I love dirt. Love that stuff. There are a number of reasons for this love of mine. First of all, dirt is the stuff of life. Without dirt there would be no plants, no animals, no people and no lemon-flavored ice cream. In some sense just about everything we need depends on the tiny skin of dirt that covers the earth. Necessarily, dirt is also death. And the death in dirt makes life. It is literally the miracle of reincarnation at our feet.

Technically, it is really soil, and not dirt per se, in which the power of life and death resides. Soil could be defined as the place where Death, Life, Minerals, Air and Water coexist. Without one component or another it's no longer soil, although it may still be considered dirt. All soil is dirt, but not all dirt is soil, see. I could draw you a Venn diagram.

There is another reason for my love of dirt. It is on dirt where the brilliance called mountain biking takes place. A human, balanced on a bike, on a mountain. What??!! It's perfect. It's ludicrous. It's smooth, awful, heinous and delicious. To me, it's pure joy. I know most of my readership here (six at last count) is based on pavement, literally and figuratively. But I'm here to tell you folks, riding bikes on dirt is where it's at. Even road bikes feel better on dirt. Hurst the urban cycling guy loves trail riding even more. I hope this revelation doesn't spoil our traditional relationship, in which I spout inane ridiculosities, and you don't turn me in to the authorities.

I won't claim to be the world's expert on mountain biking. Even though I have been riding trails since before mountain bikes were invented (true story), I know there are riders out there with more experience and better skills. A few of them have even written dang informative books on the subject, which I recommend. But nobody loves the dirt like I loves the dirt. And it's long past time for me to write something else based on this intense passion and subject the world to it. So I am very pleased to announce that I'm working on a mountain bike book, to be published by Falcon some time next year. An in-depth how-to guide to trail riding, tentatively titled The Truth About Dirt: Mountain Biking From the Ground Up. And damn, it's going to be good.

Mountain biking is one of those activities that can't be mastered in a lifetime of trying. Ask the best trail riders in the world -- every one of them will tell you there's still plenty of room for improvement. You can always ride smoother, faster, prettier. That's a beautiful thing. For beginners, there are of course some basic and obvious tips that will help them learn how to ride trails well enough to have an awesome time. At the high end, among advanced riders with a great deal of experience and skill who figured out the basics long ago, how-to tips can dissolve into mystery and, seemingly, superstition. Strategies, styles and techniques may be difficult to recognize and understand even by the same riders who successfully employ them. In Dirt I hope to write a book that is useful to beginners, but allows even old-timers to see the trail in new ways. I'll try to write something that could make even the most experienced mountain bikers think, hmm, I never thought of it that way before. We'll look at the finer points, starting with surface details and conditions -- the trail itself. We'll discuss subtle differences in style with different riders, the minutely tweakable physics of cornering and traction, the psychological tricks and traps, the philosophies and attitudes of mind that lead to different outcomes on the trail. And of course mountain biking is laced with spiritual significance as well, in case you didn't know that. We'll look at the modern American trail ride from many previously uncontemplated angles, no doubt we'll turn over some rocks that should have been left unturned in our quest to get really, really into it, man. And when it's all said and done readers will be left with a much more nuanced understanding of dirt-riding technique, and ready to make it happen on the trail, or left with a cranium full of Nutella, and ready to go to sleep for a very long time. Either way you get your money's worth.

BTW, remember when everybody used to talk about quicksand? Nobody talks about quicksand any more. Let's seriously consider trying to bring that back.

The Truth About Dirt. Coming to a bookstore near you in 2011. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt Dillon and Maria Conchita Alonso.

 

HURST HAS ALREADY WRITTEN A BUNCH OF BIKE BOOKS, STRANGELY ENOUGH

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