Of course, when you start to think about this, you can really respond in two different ways. The first is surrender, you understand that you cannot simply ride all the singletrack and that you must narrow it down to a select few hundred thousand miles. This is the preferred response. The other option is culling. Culling is simply the choosing you do for yourself. It's the how you sort out what is worth your time and what is not. For example: Is a trip to South Mountain worth my time? The AZT 300 is too hard for me. Sedona is not worth my time, so I am going to ride here instead.
What I've observed in recent years is far more culling than surrender. "All those non-technical trails are trash." I have even found myself saying, "Doubletrack? Blah, I prefer singletrack or nothing." You just simply reduce your surrender load by tossing out so much at once.
It's an effort, I think, to make the world smaller and easier to manage, to make the awareness of what we're missing less painful.
Culling is easy; it implies a huge amount of control and mastery. Surrender, on the other hand, is a little sad. That's the moment you realize you're separated from so much. That's your moment of understanding that you'll miss most of the riding out there.
It's sad, but it's also ... great, really. Imagine if you'd seen everything good, or if you ridden everything difficult. Imagine if you really got to ride all the singletrack out there. That would leave you empty, with nothing left to explore....
...it would be a failure, quite honestly.
The excitement of new singletrack would be lost, rocks would be ruled as "impossible" and never attempted. Even some big bikes would be left unbuilt, collecting dust in the garage. Laps and training would become the preferred biking method.
Luckily, this is not the case.
Photos by Kendall G. and Louis G., the Boulders and Area 52 respectively
Rather what we've seen and ridden is always going to be a very small cup dipped out of a very big ocean, and turning your back on the ocean to stare into the cup can't change that.