It never fails. At some point on a ride deep into the forest here in the Pacific Northwest my mind begins to wander ... and then play tricks on me. Every blackened tree stump becomes a bear and sounds have a way of being amplified beneath the tree canopy. Snap. Flutter. Foot steps. Rock tumbling.
Often times I like to ride alone. Usually weekends rides are spontaneous trips when I am not roasting. I don't always have the luxury to plan ahead and coordinate with friends so I ride alone. Alone. In the woods.
The thing about riding here in the lush Northwest is that within mere feet into the forest you're thrust into a whole different world. The sunlight (if there is any) is squeezed out. It could be blue skies and sunshine but in the forest the light is dim and the landscape is brooding. With the lushness of vegetation (and loam) means that often times the only sound you hear is your own breath when climbing or your hub buzzing on descents.
I think I've shared this before, and maybe its due to the sensationalization of the media, but on a weekly basis the local paper here in Portland posts stories about people going missing on hikes deep in the forest. Maybe they wandered off the trail, fell of a cliff, or even foul play. Inevitably these headlines crop up when I'm pedaling along in the forest. Could that ever happen to me?
Again, our minds are prone to wander without the playful bantering when riding with friends. Even though I stick the known trail systems it doesn't mean I won't go long stretches without seeing anyone. So why do I ride alone in the woods?
Inevitably this becomes my reset button. After a crazy week of full days (and evenings), deadlines, roasting, emails, social media, and the constant work of growing Loam Coffee I hit the point where I need a reset. That's when I grab my bike and head out for a ride alone. In the woods.
We all have our reasons for riding. Community. Adventure. Pleasure. Exercise. Thrill. For me, it is about hitting the reset button. To disengage. To lose myself. By the time I get back home I'm covered in mud. My bike is covered in mud. But it was worth it.
Alone in the woods.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Deanna Campbell. Rider: Thomas Shaw. Location: North Shore