A Love Letter to Jank Trails

A Love Letter to Jank Trails

Photo by Jeffrey Keenan



adjective: jank
"The trail is pretty jank."

Dear Jank Trail,

I saw your picture on a set of old maps from 1996, and I knew I wanted to know you. When I fell down the hill because my front wheel slid on that greasy log just a few inches too tall, I was really falling in love with you. The impossibly tight corner I can only clean one in ten times with an awkward nose-pivot fills me with joy.

I appreciate your off-camber laughter and inconvenient square edges in a world of perfect berms and sculpted earth. That crawling three-foot drop to flat scares me more than any flow-trail tabletop ever could, and it makes me feel alive. I even love the section that makes me walk because I haven’t quite cracked the code on back wheel pedal kicks. When you force me off my bike, I have hope that someday I’ll be able to ride cleanly; like some modern bicycle riding Don Quixote, conquering imaginary foes.

The thing is, I fear you’re disappearing. The new trails look nice on Instagram but often leave me feeling empty. The wildness I seek in the woods is replaced by trails without personality. Like masses of beautiful celebrities, saying a lot while at the same time saying nothing at all. So Jank Trail, keep doing your thing, being odd and argumentative. Let the masses have their flow. Forget about the grant money and the tourism dollars. Us misfits on the far side of the cafeteria, love you.

Give me your tired, dilapidated woodwork, moss-covered slabs, and eroded landings. I’ll continuously pursue and work for you. Finding new paths in seldom traveled forests, linking together semi-urban trails through abandoned lots, and scratching in new trails of my own.

With all the love I can offer,
Peter Haile

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Peter Haile

Whether pushing his limits on technical trails, seeing what’s around the next corner, or tinkering in his shop; Peter enjoys life to the full. In addition to bikes, he enjoys frame building, graphic design, and math. He lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and son.

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