Old Friend

There’s a trail here, in our new town, that I’ll call Old Friend. It’s one of my top 3 favorite trails ever. It doesn’t have any spectacular views and it’s not very well built. It doesn’t ever make me feel like a great rider. It’s not remote. Every time I ride it it seems a bit more eroded in all the wrong places. I never take new riders here. It doesn’t really go anywhere – except to other trails with better features. It’s steep, switchbacked, and technical.
Obviously, this pic is in Colorado…
So why do I like it so much?
I suppose it’s the history that this old friend and I have. When I came to school, this was the first ride I did on the first week. I downed a pb&j right beforehand and was surprised that it didn’t come back up. I was shocked at how long it took – my first ride up Old Friend was probably an hour.
I’ve ridden this trail to study (Dendrology), ridden it at night, ridden it to de-stress, ridden it with new friends, ridden it to get in better shape, ridden it to conquer fears, ridden it to talk to God, ridden it with a broken heart. I don’t know how many times I’ve ridden up (and down) this trail, but it’s always a little different.
I used to be a bike-thrower. I had a hard time separating “bad riding day” from “bad rider” and controlling my frustration. Old Friend used to drive me to throwing my bike at least once a month. I love instant success, and Old Friend offers none.
As I rode this trail for the first time in several years I was thinking about all this. I was expecting Old Friend to cut me a break after riding and racing on the big rocky slopes of Colorado. Instead, I was surprised to find it just as challenging. Sometimes the things I struggle with are just – there. There’s victory and progress, but I can’t let myself feel defeated when the same struggles come right back. I can’t throw the bike and give up. I also can’t get cocky about progress or think I can ride on perceived success. I have to buckle down for the next rooty section and be excited about what’s improved since the last ride. I have to realize “failed” does not mean “failure,” not ever.
I’ve never cleaned all of Old Friend in one swoop but I’m going to keep trying. I’ve also never been perfect or without weakness, but I know who is working on me. And I don’t throw the bike anymore.


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