The most dangerous ride
Some things I do, I do for the sake of the story - like get up at 5 a.m. to go buck hunting on a bicycle.
I got my first mountain bike after a lucrative forest fire in Arizona. I had test-ridden one some months before and was hooked. The ability to ride over rocks and up dirt trails put a whole, new spin on cycling.
My Trek was a garage-kept model, barely making it out for rides for the first few years of its life. When I moved to Steamboat Springs I was introduced to steep uphills and steeper downhills, or so it seemed.
One fall weekend some friends and I ventured to Moab, mountain-bike Mecca of the Intermountain West, yet the Slickrock trails were not to my liking. The frozen sand dunes that drew the wankers with $5,000 titanium bikes to the desert were frightening. I chose to stick to dirt trails and preferably two-track roads.
For a few years I lived outside of Washington, D.C. and on summer evenings I would ride with friends through trails along the Anacostia River and sometimes on the train tracks in the middle of the night.
We had other favorite rides like Pataspsco State Park outside of Baltimore and a variety of locations in Virginia. One of my favorite trips was to a little ski hill that makes Fergi look like resort. My friends and I rode down the skill hill, still covered with snow, and shuttled each other back to the top.
In the summer, there was rarely a week I wasn’t covered in scrapes, bruises and poison ivy, but yet, I had tales to tell…
I’ve always been a better uphill rider than a downhill one. Perhaps the fear of falling has kept me from living on the edge, but I do enjoy staying out of the emergency room.
Shortly after moving to Wallowa County a completely different way to experience mountain biking was presented – buck hunting. I don’t own a rifle nor care to shoot a deer, but going along for the ride sounded like good “material”.
My companions had a cart specifically designed for hauling a buck behind a bicycle and had hunted this way since they were teens. I was intrigued.
Before dawn on the opening day of buck-rifle season I layered up for the chilly ride and slugged down some coffee. We drove to a trail head and were pedaling into the woods just moments before “civil dawn” – the legal time of day to start shooting.
As we road down old logging roads into the desired hunting area, shots rang out all around us. It was an adrenaline that didn’t compare to steep downhills and slick rock.
When the first buck was being skinned out, I was reminded of being in the delivery room when my nephew was born. I could not watch – instead I stretched my stiffening muscles and paced about.
By mid-day, spectator hunting and biking with bullets whizzing by lost its charm, so I rode back to my car, passing another hunter on a bike. I grinned. We were not alone out here on the world’s most dangerous ride.