Street Youths…


Schmidt loses his car wheels to a roving band of street youths in the terribly irreverent TV show “New Girl.”  With no tires to roll with, Schmidt’s only recourse is to curse this lost generation.

Over the years, generational gaps have seemingly separated us from each other.   One has only to look at the strictly enforced code of “cool” that is the high school experience to see how much difference a mere year can make.  Freshman struggle to be recognized by sophomores and are practically invisible to upper classmen.

As a generation, teens routinely mock anyone over the age of twenty-one.   No less guilty, in my youth I felt that anyone over thirty clearly had one foot in the grave.   Generational disdain goes both ways as evidenced by Schmidt’s helpless denunciation though only a handful of years separated him from the street youths.

Generational mistrust can even be misplaced.  Once while cruising around Heritage Park on our dirt jump bikes, my friend and I were stopped by police for some unnamed infraction.  Sure, it was 11PM at night and we had cloaked ourselves in hoodies but were doing nothing untoward.  After removing our helmets, the youthful officer could see we were twice his age and laughingly released us back into the wilds of Eagle.

All is not lost however.  The age abysses can be crossed when humans join together in activities based on “flow.”   Psychologists describe persons in flow as being so immersed in an activity that they attain feelings of euphoria, hyper focus and life in the moment.   One of the biggest reasons I love mountain biking is because riders of all ages can easily traverse generational chasms by literally throwing a leg over a bike and beginning to pedal.

Nothing is more unifying to a group of riders than hitting a trail littered with big jumps and steep drops.   Maybe because one can so easily slip in to flow when doing this style of mountain biking called freeriding, that age has no bearing.  At the Eagle Bike Park, I have ridden with bikers from fifteen to fifty in ageless bliss as we attacked these jump lines together.

While hitting the Sage Fright trail a few weeks back, I bumped into a riding bro named Chad.  He describes melting into flow within the first few pedal strokes of beginning any freeride trail.  The stresses of life quickly disappear since safely landing jumps of size and consequence requires your full focus—and nothing less.  Even though twenty plus years separate us chronologically, on a trail like this, age is irrelevant.  It’s just the rider, the bike, and the ability to flow that piece of dirt that has any real meaning.

I often ride with a buddy named Jake who just turned sixteen.  He is awesome at skateboarding but fairly new to freeriding.  I marvel as he quickly transfers skating skills honed on the streets and bowls to the smooth jump lines at the bike park.  At the same time, I want to methodically share as much knowledge as possible so he can avoid the pain and suffering that my journey of trial and error has brought.

I recently bought a long board and Jake laughs at my rookie moves as he tries to help.  And so it is—he helps me with long boarding and I help him with freeriding.  Sometimes teacher, sometimes student.  In the end, what is most satisfying is that we are both street youths in a way.  Not by stealing tires but instead by robbing age of its relevance as we dive into wheeled adventures on street and trail.

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