Do you ever have those moments when you just experience something truly amazing and you are completely satisfied with your lot? Well, recently I’ve had a few of those moments and if I had to leave this world in a cardboard box, at least I would have experienced some bliss before the last boarding call.
I am one of life’s observers. Not necessarily comfortable with getting mixed up or embroiled within something, but rather content to view from afar and enjoy the experience for what it is and what is could possibly be too.
I regularly find trails that are off the beaten track…some are byways which are little more than footpaths in physical size because they’re totally overgrown, some are farm tracks and others are public access trails that allow access to places rarely seen by bike riders.
As a rider, I want to take myself and my bike to wherever I’m allowed to go to. Life demands halt adventures in far off lands, so I spend much of my time scouring maps to see if there is anything nearer to me or within a day’s ride at least…that is worthy of exploration. There are some trails that I plan as meticulously as I am able, and then there are others that I just stumble across along my route which draw my attention and make me want to investigate further.
Now, in truth, many of these impromptu trails I cannot be certain that they are not on private lands or are not supposed to be accessible by a motorcycle, however I am constantly searching for any signs or notices that might give me the impression that they are.
Many of the trails I find are also colocated upon farm tracks too or there are public access trails that I have found that are not marked on maps but there are signs to allow access, albeit it does not stipulate what mode of travel would be allowed or not.
So, on these little adventures I am consistently finding amazing places to ride my bike and cannot help but feel humbled by what I experience, the view I find or the hidden treasures that seemingly appear out of nowhere.
It could be a forest trail that takes me deep beneath the canopy and the forest floor is clear of vegetation apart from dried leaves that have divorced themselves from the branches above. Riding through this aspect is almost spiritual…and occasionally stopping, shutting the engine and getting off the bike to have a walk around is as good as any psychological therapy can ever be.
Your eyes get wider, your breathing is slower and deeper, you can hear the sound of your heart over the hush of the whispering trees. Turning slowly through 360 degrees you are swallowed whole by the surroundings, the solitude caresses your blood pressure to lower depths and your stress is whisked away to far off times. The Japanese have a term for forest bathing or losing yourself in the ambience of the trees. Shinrin Yoku! It is something that can hold your attention and can repair a wayward soul…at least for a brief moment which allows you to forget your daily worries and concerns.
This last week, I have experienced some amazing sights at dawn and at dusk…the glorious weather certainly helps the mood too. I have ridden though forests where the morning sun pierces through into the heart of it to reveal former settlements, or where a trail has opened up before my eyes that led to hidden lakes or clearings. An oasis of calm being disrupted only by the purring of my engine being nursed along at low revs.
I have stood on the top of hillsides with the sun at my back just breaking the horizon, and looking down into the valley below. The world was still asleep and the faint wispiness of some low level clouds and fog barely masked the roofs of abodes still silent.
There have been moments on my rides when I am humiliated. Thinking I am so grand when in truth I am a bit part player in a grand production. The undulating countryside ahead of me bathed in sunlight and searing heat, shimmering across the vista. The hills and valleys have been quiet, farmers resting, animals struggling to find shade…and wild deer darting across my path whilst rabbits and squirrels flit around flirting with danger and rushing around to find secure paths home.
Each and every experience invites you to wait for a moment, to take stock of your situation and to value your standing. It can cause reflection or it can paralyse you into staring in awe…expressing wondrous emotion or verbalising amazement or incredulity. These are the experiences that I treasure when I ride. Fantastic views, new and interesting places, stirred emotions and reflective atmospheres. There are many fabulous trails out there to ride…wherever you are in the world…the last trail you’ll ever need to ride is sure to be close at hand…but you’ll want to do it over and over again.