Portal to the Portal Trail

I was doing some Scheming today, which got me thinking. Schemer is not the prettiest website, but I really like how you can do activities or create schemes to get things done. A lot of times in our lives we forgot to look back and think about what drives us. Ever since I got into Mountain Biking, I have always wanted to do the portal trail. It is actually my inspiration to try and get better at mountain biking, to become fitter for the intense ride, to overcome my fear of heights to be able to bike with the sheer drop next to me.

If you havent see the portail trail, here it is:

I am sure you can find better videos of the trail but its hard to pass on this one, thanks to Pixies playing in the background. Portal trail is a super exposed trail in Utah. This website has an amazing description of the entire trail:

I’m going to pause from the story of the day to warn you about the Portal trail. It will reset your scales for exposure on a trail. It is off the charts extreme. Nobody falls off the Portal trail and lives to talk about it. The exposed sections have majestically beautiful views to a certain and quick death. Lee Bridgers in his Mountain Biking Moab book dedicates a couple of pages to bringing home life and the Portal trail. This is just a tiny excerpt of a larger fascinating story on how he relates the life of one of his friends to the Portal trail.

“Rusty was eighty-three when he shuffled off. He was a real piece of work, under construction for over eighty years. He had lots of kids. His kids are having kids. People were, and still are, affected by Rusty’s spirit. When he died his family and colleagues celebrated his long life with funny stories and tears of gratitude for having Rusty as a friend for so long. How old are you? How long will you live? Ever consider that your life is invaluable to your family and friends? Ever heard of the expression “Don’t break your mother’s heart?” Ever heard of natural selection? This is the connection. You may not be a Rusty Musselman, but with age, you may become just as interesting, just as much of a character. In Moab we call it “Rugged Individualism.” Fall off the Portal Trail and you will never know the rewards of being an “elder,” of being a rock for your family. You will become some nameless someone who fell off the damn Portal Trail onto the rocks below.”

I’m not trying to scare you, the Portal trail should do that on its own. The exposed sections are not too technical, a solid upper-intermediate rider could pull off those moves 5 times out of 6. However, that 6th time is DEATH! The risk is simply not worth the reward here. Riding these sections is Russian Roulette on a mountain bike and three people have died so far here. I love myself and my family too much to risk becoming the fourth by trying to ride those exposed sections. If you don’t feel the same way then this may not be the trail for you.

However the reason I want to do the trail is not because I want to defy death or get killed. But its one of those things that kinda define your passion. This single video for me captures a lot of the love I have for mountain biking. It is almost an elusive goal that I have to work towards. This goal prepares me for many other big and small things that come my way. It makes those challenges look trivial, because I am striving for something much bigger.

As a kid I dreamt about writing software that will change the world. As a kid I wanted to write a new Operating System. Now I want to write a piece of software that will reach lives of millions of people, and in its own special way make their lives better for them. But you dont start with that. You always have that goal in your mind. I had those big dreams when I wrote my first “Hello, World.”. I had those dreams when I was graduating from college, doing my startup, doing research. Those were the reasons that drove me to improve myself. They make us go that extra mile and bring us one step closer to who we really are. But its not just the skills that count. A lot of the conviction comes from the heart. You can have all the technical skills to do Portal, but your heart and mind also have to agree to it. Similarly you may have all the technical skills, but you need that conviction to take the plunge and do something unique.

Life is about the journey, right? So let your dreams define your journey. However challenging it might be, it will be fun. It will be you.