Photo by Ryan Creary. Story by Joe Parkin
Whether you've been a disciple of dirt since childhood or you've only recently joined the tribe, being tethered to GPS devices, smartphones and your entire iTunes library probably wasn't part of your first two-wheeled experience. And
though modern technology can certainly save your arse when adventures go sideways, too much gadgetry can also rob your ride of many simple pleasures.
Our society is reward-oriented, and we mountain bikers are not immune to the magnetic pull of trophies and other accolades—real or virtual. With your eyes distracted by an LCD screen and your brain focused on shaving another half second off your best time for some section of trail, the experience of flowing with the terrain can get lost entirely.
When every day is a race, racing no longer carries as much significance, and riding becomes wholly one-dimensional. If your head is down and your goal is to finish the ride as quickly as possible, you might miss out on some fun new
lines, and you might possibly meet your plan to spend fewer minutes riding in the dirt.
A mind unplugged from modern electronic conveniences can quickly become uncluttered by the myriad hassles of modern life. The stresses created by mountains of work are easily shuffled to your brain's bottom drawer when thoughts are reduced to nothing more complex than wondering what you might see at the top of that next little climb.
When you leave clock-watching to those 40 hours during the week when you're getting paid, and endeavor to ride with absolutely no agenda, you'll likely be reminded of how much fun our sport really is. Mountain-bike riding, simply for the purpose of riding a mountain bike, is one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to cleanse your body and soul of life's demons.
If you allow your brain to shift into neutral, and let it react to each of your senses, you might find that colors are more vibrant, sounds are more defined, smells are more intense and that cold, post-ride beverage never tasted so good.
Let's face it: Most of us spend our days staring into the life-sucking glow of a computer. And when we're not submitting ourselves as slaves to work computers, we're shackled to various other forms of the ever-expanding electronic universe. Turning off the noise and tuning in to an unfettered
ride in the dirt is a perfect escape.