Book Review: Singletrack Mind Connects the Rider to the Earth

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By Dave Iltis — Do you ride your mountain bike, but struggle for connection to the earth and life? Albert DeSilver’s wonderful new collections of essays, Singletrack Mind: Finding Wisdom & the Poetry of Life on Two Wheels, is part storytelling, part philosophy, part tribute to fallen friends. The collection of 7 stories by DeSilver with photos by Mattias Fredriksson is flowy and poetic. He writes in the haibun style of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō that mixes prose with poems.

Singletrack Mind is a collection of essays by Albert Flynn DeSilver with photos, including the cover photo, by Mattias Fredriksson.

The former Marin County Poet Laureate includes an essay on his path to mountain biking through life called Beginnings. Here, he explores Dolores La Chapelle’s concept of Being – “in harmony with the elements—with no imposed will, reason or agenda, but rather with connection, immersion, and elemental collaboration.” He explores connectedness to the earth, and Zen – “what happens at speed in flow on a bike is the emptying of mind, the absence of thought, moving beyond thinking, evaluation, or judgement.” Mountain bikers and skiers may relate to this experience, where one is moving fast, and there’s no room for thoughts to clutter the mind.

In “The Point of All Return”, he explores the Point Reyes Peninsula, mixing history, terrain, and an epic day with a friend.

In “Fuzzy, Yes!”, DeSilver pays tribute to his late friend Fuzzy through a story of Hummingbird Trail.

Other essays include a tribute to another friend, Chris Geiger, riding in Slovenia, and mountain biking in Sedona.

DeSilver’s writing describes Deep Mountain Biking – fitting in with the world through mountain biking rather than dominating the world through technology. Being, “immersive flow” through riding, and the connection to the earth through a trail.

“One doesn’t feel so much that they are riding as that they are being ridden by the elements‑earth, air, fire, water—and the “gods” or spirit itself, carrying one forward into another dimension. This is singletrack mind.”

The book is a reminder of why we mountain bike and our connection to the earth and a highly recommended read, especially in our disconnected world.

Singletrack Mind: Finding Wisdom & the Poetry of Life
2022, the nonexistent press
ISBN 978-0-6468673-3-5
Available at albertflynndesilver.com

Tune in tomorrow for an excerpt from the book.

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