Words and photos by Greg
There is a convoluted web of trails that flow through my nighttime dreams, where connections are found and lost, where the flow of trails can be sweet and smooth or where I can find myself again in the thick, wet forest, bumping and sliding over logs on the edge of the stream where the trail disappears or I can no longer find it.
The trails I ride are familiar, or so I believe, those mornings when I wake with the lingering sense of them. Dreams, for me, are rarely remembered, but the trails that live within them seem to lay out patterns that I have ridden through many nights, where I have become intimate with the turns, twists, intersections, and obstacles of each, the way a tongue becomes familiar with teeth.
The rides I dream of take me to places that the trails of my waking life do not. But they are not over-glorious, nor extra vivid, nor idealized. I do not ride in a magical landscape past unicorns. I do not fly over massive gap-jumps or charge effortlessly through horrific jumbles of rock. The trails of my dreams are hard-working journeyman trails of serpentine singletrack, bread-and-butter step-ups, corners that rail but are not bermed, sprinkled with moves that keep me alert but allow me to flow. There is dust. There is mud. My dreams are not all downhill. I pedal up climbs and breathe the hard breath of honesty.
I ride these dreams with a friend or two. I ride these dreams alone. There are trails warmed with companionship and there are times when it is only my own motion that heats the trail.
I have a sense that within these dreams I always choose the long way home. Some nights I return on strands of familiar trails. Some nights I seem to leave the known trails to experiment with another way. I roll onto trails that I have not ridden before, in directions that could be right, but lead into unknown places in the forest of my night. Sometimes these trails become a new long way home. Sometimes they end in tatters where the only way forward seems to be to wake up and leave the dream for another night.
Perhaps the trails of my dreams actually are vivid, idealized and glorious. Because they are very much like the trails I ride in the waking world. Trails that are filled with rough flow. Trails that weave through colors and contours. Trails that pull the sweat of effort from me. Trails I've ridden a hundred times and trails where I have never been. Trails that, dreaming or not, make me want to take the long way home.