I always encounter a moment of panic when I’m out on a ride and the sun falls below the horizon. Through the final minutes of dusk, I resist lights and strive to cling on to every lumen of fleeting daylight. The second I embrace the fact that darkness is upon me and finally turn on my lights, I am able to accept and indulge in the magnificent realm of night riding. I seem to find that same pattern of resistance, acceptance, and indulgence every time I head out on a mud ride. I creep down the trail at first in some futile attempt to keep the glop off my face, eluding growing rooster tails and clinging to the hope that I will somehow maintain a state of order and control. Just like how the night will inevitably defeat that waning daylight, there is a tipping point in the wetlands when a rider must succumb to the mud. As my protective layers transform into a soggy sponge and my face becomes encrusted in a patina of earthy minerals, I am able to let loose and feast on the mayhem. I forget the rules of cleanliness and let those glorious hours of my ride turn into a magnificent slip’n slide of grit, slime, roots, and grime.
As rains continue to fall from an open spigot in the northwest sky, devoted riders throw Gore-Tex over their Hawaiian shirts, polish off their goggles and face the beautifully messy process of their loamy trails transforming into MUD.