“Slippery as an eel up here” I said aloud to nobody but myself as my front tire drifted out of the apex of the turn. The ground was baked hard as concrete, coated with a skim of dust, dried leaves and dead grass; a toxic combination with about as much traction as an air hockey table. This particular trail, carved laboriously into the side of a steep hill behind my barn over the previous two winters, is a narrow exercise in wheel placement and constant turns. It punishes lapsed concentration even when the traction is ideal.

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