There’s something spiritual, sacred, fulfilling, and downright fun about mountain biking. It’s an addiction, except that the side effect is a healthy lifestyle. It is a sport and hobby of risk. If you’re not getting hurt out on the trail you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. Since I don’t like pain, I usually ride to the upper limit of my comfort threshold and just kind of stay there. I have a family to take care of, for crying out loud. Nonetheless, I still ride, and take risks.

As much as I try to avoid pain and mayhem on the trails, you can’t be in the biking community without encountering them. I love my scars. I was at a coffee shop talking with a friend who’s an avid road cyclist and mountain biker, when this other dude was walking by on the way to the john. His arm was in a sling and he was walking with one crutch. As he passed by me, he saw my mountain bike tattoo above my right ankle. Instant connect. He stopped, talked, and told his story. It’s interesting how within the biking world you’re instant friends. He went on to tell us of his recent run-in with a Lexus SUV coming down the road. Despite a few broken ribs, knee surgery, and a broken collarbone, he was all smiles as he told his story. Afterwards, my friend and I began lifting up sleeves or pant legs showing our scars and telling our stories.

My favorite scar is from a mountain bike ride in the desert outside of Tucson. I was biking with a friend and we were about a mile out from the trailhead. The last big obstacle to tackle was a twenty-foot-wide dry and sandy wash bed. The sand is thick, and you need all the momentum you can muster to make it across, only to have to climb up a sandy slope to get out of it. It’s a fun challenge. I was almost through the wash when my right foot slipped out, shot forward, and hit my front tire. My leg then was thrown back and went right into my chain ring. Ah yes, and it was a brand new chain ring as sharp as a knife. (This was one of the reasons why I later switched to singlespeeds and after that a 1x10.) Luckily (sarcasm!) my left leg was peddling because when my right one hit the chain ring, it sliced me right open. I was filleted. I looked down and all I could see was the white skin and the fat in it down to the tendon. There was about a four-inch, perfectly sliced open gash on the back of my leg starting at my heel and working its way up. So I did what any other mountain biker would do ... I rode back to the trailhead, took photos, and then I went to the emergency room.

Stories. Stories from scars.

In our world, stories are big and we all have them. Stories are what define us a lot of times. What stories do your scars tell? What adventures do they remind you of?

Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photo credit: Robin Munshaw