By Jarel Morrow
Dirt: it’s brown, it’s ugly, it makes you cough and choke, and you can’t do much with it. I hate dirt and everything about it. There are seemingly not many reasons to appreciate dirt. It can be ugly, get in places you don’t want, and cause additional wear and tear on everything you own. Here in the Sonoran Desert there is no shortage of dirt; it is everywhere in this unique landscape we like to call “the valley of the sun.” It is the first thing people notice when they fly into this area, when all the newcomers exclaim: “look how brown everything is!”
Several years ago I thought it would be a good idea to buy myself a piece of dirt and build a house. That was my American dream, to own acreage outside of town where I could be left alone from the HOA’s and gain relief from the rat race.
So there I was with my very own piece of American dirt. After we built our beautiful home and then watched the housing market crumble around us, we had no money left to improve our large piece of dirt so we did what most people do that have too much land: we grew weeds on it. There I sat over the years staring at my piece of dirt wondering if it would ever become anything else. The kids loved playing in the dirt and even building little jumps out of garbage for their bicycles, but a big ugly piece of dirt still remained.
I had a close friend and colleague that was really into biking. Dirt Jumping and freeriding was his thing. He talked about riding all the time. Trips to Whistler and new bikes were all he seemed to get excited about. I would just role my eyes at his stories because I wasn’t a kid anymore. I had moved on to "big boy" toys. He always bugged me about getting a bike but I rode dirt bikes. I was not into any sissy pedal power! I had been into cross country in the past but it didn’t seem very enticing anymore. I needed more adrenaline these days. So he comes to me one day and asks, what are you going to do with that big piece of land behind your house? We should build a pump track on that dirt you own. “A pump track?” I said, “What is that?” Well, that is when my obsession with dirt began.
We began earnestly trying to organize all of my dirt into some semblance of a track. The start of the little track looked kind of cool at first blush but we had no idea what we were in for. We broke our backs moving dirt with tractors, wheel barrows and shovels. Piling, packing, watering; piling, packing, watering… we performed these tasks over and over again. The design was sound, having been put together by my good friend who spent hours researching and designing a solid pump track. After many weeks working after hours and every Saturday we finally finished the track. The Adrenaline pump track was born, but we soon realized as with any birth, it was only the beginning.
We hadn’t “earned our eyes” yet and couldn’t yet see the flow visually. Early on we would have to build and ride and then rebuild. It took months of going through this until we could start to see how it was going to feel when we rode. We would ride it a few days and figure out the problems with flow and design and start rebuilding. After tearing out a berm and rebuilding we would realize how it affected the next one and then the next one. We rebuilt the track over and over again. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Fall to summer and summer to spring, out on the pump track, riding and rebuilding. The obsession was a full blown addiction and it was beginning to consume my life as I spent every free moment, just me my friends and my dirt.
Well, here we are just over a year later. We have a dialed pump track, a small jump line, a large jump line, and ultimately, the coolest back yard in the state of Arizona. We get kids from all over coming to ride in my back yard. We have fathers and daughters, mothers and sons; giving it there best to have fun on this crazy brown stuff we call dirt.
Dirt: it’s brown, it’s beautiful, it makes you laugh and smile and you can do anything with it. I love dirt and everything about it.
Have you caught the building bug? Tell us about it in the comments.