I need to ride when the snow melts, and the dirt is fresh. Need, as in I lose my shit if I don’t. It’s how I stay sane enough to flow through the day without getting all koo-koo pants. It’s my clarity reset, an hour and a half of uninterrupted FOCUS, because to lose focus means possibly making a mistake, which at speed means pain and hospitals. Anyway, here’s the routine: Wake up at 5 a.m. after a solid 5 hours of sleep, drag my ass into the kitchen and draw a shot of espresso, eat 5 frozen Liebnitz Dark Choco cookies, somehow get my gear on and try and slap myself awake on the brisk, 2-mile road-cruise to the forest-y single-track. Where suddenly, miraculously, I wake up, and ride each section like it’s the ISDT, as fast as I can, stopping only once to put a slice of duct tape on the plate in case I get spotted on the logging road that WAS National Forest before the “Forest Service” sold it to a logging company, who aren’t logging for two years, but put up signs telling me I’ll be prosecuted for riding there. On land I’ve ridden on since I was six. But I digress…so I pick off 8 or so 4-mile sections of single-track, crossing the occasional wash or fire-road, and as quickly as it began, I’m back on the pavement again, in the neighborhood, giving a nod here and there to the same joggers and dog walkers I see every morning on my return, as they’re somewhere on their own five-to seven in the morning, sanity-making ritual. Moto – it’s my life-support system, the one thing that keeps me a free man, in more ways than one.