I’m just back from a few weeks in the field. I’m sitting amidst multiple bags of dirty gear, digital storage cards full of data, and a bicycle still enclosed in a tape-laden cardboard box.
As I start to process everything from my GPS and smart phone, I keep thinking about one of my favorites things from childhood.
Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? They were popular in the 1980s and 90s (Gen X and Gen Y!). If they were popular today, they would be found in the Interactive Fiction section of your local bookstore, right next to Teen Paranormal Romance. For those who don’t remember, the books are stories where the reader decides the main character’s actions, directing the outcome of the plot.
It may be a stretch, but I’d like to think that trail maps are the virtual version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Short ride or epic day out, lines and points on paper or on a screen help us decide where we want to go when we pedal away from the trailhead. And like the idea of interactive fiction, every ride we take can be a different experience. Every intersection along the way is determining the outcome of the ride.
With the magic of technology, we can now take the map with us and even add our own points to it. This kind of collaboration is exciting; it’s a way to share what’s both special and important about any given trail. It could range from your favorite rock garden and that steep climb you’ve almost cleaned to a recurring muddy spot along the trail that you would like to help repair. While some could use this information when planning mountain bike vacations, others can use it to help stay informed and act on their local trail issues.
So the next time you go out and ride, think not just about the end of the trail, think about all the points in between; it's how you choose your own adventure.