out and ride our bikes.
Through some of my hardest times Ed supported me, being the kind of strong, silent friend who listens to you without question or judgment. He laughed with me, with all of us on the great days; the days full of high fives and hot laps. Our friendship was filled with laughter and tears and sometimes both as I lay in a crumpled pile tangled in my bike, giggling until tears ran down my face because it was all I could do.
Big Ed kept my ego in check, throwing a friendly reminder at me by way of a tree just close enough to catch my bars or a root to clip with my pedals at speed. He kept me humble. He also gave me challenges that propelled me forward. Every small jump or drop that progressed to the next bigger jump or drop filled me with a sense of accomplishment that only he could provide. The time we spent together always left me feeling rewarded and happy.
It is difficult to think about Big Ed being gone. While we have other trails to ride and love, he provided us with a unique experience that other trails simply can’t. We rode this trail because it was special. Created out of hours of love and passion and for the happiness of others, Big Ed was taken with the violence of destruction and a work order that leaves no room for the compassion of a community in mourning. All who were fortunate enough to have had Ed in their lives will gravely miss him.
Tragically taken from us too soon, he will live on in our hearts and memories. We will talk about this perfect day or that night ride in the rain with friends. We’ll credit scars on our bodies to him and we will tell people who never got to ride Big Ed all about the great trail that he was. The next trail will have it’s own unique qualities to offer, but maybe just a little of it will be influenced by our favorite traits of his.
Possibly the hardest part to accept is a future without Big Ed in it. That one drop that we never quite got right, or in my case, got at all. There was always another day to come back, another day to try it again. There’s always tomorrow to ride. Today there is homework, or rain, or a comfortable couch.
When it comes to losing a favorite trail, don’t be the person who regrets the rides that you didn’t get in on it. Go ride your bike, it’s what Ed would want.