The forest is so thick it’s threatening to swallow the ing line of dirt running in front of my tire. The Southern Appalachians are like that; so lush and dank that if you pedal fast, the understory and tall hardwood canopy blend into a seamless wall of green. The trail persists through the aggressive flflora and turns into a swooping downhill littered with roots. The trick is to relax and let the bike bounce from one root to the next, like you’re pogo-sticking your way down the slope. It’s good, bouncy entertainment and I have to make a mental note to pace myself. This is just the fifirst bit of fun I have planned for the day. Wait, are we even allowed to have fun right now? I’m not sure, but I’ve stuffffed two ping-pong paddles into my hydration pack just in case our paths cross with an empty table. The world has been weird. Global pandemic. Nationwide protests. Spending an entire day pedaling my bike seems a little frivolous considering the greater unease in the world, but then again, the idea for this particular ride grew out of that same unease.

The plan is to combine all of the random bits of singletrack that exist around my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, into one, seamless ride that circles the city. The idea for this particular ride blossomed while quarantine was in full swing and our national forests and state parks were gated. I started seeking out dirt close to home during the tightest stay-at-home restrictions, and discovered there’s actually a good selection of trails within the city limits of Asheville, skirting the edges of society—tangles of trails on a college campus, jump lines on the edge of a golf course, singletrack beaten in by the homeless along the French

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