I reject this view that “real life” is the endless drudgery of staring at screens instead of trees, paying bills, making small talk, and worrying about what our neighbors think of us.

I reject that version of so-called real life, and instead replace it with riding bikes.

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Just because we happen to be good at something--we have a certain set of skills, we've applied ourselves and worked really hard--doesn't mean that we automatically enjoy that thing.

I think that we humans often enjoy feeling adept and useful, confident and knowledgeable, and we can sometimes misinterpret the satisfaction that we derive from that competency as the inherent satisfaction in that activity in question.

Somebody may be really good at bagging groceries at the store. In fact, they might be the best at bagging groceries at the grocery store. But that doesn't necessarily mean that bagging groceries is the end goal of that person's life.

Competency does not equal fulfillment.


Sometimes fear is healthy, and it keeps our bodies in one piece. Choosing not to huck our meat off that 15-foot cliff (or 40-foot cliff like the photo above) is generally a pretty good idea. But then at the same time, fear “is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life,” to quote Donald Miller.

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Rider: Thomas Genon. Photo: Dean Treml / Red Bull Content Pool

While riding new singletrack is (almost) always the best, what I’ve learned from looking at these maps and pedaling some trails this spring for the second time ever is that yes, new singletrack is the best–but you could be doing yourself a massive disservice by disregarding a trail that you’ve ridden before but haven’t pedaled in years.

More here: "Over a Beer: The Paths We Haunt"

As I try to solve problems and determine what my next move should be to get myself out of this royal mess I’ve created, everything within me comes alive. I find my mind working in overdrive, reading topo maps, looking at satellite imagery (if I’m lucky enough to have a signal), reading the mountains, looking for cross-country routes, following deer trails which dead end at steep chasms.

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Life takes effort. Sometimes it seems that every bit of forward movement in life is like pushing your bike up a steep mountainside. And just when you think it can’t get any more difficult, the trail turns so steep, so narrow, so treacherous, that you’re forced to throw your bike across your shoulders, adding an extra 30 pounds of awkward metal tubing and mud-covered rubber onto your shoulders.

In that moment, it can feel like the weight of the world has been made manifest and laid across your scrawny human back.

Whenever I reach this point in life, both literally and metaphorically, I have to ask myself how I move forward from here. Is the weight of the world really on my shoulders? How do I deal with what is at least a constant feeling of pressure?

Seneca has some wisdom to impart on this topic:
“. . .memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.”
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Photo: Marcel Slootheer
Colorado really needs no introduction to anyone who might utter the phrase, “I am a mountain biker.” The mountains in Colorado are some of the biggest and most majestic you’ll find anywhere, and the singletrack is similarly some of the most lust-worthy and enjoyable. But what makes Colorado so unique isn’t the huge mountains and isn’t the fact that it has great trails–you can find those factors in dozens of places around the globe. Rather, it’s the absolutely massive amount of singletrack riding available in this state.

I personally didn’t grasp the scope of the mountain bike opportunities in Colorado until I moved here. Now almost four years into my Colorado citizenship, I only now know how little I actually know.

Coming from out of state and figuring out how to best utilize a week of vacation to ride the very best trails in Colorado is a fool’s errand. You’d have more fun just picking one of a dozen epic destinations and just hanging out and riding around that one town for an entire week… or month. Yet still, still I get asked for a list of the best Colorado bike trails all the time.

Trying to limit the vast expanse of Colorado trails to just five selections is unquestionably a fool’s errand. Yet I’ve done my best, both utilizing highly-rated recommendations from our database and also eliminating trail systems that may be highly-rated, but for poor reasons. While this list can be debated ad infinitum, here are 5 must-ride mountain bike trails in Colorado.

More here: "Five2Ride: 5 of the Best Mountain Bike Trails in Colorado"

Rider: Marcel Slootheer. Photo: Greg Heil