Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

A flaming autumn day´s ride, trail etiquette, cuppa tea and knife testing with a sundown as icing-perfect, I´ll take it.

 Yesterday, th sun was out and the day exploded with colours ever so vibrantly. I am currently depressed quite often, what with neither time nor money resulting in longtime "friends" taking their excuse, so to say, and grey weather in the bargain.

But one thing has always been certain to me: The woods are out there, and the spruce tops are singing in the wind. It was the first sound in my life I heard, for after I was born in hospital, I lived in the forest for 33 years. I think to remember opening my eyes from a sleep that was deeper than life, and awakening to the wonder of green, with the vibrantly green leaves and the dark green of the spruce and fir tops moving in a breeze. There were runes there I could not decipher, and of runes i knew not in the first place, but I was calm immediately and looked at the gently moving signs amazed. It is a world that has always embraced me, and it was never natural for me to live in a city, and all the roaring noise frightened me as a kid. Now, as someone who is seen as an adult;-), I know exactly why it frightened me. I overcame my fears and now there is but a mild pity left for the ways of modern day man, and, with a sense of self - irony I realize that I am part of the whole mess already. I have to, as anyone has to, at least to a certain degree, partake in the everyday madness.

And yet, the woods are waiting. They are not self - conscious. They just exist. They are not nice, and you might die there as well as live, and the trees and beasts could not care less. But if you really want to, you can become a part of it all, and all that will not matter any more. It is not important if you are "but" a newborn child or a grown individual, in fact, you stand more of a chance understanding it as a whole if you see it with the eyes of a newborn child. And since it is not possible to refer to that phenomenon intelligently, for it is autotelic, I will shut up about that for now and tell you about the ride.
 I rode towards the hills, and I was quite exhausted, but I carried on and made it into the woods.
 I was rewarded ever so richly with the flaming gold of a low sun in a crystal-blue sky. The air was cold and frisky, and every silhouette was standing out clear and sharp in this clean atmosphere. This space made me breathe deep and calm, and, even if the trail went uphill quite technically challenging, I managed without a dabbing of a foot. Then I saw two horseback riders approaching in the distance. Noticing one of the horses was rather shy, I pulled to the side of the trail to let them pass and waved them on. As they passed, we had a chat, and this chat turned out in a way chats like this unfortunately have a habit of turning out; both of them were quite amazed that I had let them pass and had some friendly words for them, for normally mountainbikers yell at them, slam into their horses (which is a most silly thing to do, for who wants to be confronted with a ton of whinnying, kicking, biting, half - mad horse must have but some three brain cells, and those situated in the Amygdala at best), find it funny to scream at the horses while passing at top speed from behind. I have to believe those two horseback riders (and the many others I have talked to, and I sometimes feel ashamed for my "fellow" mountainbike riders. Many are Testosterone-blind morons only interested in their own "fun", which mostly consists in putting the hurt to their "fellow" riders. In my time in the club I have encountered every facet of antisocial behavior, from slightly moron to outright dangerous, from relishing in hurting others up the hill to leaving injured riders with a wrecked bike in the middle of nowhere and laughing afterwards about that while telling the tale, to spooking horses and destroying private property just in the name of the almighty "fun". Those individuals are, in my book, retarded, anti - social, superficial arseholes. I have worked for trail access since 1990, I have worked for bettering the communication between the "user" groups of the woods, and, for the most part, have lived to the IMBA rule codex.

I took my trash home.
I controlled my speed.
I respected other trail users.
I avoided shortcuts and stuck to the trails.
I avoided offensive behavior such as yelling, skidding, and jumping at the encounter of other trail users.
I only modified trails with the permission of the land owner / the forest bureau or rebuilt the natural state after doing so.

Of course, there are morons amongst the other user groups as well, but, hey, if you do not communicate, you cannot better any situation. And if you behave like an asshole, you deserve to be treated as one, mountainbiker or not.

The culprit is, I had a chat with those two horseback riders, told them to address the website in case they had one of those unfortunate encounters again, we wished each other to have a fine day and went on our merry way, content with the fact that we had done something good. Simple as that. And it does not mean you can´t have fun. I had. I took the next trail down the hill, and really let loose.

But, if you don´t know what brakes are for, you should not ride a bike. Period. I know, and if anyone asks, I will teach anyone, for free even if you ask politely enough.

But, as is my wont these days, shredding simply does not suffice all of the time. So I visited my oaken friend atop the hill overlooking that lake (I hope you appreciate I spared you another picture of the vista*ggg*). There, I had a cuppa tea (ten, in fact;-)), an apple and some bannock, and out came the bush knife for some testing.
 It´s the one I made in the Bethaus smithy the other day. I put a bevel on it (not that it needed it:-), take note I was proud:-/)
 I did a quick leather wrapping to the handle and it was ready to go.
 Spine thickness is about 6mm. The blade is 140 mm long, and made from selectively tempered spring steel that has seen some very conservative heat treating. It supports my weight. As a prybar, it´s a cinch!
 First came the prying test. I slammed it up to 1 cm into that log and levered the tip out-no damage whatsoever. In fact, I kicked it with my boots to pry it out. No harm done.
 Then I hacked halfway through that log. Then I realized that a cylindrical handle shape as with that knife is not feeling exactly right for that kind of task. Also, I blistered my hand on the sharp butt of the handle. Not so good. What was more grave is that it did not shave after that. But I forgot to test sharpness before, so it might as well be the bevel was not fine enough in the first place. I have to check it out encore un fois at home.

I leant the ride gainst a tree and snuck inside the stems of the three-stemmed oak...
 I sipped my tea and savoured the golden light and the fading warmth. Then I had the sensation of warmth radiating from the bark of the tree itself, and not only the energy it had stored from the light of the sun. It warmed me from my belly up, my heart as well as my head. I smiled, had another swig of tea and thanked the tree for its gift.
 It has been the source of many mocking, cynical remarks by many people I met, but, yes, I love trees. I love them as a piece of creation, as my fellow beings, and for no reason especially as well.
 In the depth of the bark, there were tiny ants squirrelling along, and in the cold autumn air some few midgets were dancing their strange dances, their wings translucent with flaming, golden light.
 There are worlds inside worlds, worlds above, inside and neighbouring, life everywhere even in the autumn, even in winter. Life itself is wonderful and deserves better than the ridiculous mess humans make of it.

I then really enjoyed practicing my feather stick skills with my new Nessie. It makes some really delicate shavings. It feels light and nimble. Not a knife for hacking, though, even if batoning works quite well, too. There are better whittlers, too, due to the offset of the edge line, but you can grow accustomed to that. I think I´ll make more like this...
 Then the sun was sinking, and I relished in the vibrating colours.

 I put my headlamp on and made for the trail home. By the way, I was on the road with the last shred of light. I have, of course, done rides where I could not avoid being in the forest after dark with a torchlight on, but doing so scares the animals, who need all the rest they can get in winter. So please, if you have any sense in you, do not ride at max speed with max headlight on through the woods. Going silently and unlighted is another matter, if you can do so, or, if you must, stick to fireroads that are also widely frequented during the day. That way, animals can grow accustomed to your impact and do not panic all the time.
 Overlooking the hills of home with the last shred of light.
It was a beautiful day, and a solemn calm filling me up to the brim. Of course, all the peace in my heart did wear off suddenly with my next encounter with the next urban human, but that´s another story, and it´s not worth telling at all.

The light, however, and the energy of the trees, are mine. And noone can ever take it from me.

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