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The Biker and the Wheeler
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In part two of Finding Common Ground, a mountain biker and a four-wheeler, each with unique perspectives and forms of recreation, unite through the love of finding joy, thrills, and solace on our shared national playgrounds.
[MUSIC PLAYING] VALERIE DOUGLAS: It all comes from not knowing my left from my right when I panic. I went left when I should've gotten right. There was a cliff, and I went over two and a half times. We had some people at the bottom of the hill flip it back over, put some oil in the engine, air off the tires, and went and hit the trails.
Can't let stuff like that scare you. That's one of those things you just gotta keep going.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Pretty much every summer up until I was about 17 years old I was on the Navajo reservation. My mom really felt it was really important for my siblings and I to really learn about our culture. And so much of our culture and languages is tied to our land. That's why mountain biking for me is very connected to that experience it's not just my tires moving across the land. My biking connects me to the land.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: The idea of rock curling in any jeeping is to avoid the rocks. So you want to place your tires on the rocks and you want to look at everything underneath and avoid hitting rocks on them. So the center--
When mountain biking first became big back in the 90s, there was a lot of clashing because they were all fighting for the same trails.
RENEE HUTCHENS: All right. Let's start it up.
Yeah I feel like I was a bit nervous like what you would think I guess about me.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Yeah. You know? I was super duper nervous that you were going to be all, eff those motorized people, they're just in my way.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Before I met you, my impression of wheelers was pretty much that I felt like they had something to prove.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: In the past, I've heard tension has happened on trails especially in the multi-use trails. Have you?
RENEE HUTCHENS: Yeah, definitely.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Yeah. I have literally had rocks thrown at me.
RENEE HUTCHENS: I can't say I've ever done any wheeling, legit wheeling. Nothing like Val. She's bad-ass.
[OPERA MUSIC PLAYING]
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Yes.
The feelings you get when you're out on the trail are anything from hairs sticking up on the back of your neck, goosebumps on your arms. It's just making all the senses come to life again. It's like meditation, to just focus on one task and that one task is to get down the trail or get up that obstacle.
And that's what I love the most about it.
RENEE HUTCHENS: My identity of who I am as a Navajo lady today definitely has a lot to do with mountain biking, which is crazy to think because none of my ancestors were flying around on a bike. Through mountain biking I feel like I'm painting or tracing the land. Feels very creative in a very personal way.
I tell people that sometimes you have to just go to the places where your heart is to feel your soul. That's how biking feels a lot for me. I feel home.
[COMPRESSED AIR BLOWING]
And so the reason why we're doing this, and can probably guess--
[COMPRESSED AIR BLOWING]
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Clean your footprints after a ride.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Exactly.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: You know? What's funny is when we started this whole thing, I'm like, ah, I gotta get back on a mountain bike. Last time I was on a mountain bike I totally hooked it. I absolutely hated it.
It's all making so much more sense now.
RENEE HUTCHENS: It's all making sense.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Cool.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Let's all.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: All right. Let's do this.
RENEE HUTCHENS: I'll smile if this is good.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: Throughout the lesson, I felt so much more comfortable on that bike. It was it was pretty rad, actually.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Yeah. Stepping into your shoes gave me a way to actually feel an experience, why you're passionate about what you do, why you want to recreate in that place the way you do.
We are stewards today for our public lands. No matter how we're using it, we all have a stake in it.
VALERIE DOUGLAS: I've gone to Congress to testify about the importance of multiple use on public lands. I want to make a difference. I want to make sure that everybody's available to recreate.
RENEE HUTCHENS: Our land is our common language. If we don't come together then we all lose it.