spooky bikes

A trail review.

Posted in Random by Mickey/SpookyBikes on April 12, 2010

Robinson St Park in Agawam, MA.
If anyone wants to know what XC racing is like in the Southeastern US, come on out to a shitty suburb in Western Mass to ride one of the 5 best trails I’ve ever ridden.
If only Western MA wasn’t the best place on earth to live and ride bikes, I’d move down to Athens or Gainesville and …live in a tent if it meant I could ride 14mph twisty, smooth singletrack all day.

Within an hour and a half from Easthampton: Robinson, Earl’s, Bathcelor St, Hawley, Wendell, Jeepeater, MT Snow, Jiminy Peak, Holiday Farms, Winding Trails in CT. The list goes on and on. We have everything, we have it close, and
the first 5 places I listed are among the 15 best trail systems I’ve ever ridden. I’ve ridden in 37 states too. That’s just mtb riding! Some of the best dirtjumps in the country are 20 miles south of here(no, I can’t tell you where), our CX scene is legendary, and thousands of people come to Franklin Cty every year for D2R2.

Sure, it’s raining right now,winter sucks and we don’t have a velodrome or indoor BMX track(a few underground skate parks though). People here in Western MA don’t give a fuck about the off-season, as the people I’ve met who are shred-heads around here usually are a little bit more multi-dimensional than the bike geeks I’ve met out West.

Sometimes you have a period in your life where things feel a bit off. The light in the woods during magic hour doesn’t make you teary any more. 40mph through the s-turns- all you notice is that your left sti lever rattles and that when you were in college you got to that descent 40 minites quicker with more watts per kilogram than some badass local pros. You don’t ride your mtb because it hasn’t stayed built up for more than a fortnight since 2006, and when it is built, your x9 deraileur doesn’t stay in gear. Your DH bike sits in a corner. The fucking thing falls apart every single time you ride it. Dampers become dampeners. Brakes brake.

I’ve been one of those people for more than half a decade now, I think. For the last month I’ve been stuck with just a bmx bike, trying to figure out how to ride it like a Bicycle Motocross bike, as it was intended by God, and Brian Wilson and Stacy Peralta, Thrasher magazine and Roger DeCoster. In the fucking dirt. In sand pits. In abandoned factories. In back yards, parking lots and hidden trails built by thousands of hours of graft and toil by 14 year olds and 35 year olds working together to keep the scene going. Passive Aggressive in the real sense. Freesurfing God’s race track self-destructively fast. Abraded, broke(n) and totally stoked.

Every pedal stroke is a race- A free race against entropy, direct action against fear, sadness and what at times can be an overwhelming feeling of impending failure, chronic self-doubt and mania and depression that can replace shredding and bleeding when you don’t treat bicycles as what they really are- a scalpel. I’m fat now. I’ve got a bad back and a serious lack of miles in my legs. I never made it as a pro racer. I can’t do a proper table or even get my whips past 45 degrees any more.

Bikes are everything to me. They have been therapy, transportation, a wage, a belief system created by Youth Crew Straight-Edge hardcore ideals, deep ecological anarchism and self-medication through pain. I moved to Western MA to ride. I’ve neglected that for longer than most people have been riding. I focused far too long on being fit, winning races. It seemed like some sort of freedom at the time. The ability to get on my bike and ride a hundred miles really fast, or beat some people in an XC race was how I judged my competence as an athlete and my worth as a human. I wasn’t riding to find The Edge. I was racing to stay ahead waves of my own insecurities, an auto-didactic Audience for my Pain.

Well, fuck pain. I moved here to get a job done. I ain’t broken any more.

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