Of wheels and wilderness

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

Anyone who thinks Bicycle Retailer and Industry News has gone as dull as dishwater in the absence of my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column hasn’t been reading “Through the Grapevine.”

Interim publisher Marc Sani has taken that rascal over, and what once was originally an industry-gossip collection, and then a news-nuggets amalgamation, has become what management calls “very much an editorial and analysis column.”

It’s now going to be available online, and Sani’s latest sortie, about permitting mountain bikes in wilderness and the Republicans — yes, Republicans — who support the idea, seems to have squeezed the tender grapes of many an outraged reader.

Freelance rumormongers and publishers rarely find themselves in agreement, especially if we’re talking about matters such as prompt payment for services rendered.

But I’ve got to tip the ol’ Sangre de Cristos Cycling Club cap to The Sanitizer on this one, if only for all the trail dust he kicked up. He not only rounded up a whole herd of free-range eyeballs, he blackened ’em for good measure.

I enjoyed the fuss so much I based this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch around it, prowling the Innertubes for relevant tidbits and rolling around in whatever smelled good, including:

• That Grapevine column.

• The Wilderness Act of 1964.

• The House and Senate measures to amend it.

• The Sustainable Trails Coalition.

• Two Outside columns, one from Marc Peruzzi and the other from Christopher Solomon.

Aaron Teasdale’s article in Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club.

Ashley Halsey III’s article about America’s waning love affair with the automobile, from The Washington Post.

• Smithsonian.com’s brief history of America’s complicated relationship with the wild horse.

• And last but not least, Hal Walter’s “The Crash of 1943,” from Colorado Central magazine. Hal and Gary Ziegler of Bear Basin Ranch took us to see the wreckage of that B-25 at Rito Alto Peak, and when it came to transporting camping gear I much preferred Hal’s burros to my mountain bike, or my own back. And for anyone suffering from delusions about the mountain bike’s superiority to simple bipedal locomotion in the high lonesome, Hal once ran away from me and my bike on the upper reaches of Hermit Pass. He didn’t even have a burro with him that time.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Looking Back Over the Hill” by David-Gwyn Jones, from ZapSplat.com. Other sounds courtesy Freesound.org, with an assist from Your Humble Narrator, with his trusty Tascam DR-10L and Sony ICD-UX533 (no longer available, alas). And finally, that faux taxonomic family you hear? Rotae mortis? That’s Dog Latin for “Wheels of Death.” I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

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14 Responses to “Of wheels and wilderness”

  1. JD Dallager Says:

    PO’G: You might consider some sort of allegorical alliteration (see what I did there? Not sure it’s accurate, but I had a soon-approaching bedtime deadline to meet) calling your Radio Free Dogpatch efforts “Cliff Notes (check the spelling)” for us non-genius/illiterate/mortals/et al.

    I can now focus (perhaps a bit overstated) on the references you provided and up my IQ 17.67% (notice that I don’t mention what it starts at or moves to…..good marketing, eh?) 🙂

    Well done, mi amigo.

    PS: And a safe, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  2. Sharon Reed Says:

    Nice job on this. Agree there are sacred spaces and those who spend the time and effort to be alone there should be able to be alone. I’m sure those plants and animals in wilderness nature appreciate that only a small number of hikers tromp down their habitat. Slipperly slope for sure. Do we really need to trash/thrash out every square inch of the planet?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Sharon. I’ve been spoiled, doing all my off-road riding in places like Bibleburg, Weirdcliffe, Durango, Salida, Fanta Se, Fountain Hills and the Duke City. I’ve never even remotely felt compelled to fight for wilderness access. But then I’ve always had other options.

      It’s useful to slow down from time to time. You see more on the bike than you do from your car, and when you’re afoot, you see even more.

      Tell you what, though. It sure is nice to have a couple of burros fetch your bacon and beans when you march off into the boondocks. I downsized from a big ol’ Gregory backpack real quick.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I never thought I would see the words bicycle, wheelchair, stroller, and game cart in the same sentence. Congress can come up with some really stupid shit, but that one has to be near the peak of a mountain of toro poo poo. Somebody paid them to come up with that stupidity. Whenever somebody stuffs cash up Lee and Hatches’s asses, they will surely stick their heads up there looking for it.
    Sandy and I got married in the Miller Peak Wilderness Area, and we want it to stay the way it is, pristine. We backpacked up there and spent the night before and after we got married at that spot near the stream. Mountain bikes on the trails around the stream that we stashed our champagne in for the post nuptials toast? Oh, hell no. Not now, not ever.

    “Too many people, with too much technology, using too much of nature, too fast.” David Suzuki Too true, I say.

    The podcasts just keep getting better. Well done, sir.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thank you, sir. I believe I told you that Herself and I were married at Hyde State Park, between Fanta Se and the ski basin. Not quite wilderness, but still more my kind of church than an actual church (I spent much of our time together in The City Difficult riding up, down and around the place, on both road and mountain bike).

      You recovering from dentistry? Coincidentally, the worst dental experience of my life took place in Fanta Se, and over an extended period of time, too. Root planing, they called it. So bloody painful that they did the mouth in quadrants so that the patient had time to repent of his sins between treatments.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        The dental (gum) problem is slowly getting better. Yea!

        I remember us talking about the best days of our lives. You posted a few pix of your wedding a while back. I think I sent you a picture of ours. Didn’t Khal mention an outdoor wedding too? And, I think Herb said something about a shotgun. That reminds me, are you thinking of a Ruta for next spring? It would be nice to meet some more of the folks that hang out in the Dog Patch. I am still planning on coming up for the Santa Fe century.

        Root planing? I read that and decided I did not want to know anything about it. I got a picture in my brain of a guy in a white coat with his knee on my chest and a 10 inch bastard file in his hand. Let’s clean off those roots, shall we?

        That fedora you’re sporting is pretty cool. Not sure about the tie. I only have one tie left, a polyester job with bicycles on it.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Nice job, both you and Sani. Anyone climbing into bed with Hatch, Lee or any of their ilk deserves what they get, but PLEASE don’t get any of it on the rest of us, OK?

  5. John Crenshaw Says:

    Fun and well spoken, Pat. I also thought Sani needed a little backup, so a couple of nights ago I posted, in the Grape Vine column comments section, my own experience in stopping the flow of offal from the Utah delegation cesspool. In my case, that was in the New Mexico legislature, where since 2013 I’ve helped kill no fewer than 11 Utah-inspired bills aimed at transferring most all federal public lands to the states, blatantly aimed at maximum exploitation and privatization. The bikes-in-wilderness proponents flamed me right along with Marc, but I stand by my conclusion: They’re dancing with the devil when they tango with this gaggle of gangsters.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, John, long time no talk to. I saw your comment on the BRAIN site. Well done indeed. You brung the thunder. if you don’t object, I’ll repost that comment here.

      Good job, too, on keeping Utah out of New Mexico. I think your outfit just got added to our year-end list of worthwhile causes for check-writing purposes.

      Sani and The Weebs want to drag us all out for a ride one of these days. It’d be good to put the band back together.

      John Crenshaw of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, commenting in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, on the topic of mountain biking in wilderness and the Republicans who support it:

      Most of the commentary misses the meat of the article: “For them (the congressmen), mountain bikes in the wilderness is a stalking horse for bulldozers, fracking rigs, chainsaws and other extractive tools best left outside wilderness areas.” Dead on.

      I don’t know much about McClintock, but can speak with authority as a volunteer lobbyist who’s seen, firsthand, the seepage from the Utah politicians’ cesspool contaminate the West. That includes the drive to transfer all federal public lands to state governments — a multi-trillion-dollar giveaway with no compensation to the owners, that being you, me and every other American. Their proudly stated goal is to mine, drill, frack, log, and graze the living hell out of it, environmental consequences and recreation be damned, then sell off anything left over.

      Those same lofty motivations inspired this same wrecking crew to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments; they’re right now scurrying to lease the mining and drilling rights to those lands before legal challenges work through the court system. That same “energy dominance” mandate is driving record-setting mineral leasing on public lands everywhere, at the expense of air, water, wildlife, habitat and (guess what) recreational values.

      I write as a bicyclist, a former writer for BRAIN and currently president of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. As the latter, I’ve personally helped kill 11 Utah-inspired federal land-giveaway bills over the past six years in the New Mexico legislature, and expect to have to do it again in 2019. Our organization, along with other National Wildlife Federation affiliates and conservation groups everywhere, also successfully fought off shrinkage of two national monuments here in New Mexico and raised enough hell to save numerous other monuments nationally – though not the two in Utah.

      These legislators don’t give a flying flip whether mountain bikers are in the wilderness: They want to chip away at wilderness every way they can, and this issue is just one of the wedges. I’ve seen their strategies up close and personal, and guaran-damn-tee you, STC, that you’re dancing with the devil.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Hi John

      Let me know if I can help. We recently moved to Santa Fe and are in spitting distance from the Roundhouse.

  6. khal spencer Says:

    Woo-hoo. Sani hit the bullseye.

  7. GeekonaBike (@GeekonaBike) Says:

    Et Tu O’Grady, The original intent seemed clear to me as you read the sentence.
    As to saving sacred spaces, I’d point out the bills leave the cycling destination up to the land manager of said piece of wilderness.
    When you are equating fatbikes with bulldozers, I want to recommend you attend a local weight weenies anonymous meeting.

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