It’s coronavirus season and although most states have started easing restrictions, those of us with half a brain and fully developed anxiety know we should still stay inside. Mostly.
Coronavirus has obviously been hardest for those who got sick, passed away, or had to work on the front lines of this shit in hospitals or in grocery stores. You guys deserve double pay and six months paid vacation when this is over. But even for those of us with the super privilege of staying home, shit’s been tough. Not “fuck your rules I’m going to a crowded beach without a mask on” tough, those people are idiots. But it’s been tough.
Since getting laid off from my job at the beginning of March, I’ve more or less languished in a state of semi-conscious depression, staying awake just long enough to bitch about the President on social media and get drunk. Some days are better than others but if I really dig deep I’m terrified of moving and terrified of staying still. I don’t want to go back to corporate America but all the fun outdoor jobs are shut down because of this ridiculous disease. So instead I sit on my porch and scroll through social media while I sink deeper and deeper into a state of ennui so total I’m not sure I’ll ever emerge.
Except, that is, when I’m mountain biking.
Cycling on the roads and trails has been the scotch tape holding me together. It’s the only healthy coping mechanism I have, all the beer and wine I’ve consumed in the last two months notwithstanding. So on that note, I thought I’d tell you guys about some of my favorite places I’ve been mountain biking around Boston, MA recently while I also try to comb through the mountain of anxiety that is pinning me down to the earth.
First, A Note on Crowds
Crowds are bad. People are stupid. People in crowds are exponentially stupid. Right now, crowds are in parks. Crowds in parks are biggest on the weekends when the rule-defying mob flocks to trails they heretofore had never heard of in order to walk without masks and spread this nasty disease as far as possible while telling themselves that they are following social distancing guidelines. Don’t go to the parks on the weekends.
Seriously, where the fuck did you all come from? Get out of the woods.
Great Brook Farm State Park
In truth, I haven’t actually been here since the first few days after I found out my job didn’t want me, sorry, couldn’t afford me anymore. The trails here are pretty easy, lots of fire roads where you can ride wicked fast and scare the parents of small children, and plenty of easy, winding single track that you swore was going to lead you back to that fire road but instead you end up in some neighborhood in Carlisle and now you have no idea where you are and the neighbors are looking at you funny.
It’s easy to get lost there. But the trails are easy, so it’s a good place to work out your fear, terror, and anger about your layoff.
Willowdale State Forest
I love this place almost as much as I love having a sense of purpose. A step up from Great Brook Farm State Park, Willowdale has a nice mix of easy trails and technical singletrack. And it’s big but not too big, so you can get comfortably lost while holding back tears of impotent rage at the unfairness of this senseless epidemic and the fact that you’ve now had to have your hopes of retirement dashed by not one but two crippling recessions. There is even a trail called G-Spot so if you’re tired of contemplating your rapidly declining chances for financial freedom, you can get worked up about the men who still believe the G-Spot is the source of female arousal.
Every part of a woman’s body is an erogenous zone. We aren’t you. We don’t have an ON button in the form of a penis. You have to slow down and work your way down there or else we’re going to be bored and disappointed. Forget about the fucking G-Spot for a second or every woman you ever have sex with will come away disappointed. And no, we don’t pee out of our vaginas.
Wompatuck State Park
This little park is one from my childhood, back when I thought unicorns existed and life would be one continual adventure toward blissful happiness. If you ride deep enough into the woods, you can still find some of the old concrete bunkers leftover from when this place was an armory during WWII, and America was led by men of integrity instead of men whose only interest is their self-interest.
But really, this place is a labyrinth worthy of Daedalus. I’ve been riding bikes here since before I hit puberty and I still find new parts of the park every time I go. It’s got a lot of technical track but too few hills so while it is a fun challenge, it’s not my favorite place. Megan likes to go fast, adrenaline is the only thing that distracts me from my debilitating anxiety.
The last spot on this list challenges me as much as the coronavirus lockdown challenges white America. Seriously just wear a fucking mask and stay the fuck away from me, it’s not that big of an imposition. The Fells are great if you like to punish your body for things it hasn’t done wrong yet. I find giving myself a nice, deep bruise somewhere on my legs a perfect antidote for the existential dread I feel when I think about getting another job in a cubicle farm.
The trails in the Fells that are worth riding are pretty tough, I still can’t ride through the whole park without falling off and seriously hurting some part of my body. It’s a nice reminder that no matter how hard I try I’ll never be as talented, capable, or impressive as that asshole at the top of the Forbes 30 under 30 list. There are also easy fire roads as bailout options but riding on those is like being a social media social justice warrior. It feels like we’re fighting the good fight but we aren’t actually doing any real work at all.
So that’s it. Those are the places I’ve been going mountain biking to try to fight through some of the issues that have churned up inside my psyche during this period of lockdown and existential dread. Have some other spots where I could wrestle with my own mortality? Let me know in the comments.