A Hand Drawn MTB Adventure in 'Keeping it close'

Jul 7, 2020 at 3:16
by Anders  




Splat! My daughter leaves no uncertainties over the breakfast I just made her as the first bits of oatmeal come flying through our kitchen. I ponder the insane sticking ability of dried oatmeal and the many places it is now spread over our kitchen. Forget about foam tire inserts, maybe I should just put oatmeal in there? It seems impenetrable. No time to solve that riddle, our day has already skipped past me and I ́m already jumping through hoops to catch up with it.

Later that day I'm at work when a friend texts me and asks me if I want to go for an evening ride. I ́m dying to go but this would mean being away from home for at least 2-3 hours which on this day really isn't ́t possible.

Having a kid quickly made me realize that if I intend to ride my bike often, riding needs to be close. I have to bring the riding to me instead of spending time transporting myself to trail heads. Not less relevant these days with an ongoing pandemic with its restrictions and social distancing.
With this in mind, I went out on a scouting mission in the immediate area around my village.

What I didn't ́t find was 500m of vertical drop with loamy terrain, possibilities of big jumps, steep tech sections and a mint 1969 Ford F100 pickup truck to shuttle me up and down. In other words, the spot of my dreams. Instead, I found a hill with 10 m of vertical drop consisting of rocky terrain and my old Volvo still parked in the driveway. But it was less than 5 minutes from my house. With a shovel in hand, I began a slow attempt at building a little trail that is compatible with everyday life.

Coming home from work I stuff some snacks in my backpack and manoeuvre my daughter into her rowdy outside clothes. We walk to my trail which is now 100 m long with 8 turns, one tiny gap jump and some narrow rock drops. It really is nothing impressive but it ́s really fun to ride.
Work is heavier with a kid on your back but the constant commentary is priceless.

We set out to work on a shark-fin-type jump, me with a shovel and my daughter with her plastic spade and bucket. I can ́t help but smile as her imagination quickly carries her from the present and into that world we all visited as kids. She ends up taking away most of the dirt I´ve just put there but I don ́t mind. It ́s a really great moment. Looking back up the trail I realize that we ́ve basically built this trail together. Many times with her sleeping in her pram or just hanging along in a backpack carrier.

My daughters imagination carries her far away.

Suddenly I ́m yanked from this thought as I realize that half an hour has passed and my kid needs a refuel. Her face is grimy with dirt and the plastic spade has lost all of it ́s charm.
We stop for a snack before we go home. Sitting on a fallen tree she is murdering a piece of fruit, laughing at ants as the sun sits low behind the treetops. Bedtime is quickly coming up and it ́s time to go home.

Well earned snack break.

Putting her to sleep guilt washes over me. Dragging my kid into the woods to work on something that ́s made for my own amusement. Shouldn't we be at some designated playground with facilities made just for her? I feel completely selfish and the scale of parental conscience is tipping completely the wrong way. I feel like the worst parent ever.
I go back to the trail in the evening, this time alone and I manage to finish the feature we worked on a few hours before. The first few runs are a little shaky but it works really well in the end.

I sit down by the trailside and look at what we ́ve created together. Slowly that nagging guilt from before transforms into thankfulness.

First runs on a newly built feature are sometimes pretty scary but always so rewarding.

This little trail enables me to spend more time at home and still keep my wits about me by allowing me to ride my bike every now and then. It ́s also pretty neat how this was just a few vertical meters of hill a while back, now a winding little trail with jumps and turns. Features that are shaped from the variations in the hill they stand on and hopefully soon shared with other riders.

Bringing my kid along to play while I work on this project is also a perfect opportunity for her to explore her own creativity in an environment that isn't prefabricated. A rare thing in a world that ́s becoming increasingly modeled and structured according to set standards. At the end of the day, I got a chance to spend time with my daughter outside in the woods, showing her a tiny piece of the many possibilities it harbors. All of them ready to be discovered with some grit and imagination.
I can ́t think of anything else I would rather share with my kid.
-


35 Comments

  • 58 0
 I love this, more please.
  • 3 0
 I second this!
  • 5 0
 Beautiful words and illustrations that speak volumes. This content is Gold.
  • 1 0
 Beautiful! Yes, more please.
  • 20 0
 Thank you all for the positive feedback and kind words! Very stoked. Also great to hear everyones own experience around this stuff!
  • 2 0
 Great job. She'll never forget playing in the dirt with dad. She looks about the right size for a MacRide seat...
  • 16 0
 Anders, you are an amazing person! So much skill, so much speed, so much style... and now this!
  • 5 0
 That was a really good read. I've just had our second baby and I struggle to find time to ride. This inspired me. The drawing made it feel more original and creative too. Well done. Keep the building going.
  • 7 0
 Love that style. Brilliant mate. Beer
  • 3 0
 Great story and very relevant for a lot of us. My boys are age 5 and 6 now and have been keeping my riding mostly very local for over 6 yrs. I've had them sweeping the pump track and the youngest will soon be riding properly so loads of family trail rides to look forward to soon :-)
  • 3 0
 this was awesome, really well done. I have 2 kids in tow... seeing their smile when they put their tires to the dirt is so great, every little bump is such fun with them. Bonus is they now think i'm a pro rider for hitting that sweet jump... I'm ok with it.
  • 7 0
 You’re a good dad.
  • 2 0
 Beautiful story and loved the writing style. Never feel guilty about spending any type of time with your kids. We just got back from vacation where me and my oldest found ourselves digging a 150 yard long trail... best vacation ever!
  • 2 0
 Thank you for writing this. Not long ago I bought my 6 year old daughter her first real bike (not from walmart) and she's growing to be a lil shredder. I love spending time on the trails with her, even though I have to wait up most of the time. Best part is she loves riding! Everyday she asks to go outside and ride her bike. I recently discovered some singletrack behind our house that looks like it has been severely neglected. ruts, blown out berms, harsh landings, way overgrown. I always took for granted the fact that people actually have to maintain the trails for us to ride and enjoy them. It's time I take up my own shovel and contribute. Funny, I just mentioned to my wife a couple days ago that I want to invest in a weed eater/hedge trimmer combo. She didn't understand why, since we are renting an apartment and all of our landscape is maintained by the property mgmt haha #keepingitclose
  • 2 0
 Between Nathan and Vinny's contribution the other day and this, I'm absolutely loving the artistic route things have taken during this time where there's more or less nothing to write about.

Well done guys Smile
  • 3 0
 A beautiful little story. I don’t have a child, but this feels relatable in so many ways that much of the content on here doesn’t.
  • 2 1
 This was a great read. It reminds me of raising my daughter in nature and starting in 2nd grade taking her down the city street into the woods where we would play, explore, build and ride together. It seems like just yesterday but now she is preparing to go to college next month. We still ride nearly every day but now it’s me trying to keep up with her. Coming From the set structures and confines of the Midwest city and the woods trail we built , to now living in the mtb capital of the US(shared with Marin county of course, never you Bentonville) to her already a sponsored elite athlete and top in the state who knew playing in the dirt would lead to here. Your daughter is better off with the imagination and love that nature brings so don’t ever doubt yourself on taking her out there with you
  • 1 0
 Wow. This was so well done. As a parent of 3 little people I can relate on many levels. My daughters have joined me countless times in the woods building kickers and raking trails and lopping branches. All time so well spent. Cheers.
  • 3 0
 Awesome depiction of imagination, passion, and love for living!!!! Cheers!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Yup. Had to make a big change in mindset from seeking 2-4 hour rides and post session beers, to 45min-1 hour rips and then back home to help out. And great artwork!
  • 2 0
 Hi Anders, great story and drawings. Are these hand-drawn pencil and then scanned digitally? Or are these drawn on a screen with a tablet stylus or something? Great work!
  • 3 0
 Thank you! All drawings are hand made in pencil and then scanned digitally.
  • 3 0
 This made my day, thanks for sharing it!
  • 2 0
 Great story and pictures- so much talent
  • 2 0
 Can wait to live a version of this story with my kid!
  • 2 0
 Super cool! Well written and crazy good drawings (and riding)!!
  • 1 0
 I would say this man has the life, work, parenting conundrum sorted out pretty well. Good job.
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike, do a tshirt print collab with this guy. I’ll pre-order today.
  • 2 0
 Awesome stuff.
  • 1 0
 this was really nice. Thanks for sharing!
  • 1 0
 Thank you Anders for sharing this with us!
Amazing illustrations ????
  • 1 0
 Hmm the emoji went to 4 question marks... sorry...
  • 1 0
 Fantastic. Thank you for sharing!
  • 1 0
 Love it! Keep them coming! And I totally relate also.
  • 1 0
 Yes!

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