Party of One

With a long life of following his obsessions alone due to the outright obscurity of those endeavors, TDM has been raised to proceed Han Solo style, with the various Millennium Falcons of his life carrying him alone along the lines his maps point out.   We are told it is a bad idea to engage in backcountry pursuits alone, but the D-Magnet’s imagination begs action, and for the last 40 years, with or without your company he has loaded up and headed out.  Do you blame him?  The maps that spill across his little study hole contain many clues worth pursuing, and some of the best moments of his life have occurred without fanfare, away from the eye of strava, photographers or other vouchers and proofs.  This solo-mission ethic has evolved from its early incarnations, which were born of simple necessity; with no peers available to play with the boats, rods and bikes of his earliest adventures, he simply hauled off alone each time a bad idea seemed worth pursuing.  Later, as (boating) ambitions increased, TDM assessed that slipping away undetected in the cover of early morning light might just be the safer option for all concerned.  Over time these practical solutions became habit, and eventually the lonely road was assumed to be the only path available, and TDM simply stopped asking others for the pleasure of their company on whatever maneuvers he was dreaming up. While admittedly a bit desolate, the proof has been in the pudding for our hero…up to now this has been a good life, and adventures of all scales have been achieved…most of them as a party of one.

But recently something different has been going down, and an assumed preference for solo has at last given way to a trend of companionship and camaraderie.  It began with some shared gravel grinding with Gnat-man in the coastrange, but then friends and fans alike began to notice some of the obscure choices that make up the TDM weekend ride logs, and suddenly there were partners begging to go along. Coinciding with the interest of others was a rising fear in TDM that he was fast becoming one of those mossy curmudgeons lost in the hills and drinking black and heated beverages while muttering strings of unsociable commentary under his steaming breath.   In a turn of personal habit, The DMagnet has chucked his lonesome ways into the shrubs and started calling folks up whenever a list ride presents itself.  To his surprise, a cast of characters have eagerly agreed to join, even after a few of these dreams panned closer to nightmares than originally advertised.

And what lessons have been learned here?  First, there is no doubt that solo missions are a fine breed of spice, and in TheDirtMagnet’s opinion certain levels of achievement, pride, and presence are best achieved via unsure and  unsupported travel through the world.  But a spice is not necessarily nourishing, and the recent sharing of humble adventures points to a richer reason for following lines on maps than the habitual need to find a reassuring discomfort among the hills of a home state. It is in the simple act of sharing a day with friends doing whatever comes to mind that TDM currently finds his highest rewards, and this sharing is a thing that he had forgotten many years ago he’d the right to claim for himself.

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