Life in the Loops - Empty Pockets

Nov 20, 2014
by Dylan Sherrard  
Style.

The warmth of a new morning was glowing gold on the faded hills that frame the view from my balcony. I saw orange and yellow leaves light up as they held tight to their branches. Heavy white pillows of fog were drifting slowly down the river valley and long shadows leaned across the yard. The air was cool and calm and my breath mixed seamlessly with the warm steam rising from the mug that I held between my chilly fingers.

I love the way the world slows down when autumn arrives each year. Time passes all too quickly and it’s far too easy to allow life to become cluttered. But when the sun begins to rise and fall each day on long slow angles, complications are dissolved and everything appears simple again. I kept that in mind as I pedaled up my driveway, and I left my phone, wallet, and keys at home.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

The pavement was loud beneath my tires and the autumn air was cold against my eyes. I cruised on down the road, bouncing in and out of ditches and popping wheelies over driveways. I did a tire grind against a curb and dodged a mailbox, and I carved a hard turn toward the forest and left the world behind me.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

The leaves had changed a time or two since the last time I’d pedaled through the woods. What was once alive and green and full was now exploding in a thousand autumn tones. I climbed steady and the air stung inside my chest but the harder I pedaled the warmer I became. The forest floor was a maze of frost and fallen leaves and I struggled to find traction beneath nearly every pedal stroke.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

As always, the struggle resolved with a state of bliss when I looked back down at where I came from. Atop the trail the sun was warm on my skin. The fog burned out of the valley and the sky was clear and blue. There wasn’t a single bird in a tree or even a gentle breeze to disturb the fallen leaves. I sat still in the afternoon silence without a single sound in my ear.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

I couldn't imagine a more pleasant scene than the one that lay out before me that autumn afternoon. And I wished that everyone could be so lucky as to see the world the way that I saw it in that moment. I wished that they too could slow down for a minute, and sit still, and look at everything that surrounds them. Maybe if we could all embark on a mellow solo ride beneath the autumn sky we wouldn't all be in such a rush.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

I thought it a bit scary, the way the things we keep in our pockets can sort of control us. Advanced electronic devices in our front pockets can make us so busy, so important, and so entitled. Plastic cards in our wallets make us chase after things we don’t need.

I sat still for a short while longer. Soaking in the moment for all it was worth. After all, those late fall rides are fragile and exist in chance for only short periods of time. But if I lay there a lot longer the trees would soon become silhouettes and the sun would then sink behind them. So I stood up to carry on my way and patted my pockets to make sure I was ok. And I wished to never find myself too far from that forest and those comforts that I enjoyed on that autumn day, and I smiled as I began pedaling home with all I needed in my empty pockets.

Life In The Loops - Empty Pockets

Banner image courtesy of Riff Stills.

Keep up with Dylan between issues of Life In The Loops on The Kona Cog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram.

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98 Comments

  • 110 4
 It occured to me that although he left his phone,wallet and keys behind, he took a photographer with him.
  • 3 2
 LOL, well said...
  • 24 3
 Bear Grylls parachutes from a helicopter deep into the wilderness of Alaska, using only his cunning survival skills to make it out alive...and a camera crew with guns, tents, food, and snowmobiles! Legend has it that Bear Grylls slept in a hotel when he was in Southern Utah...
  • 1 0
 just cannot live without it
  • 14 1
 I guess he's never broken a leg or suffered any other serious accident while out riding, take a phone (switch if off if that helps) and at least carry some ID so the rescue services can trace relatives etc.
  • 1 0
 true though ive broken my femur hip and left shoulder out once and was happy to have my phone, I still like riding without it, but I may hold back a little more on those rides.
  • 3 1
 Dylan must have remembered the rules from the video "How to be a mountain biker". LOL
  • 5 2
 None of you folks would have read the article, if it weren't for the photos, no?
  • 5 6
 have you guys aver been to kamloops? I guess not, it is a magic place and he shares it with us and then you come up with such stupid comments? thanks !
  • 1 0
 bear grylls is aight i guess but les stroud on the other hand is the real deal, he doesnt just survive on his own for a week, he does all the filming himself as well. camera crews are the safety net behind bear grylls, and even this guy without his cell phone. if anything happens, camera guy whips out his smartphone and calls a ambulance. not saying thats a negative thing, i never ride alone and always bring a phone.
  • 4 0
 I don't really know why we're talking about Bear Grylls, but people are so quick to hate on him for bringing a camera crew. Honestly I could care less who he brings along, he is ex special forces and know his stuff. I have no doubt if he was stuck in the wilderness he could survive. The camera crew is just for better production value. All of the lessons that he teaches still apply. Just my 2 cents.
  • 8 0
 Rode solo this morning with my phone and car keys in my hydration pack. Also have a waterproof med kit and a bag of quick clot in there. Not once did I stop to think that those things were blocking me from the purity of riding alone in the woods.
  • 1 0
 I would at least have taken glasses
or goggles - so enduro :-)
  • 1 0
 Glad I had my phone and friends with me when I slashed my shoulder open on a rock and was bleeding out. Just saying
  • 2 0
 Bear Grylls is not doing reality TV. He says he is going to show you how to survive such and such location. It doesn't say he will be dropped in the wilderness and have to make his way 500 miles to civilization with only his bare guts and trusty knife etc. It's the difference between an Emeril cooking show, showing you how to make something, and a reality show competition like Masterchef. That said, all this has nothing to do with this piece and the point of it, to inspire you to drop your iPhone and get out and ride, which was completely lost on some people. Now we are talking about "Man vs Wild".
  • 1 1
 yeah, survivorman's better.
  • 1 0
 @whitebullit - except he uses stuff from his $10k worth of video and audio equipment to survive, which is pointless as a guide to show you how to survive the elements.
  • 60 4
 Nice ride. But since I ride alone, I always have my phone. I occasionally will hear it "alert", but it never gets checked while the ride is in progress. But it gives me a safe feeling that if something bad were to happen I wouldn't be stranded by myself in the middle of nowhere.
  • 5 2
 i think i will put some min in my phone.....but i think 911 is free??? from any cell phone???
  • 7 3
 i don't like leaving without my phone, what if something goes wrong and my mate gets badly hurt? or i need to get picked up because ive got a puncture?
  • 24 2
 I think you guys might be missing the point... The feeling of disconnected from the rush and heading into the woods with no distractions is a truly incredible feeling.
  • 8 0
 Phone, wallet and TP. Kind of a pain to take until you need it. Freedom lives where you let/invite it.

Fly be free- Mork
  • 9 2
 I was thinking about it lately... I realize there are people riding miles into wilderness very often, but at least in Europe people rarely go on a ride anywhere further than 30mins away from civilisation - whatever happens to me, if I can't deal with situation being so close to human settlements, then I better not leave the house at all. I like the old school method - tell someone which trails you are going to ride/hike
  • 3 0
 I think that's part of the idea. Being completely disconnected comes with risks, as does biking. So the feeling you get without your phone is worth it to some people, but not worth it to others. The other part of leaving your phone is that it can get pretty annoying going off when you're riding.
  • 2 0
 Just buy a cheapo £5 phone to take on MTB rides, put in your emergency contacts and you're sorted. A Nokia wont break if you fall off too Smile
  • 3 0
 I love to ride sans phone. Yes, I realize I could die out there and no one would be any the wiser for some time, and that some kind of GPS unit on the phone might make it easier to find my corpse, but I'm pretty much with WAKIdesigns on this. A note or word to someone with an idea of where you've gone, or figure that someone'll notice that the bike is gone from the garage, the car is still there and there is a fabulous trail network nearby that gets regular traffic.
  • 1 1
 I passed out one time solo in Demo Forest after devouring a bunch of Taco Bell then immediately jumping on the bike, flying down Hihns Mill and riding up Corral trail. I think I was out a minute or so...Could've been eaten by bears! Nobody knew where I was and I left phone in truck!
  • 12 0
 phones are nice, but think back 15 years ago. we were all fine without them then right?
  • 3 2
 If you need a phone in an emergency, you'll wish you brought it... Take it, and show some self control as to not use it unless needed.
  • 3 0
 thanks for the advice
  • 3 0
 @keystonesbikes - well put. I also agree with shredhard, sometimes you have to put all of the crap away because when you get down to it, you don't need it and it's clutter that complicates those moments alone. Life involves risks everyday of varying degrees, without them life would be predictable, boring. I often work in the backcountry alone, have been injured and believe me, the safety nets of cell phones, satellite trackers etc are not always as reliable, or helpful as you might think when you are out alone. They have their place, but if injury worries you then do yourself a favour and learn some wilderness survival and first aid skills. You can get yourself out of a lot of jams if you know what to do. No-one is as concerned about your bacon as you are.
  • 2 0
 well put g123, just know what u r doing, i laugh at people that say stuff like "i dont know what i would do without my phone" cmon people, we ride mtbs in the freakin woods. what r u gonna do when a bear charges u anyway? throw your phone at him? just ride like hell haha
  • 1 0
 Even though I have my phone, most of the places I am riding I do not get any cell phone coverage anyways. When I do need to use it, I have bare minimum contact opportunity. And I'm just north of LA!
  • 4 0
 oh never ever forget your camera crew though. what if something awesome happens?!
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns "but at least in Europe people rarely go on a ride anywhere further than 30mins away from civilisation" ... er say whaaat??? I've been further than 30 minutes from civilisation on many an occasion in Europe. Not sure where you're from, but if it's europe, you need to try harder Wink
  • 1 1
 The cost of the phone call is nothing compared to the pain of laying on the side of the trail in agony, helpless.
  • 2 0
 CuddlyToast - yes I agree. But look at it this way as well (just a thought) So you go out to ride bike at mad speeds, you send it off 20ft jumps and drops, ride down 45deg+ long steeps - you basically like taking risks. Quite big risks to be honest. Now how does taking a phone to call home fall into it? And if there is no coverage or Strava takes your battery power away, shouldn't you take satellite phone? I get what you are saying, I take phone myself but hey there's too many people relying on it. It's like: MUMMA I'm gunna jump from that 20ft drop and you can't stop me! It may feel hardcore I know, but this is my passion this is what I want to do! Just please pick me up and clap my butt if I crash. There is some consequence missing, that's all I am saying.
  • 1 0
 Riding without a phone is a needless risk in my book. A friend broke his femur a couple years ago in a remote location of a local park. This is a life threatening injury. It is easy to bleed to death internally from such a break. Even with an immediate call to 911, it took hours to get him to a hospital. First a stretcher was needed to carry him to an ATV trail. There he was put on an ATV and driven to a gravel road. A truck took him from that gravel road to a waiting helicopter. Without a phone, he might be dead.
  • 1 0
 riding without a phone seems pretty stupid, possibly dying just so you can feel 'disconnected'
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns valid point. Most PB'ers are internet tough guys anyways. The fact that people are so caught up in the matrix, that they physically have to leave their phones at home for peace, is almost laughable, if it wasn't so depressing.

Don't get me wrong, I've been caught plenty of times riding without a cellphone, or the proper equipment. This is probably why i ride more prepared now. It just seems like an asinine argument, to talk about the "rush" of not being prepared for the situation. I prefer to get my jolly's from actually riding my bike, as opposed to leaving my pack at home. I bet these people dont carry spare tubes either, and expect people like me to help a brother out.

I should also point out, every bike ride is a calculated risk. While the phone may not work in some areas, or batteries run out, id rather have a fighting chance, as opposed to purposefully tying my hands behind my back.
  • 3 0
 if i die cuz i dont have a phone while mt biking, i wouldnt care. that is the way id want to go anyway. think of the glory!
  • 6 0
 What is life anyways? We're all just, like, stardust, man.
  • 1 0
 I live and ride where there is no cell service so this is very relatable. well written
  • 23 4
 "Plastic cards in our wallets make us chase after things we don’t need." - the companies which advertise with pinkbike might not be happy about that! Cycling is great for emptying pockets, of cash! Wink
Seriously though, fantastic article, getting away from it all is about as good as it gets!
  • 19 1
 Hahaha, I hear you on that one! That statement is more in regard to financing yourself silly over things like Tv's, big shiny trucks and crazy houses.
  • 11 2
 Yeah man, am at uni but not drinking or clubbing and only eating ramen noodles to afford a new frame Razz I know my priorities! XD
  • 9 1
 Yeah money don't buy happiness... It buys bikes, which is basically the same thing!
  • 3 1
 You're a damn good writer dylawn. I mean rider. I mean both! Always look forward to your pieces. Keep 'em coming!
  • 4 3
 big houses and trucks don't cause unhappiness. people cause unhappiness. don't assume that there is anything wrong with the trappings of success: houses, cars, a good life, etc. or you can believe in the myth of mtb that you can only be happy if you are a dropout/bum living on Cheetos and Cheez Wizz
  • 15 1
 It was such a nice day, till I got back home and realised I should really have brought my front door key with me..
  • 2 1
 Had to break into my own house then, sort of put a negative on the whole day
  • 12 2
 "Plastic cards in our wallets make us chase after things we don’t need."

...Except for bike parts
  • 9 2
 Mellow solo ride?

No Strava KOMs for you.
  • 3 0
 the problem in Aus is that most of your rides aren't that close to civilisation, so if you crash/get bitten/run out of water you're fooked. just heading out and keeping a safety kit of stuff in your bag is the way to go, if you can't resist the temptation to check your phone when it's off in your bag you're probably a zombie already.
  • 5 1
 My brain can't Process the fact that this bike is so damn awesome! Props to Kona for making bikes that can battle with the established brands nowadays!
  • 2 0
 153 rides amzing, the 167 must be even better.
  • 2 1
 i only rode the 153, its a a hell of a bike i must say! still prefer my capra i must say Smile
  • 2 0
 I'm hoping my new range c downhills somewhat as good as the '53 does.
Nvr got to test the range (deal on one found me)
  • 3 1
 Yeah, can't say I've ever ridden one before... But I think I'm Kona try one sometime.
  • 6 0
 I like riding with no cell phone, despite knowing this isn't a smart idea.
  • 2 0
 me too. l rarely bring one
  • 1 0
 Folks are missing the point here - it's about disconnecting, not the specifics of whether or not you have your key or phone. I love rides with no attachment - makes one appreciate the sport and nature more.
  • 1 0
 I would just switch it off and chuck it in my backpack and forget about it. Regardless, it is about the state of mind and escapism associated with riding alone with nature.
  • 2 0
 Nicely done. I love it when the words lend more than the pictures - and the pictures were great.
"So I stood up to carry on my way and patted my pockets to make sure I was ok." Dr. Seuss, Robert Frost, t.s.eliot and even Marshall Mathers might approve (although the latter prefers far more complex rhymes).

Thanks for the story and photos!
  • 2 0
 Some of us have been riding long enough (ahem old git) to remember going into the hills and mountains without a mobile phone as they hadn't been invented then. You didn't take your car keys because you couldn't afford a car so you rode 10-15 miles each way just to get to the hills. When you got home on your rigid steel MTB you didn't write about it on the internet because that hadn't been thought of yet either!

That was a long time ago. So don't be daft, take your phone and turn it off.
  • 1 0
 @duir I started riding MTB 28 yrs ago, no shocks, no helmet, no phone. Now I own a fullsuspension bike, a decent helmet (no not an enduro helmet) an a phone. it's always turned of while riding. can't stand the ringing while riding.
If something would happen, I would accuse myself of not have taken one with me.
The question is, can I use the phone in case of emergency, am I too handicapped? Is there coverage? So many questions I didn't ask myself 15 yrs ago
  • 2 1
 Even if you tell someone where you are going, things still go wrong. I broke my ankle this summer, riding alone, and if I had not had my phone it would have been epic. As it was, I was in agony in the woods for a couple of hours until a friend came and carried me out. So...turn it off, yes, but make sure its charged and you have it with you.
  • 2 1
 my girlfriend called today during my ride. i stopped and answered (she's in cali for work, we live in PA), stopping strava in the process. we chatted for a little and then i got back to my ride. forgetting to restart strava. i rode my usual winter loop and got back to the car to see my mistake. at first, i was pissed, "i know i crushed that last dh". but on the way home, i realized i had just as much fun as i usually do. tomorrow i'm not even turning strava on
  • 4 0
 "tomorrow, I'm not even turning Strava on..."

Enlightenment!
  • 1 0
 what is strava?
noodles?
  • 2 0
 yea, its spaghetti with maple syrup
  • 3 0
 Ah, peace in the woods with me, myself, and the photo crew
  • 1 0
 If there is still cell phone coverage in the area you are riding you are not really far enough out to be disconnected, are you?
  • 3 1
 The only thing i empty my pockets of is money!
  • 3 1
 All my money makes noise. $ comes and goes. I think you're good if $ doesn't = happiness. $ just takes the sting out of being poor.
  • 1 0
 This is why living in the city is killing me on the inside. No good, quiet places to ride and relax. Someday though.
  • 2 0
 photo of the day, maybe week. really cool shot! #6, including title shot.
  • 1 0
 Nice, grew up in kamloops, graduated from Norkam . Still have to get my ass up there and do some trails and sun peaks
  • 1 0
 Hard to use a phone if you're by yourself and unconscious..........just saying.
  • 2 0
 Just borrow Grandma's Lifealert "Help I Fallen and I can't get up!" Oh and write the name of trails you're riding with a sharpie on Granny's forehead!
  • 1 0
 What if you forget your phone, and things take an unexpected turn? How will you instagram it?
  • 1 0
 Photo no 4 (banner at very top counted as no 1- Oh man...
  • 1 0
 And that wheelie shot! So sik
  • 1 0
 Empty pockets- that's why all your stuff is now on the buy/sell? Hahaha
  • 1 0
 Is he wearing a Niqhab under his helmet?
  • 1 0
 Which process bike is he riding ?!
  • 1 0
 153
  • 1 0
 cool to see a mtn biker that can actually write pretty decently
  • 2 1
 Dylan should right a book.
  • 1 0
 Great words.
  • 1 1
 you know it's #enduro if it's color-coordinated bright blue and green Smile
  • 1 0
 ya kona come back
  • 1 0
 Deep.
  • 1 0
 #stravaoritdidntcount
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