My dogs are barking

Ordinarily if I’m enjoying this view it’s from the saddle of a bike,
not via shank’s mare.

Cycling has taken a back seat — actually, a garage hook — to hiking.

I don’t know why. Yet here I am, having hiked 20 miles in the past few days.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Until this afternoon, when the legs and feet feel a tad abused for some reason, as though they had been et by a coyote and shit off a cliff.

The last couple days I’ve been hiking trails that I used to ride before The Bug came to town. The change in perspective is interesting. I’ve spotted social trails that I never noticed from the saddle, plus a few old fencelines that make me glad I didn’t major in Stringing Fence Up Steep Slopes.

Exploring an unfamiliar trail is a little easier because I don’t have to put a foot down and mumble, “Oh, shit, can’t ride that.”

Also, bits I’ve historically been unable to ride? I look at them on foot and think, “Why can’t I ride that?”

Dodging the clueless is likewise simpler. Almost nobody seems grounded in trail etiquette these days, or even schooled in the concept of a shared public space, so I just step aside and wave the dummies on.

What the hell? The world is full of dummies, and worse than dummies, too. You can’t clout them all with your hiking stick. Or you shouldn’t, anyway. You might break your stick.

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45 Responses to “My dogs are barking”

  1. BruceM Says:

    Let’s see PO’G, where to start? First off, I have about 10 years on you; so I’ve already reached the point where walking is better than biking. Second, looking at your image of the NM Moonscape I remember why I live in the Pacific NorthWet. I keep trying to forget living in El Paso, TorC and Lost Almost. Green! I want Green! I’ll pay the price of rain as it’s easier to walk in. Third, here on the Oregon north coast suffering from the summer invasion of Cidiots, idiots from the city, I understand why you stand aside. Just don’t drop that stick. You’ll need it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Bruce … one of the ways cycling beats walking is evaporative cooling. I missed that the past couple days, when the voices in my head were shrieking, “Shade! Where’s the shade? Call that a tree? Even the lizards are wearing sun hats! What are we doing moseying around in the desert? We’re not Moses!”

      P.S.: You kinda miss T or C, don’t you? ’Fess up.

      • noone666 Says:

        I moved into TorC July of 1971. Hot! Took a wrong turn ending up on the downside of town. I did finally did find the town; it takes about 6 months living there. I left June of 1974. Was back through there in 2011. My first thought? “Gawd, was this place this much of a dump when I lived here?” So much has changed and not for the better.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I felt the same way about Pueblo, Colo. But I had to get out of Corvallis, Oregon, and Pueblo was the town that would have me. Lord have mercy, that was a long tour of duty.

        Best thing about it was I got back on the bike and started the long and tortuous process of shedding the el-bees I’d put on in Oregon, along with a few bad habits that were not restricted by geography.

  2. JD Says:

    PO’G: Slow is smooth….and smooth is fast!!! Whether that be on foot, on two wheels, or otherwise. Rejoice in the different views and perspectives you get by indulging in several modes of motion.
    And keep up the motion….physically and intellectually and creatively…..lots of studies confirm the benefits.
    I joke with my NICA high school MTB team kids that I used to go fast and far; then far; now I just enjoy being able to go. 🙂
    Cheers to all….stay safe and healthy…..and sane!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s all good, JD. I kinda miss running, a little bit, but only just. Hiking is a suitable alternative to cycling when the mood strikes.

      And there actually are a few shady bits around here. But you gotta walk a ways and do a little scrambling to get to ’em. That ankle isn’t 100 percent yet, so my “scrambling” looks an awful lot like “creeping.”

  3. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Don’t know who the guy was but I think he was a wise man that said “ I don’t like meetings. I prefer management by walking around and talking to employees and partners”. Tom Peters stole the phrase and made bank. You sure see a lot more from your bike than from a car. And you see and experience more walking than biking. But the combo of walking and riding a bike cannot be beat. Either way you’re out of your cocoon

  4. khal spencer Says:

    Each mode has advantages. I loved reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance because I had given up driving a car as much as possible and rode the motorcycle everywhere, rain and occasionally sliding down the road on my ass courtesy of black ice notwithstanding.Plus, the First Wife had scored our car and taken it back upstate with her. My solution was to put a faring on the motorcycle.

    Slowing down to bicycling and walking speeds each opened up new perspectives. I can ride a road or trail on the bicycle and its still too fast, as O’G observes, to see stuff you see when walking. Plus, you can stop walking and smell the cactus flowers faster than you can haul a speeding mountainbike to a halt. Of course as you stop to smell the flowers, some moron will plow into your ass on his freshened up 1×12 29er.

    So all hail to all modes, as long as they are not caged.

    • carl duellman Says:

      that’s a book i read every 10 years or so. it’s a bit of a slog at times but i’ve always been happy to have read it. as far as walking, i’ve heard that 10,000 steps a day is a good way to stay healthy. 10k steps is about 5 miles. i might give it a go when it’s not so hot and buggy.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The nice thing about walking around here is that singletrack is just two blocks east. In just a few minutes I’m on the dirt, and as long as I don’t look to the west I can pretend I’m hiking in the boonies. If I get far enough to the east I am in the boonies.

        Here’s a map (PDF). We’re practically right up against Trail 365, which is a gateway to the Cibola National Forest.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Looks like you can easily get on Pino, embudo, or Embudito. Are they good trails?

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I’ve never hiked Pino, though I’ve biked up to the wilderness boundary there. It’s at the tippy-top of the Elena Gallegos open space, which has lots of fun trails.

          I have hiked short stretches of both Embudo and Embudito, which can be linked up for a point-to-point trek of 10 miles or so.

          But they’re both billed as “difficult,” and I haven’t been willing to find out how much so until I have more confidence in my right ankle.

          They’re also both extremely popular trails, especially on weekends. The respective trailhead parking lots are always packed.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Speaking of motorcycles and those who love them, Sturgis is on, plague be damned.

      Welcome to Sturgis!

      The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers excerpt by Gilbert Shelton. Larger version here.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Jaysus, we never looked that bad.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I looked like a crotch rocket rider through and through. Complete with the full face helmet and Yamaha jacket with Yoshimura and Dunlop patches sewn on it

        • khal spencer Says:

          I finally got a full face Bell Star in grad school after a friend of mine showed me his after a crash. Saved his face, which in his case was worth saving.

          We were a motley crew and fit in at the Univ of Rochester like skunks at a garden party. My department chair couldn’t stand me. I credit his public insults at my graduation (with my mom and brother attending) with goading me into getting a Ph.D. and getting a paycheck as a geologist.

          I had a denim jacket with a USA Drinking Team patch (with the five overlapping rings and a Marlin Brando black leather jacket my stepdad gave me when he stopped riding and I bought a bike, a 450 Honda. Aside from Fred (Suzuki 550) and Carlos (A Yamaha of some sort that he eventually traded for a BMW R50, a classic) the two guys above (left and right, respectively) there was Bill, back from Vietnam ( BSA 500 single and then a Gold Wing), Randy (Honda 750), Geoff (BSA 650), Mike (Honda 550), and yours truly. None of us had a bona fide crotch rocket, although Randy’s Honda 750 Four was frighteningly fast.

          Long ago and far away. Amazingly, those bikes didn’t kill any of us although Bill and Mike are on the other shore by now.

        • Hurben Says:

          After I bought my first bike my mother uttered these wonderful words, “And if you kill yourself, don’t come crying to me!” Bizarrely, this was just after my first combat tour where there had been a very real chance of coming home in a box.

          That bike was quickly followed by a Yamaha DT400, a Suzuki GT550, a Yamaha XS750, a Yamaha SR500 & finally a Yamaha XV1000 which I brought with me to New Zealand. Tour the entire county on that bike, finally got rid of it 10 years ago.

          I seemed to alternate between being a dirt rider and being a biker, my dirt career ended after I bought a Yamaha IT425, that bike scared the shit out of me.

          • khal spencer Says:

            Heh. Rode home from college one day and showed my mom I bought a bike. She rummaged around through her memorabilia and dug out her dad’s St. Christopher medal and handed it to me.

            I’m a pure road guy on the MC although love both the road and mountain bicycles.

            I had a little 50 cc dirt bike as a kid that didn’t go too fast so that was OK. Then my old man had a woman in a Buick turn left in front of his BMW R60 when I was in high school. When he got home from the hospital in a cast from ankles to waist (both legs) he said “park it. I don’t want to have to listen to that goddamn thing”. Fair enough, under the circumstances. Being in a hot half body cast during a Buffalo summer while saying to himself “how the hell did I miss that unfolding?” must have been a lot of fun. Turns out he had reached down to switch the gas tank to reserve.

            I have a friend who retired and got one of those big KTM adventure motorcycles and took it to Africa about three years ago. He nearly came home in a box after augering at speed on a sand filled blind curve. They had to fly him home to reassemble his ribs and shoulder. Asphalt is harder than dirt, but maybe I’m just willing to deal with what I think I know.

            Oh, and that St. Chris medal? Still carry it around, but the irony is my granddad got killed in a motorcycle crash. Still not sure what Mom meant by giving it to me.

          • Hurben Says:

            My interptation, there was a connection & your mum was asking you Grandad to watch over you. My mum gave me a small plastic Garfield, it’s still in one of the pockets of my leather jacket.

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            Hi Hurley. My local Yamaha/Honda dealer has a collection of old Yamahas and Honda, mostly Yamahas, and has a beautiful SR500. Always wanted one, and when the SR400 were brought back it tempted me. My motorcycle days are behind me. Sold my last one in 1984, a Yamaha Vision.

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          Don’t ask me how the hell Hurben turned into Hurley. No clue. Sorry ‘bout that.

        • B Lester Says:

          One of my road bike riding buddies is a former left coast motocross racer of some renown. Quit a few years ago after shattering his wrist while trying to qualify for masters Nationals. Said he exhaled a split second too soon and bought it on a berm.

          He and I have a healthy nervousness on bicycles around automobubble traffic, so we stick to bike paths, lanes and low traffic country roads. He says he never did, and never would ride a motorcycle of any kind on the street.

    • Dale Says:

      Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon was not a bad read either.

      • carl duellman Says:

        i agree

        • carl duellman Says:

          one of my favorite adventure books is ‘all the pretty horses’ and the other two in the trilogy by cormac mccarthy. i wish i had read them when i was in my teens although they may not have been written yet.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’ve always said “Blue Highways” was the book Steinbeck thought he was writing in “Travels with Charley.”

      • Shawn Says:

        I’m in the middle of re-reading-reading Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. There’s nothing like reading a book about the mortality of a hot, sun bleached red rock wilderness in the middle of summer. “I am now sole inhabitant, usufructuary, observer and custodian.” Now there’s a word we don’t see often.

        An ideal book for hot summer reading is Pierre Berton’s “The Arctic Grail”. It’s about the search for the Northwest Passage. I took it with me on a bike trip into Mexico and I was cold often while reading it.

        Then, for those of you recovering from a recent accident and wondering if all will be well again, there is “Touching the Void” and “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. Both epic reads that make you think about why you do what you do.

        • Dale Says:

          Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac” is recommended as well, and Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim on Tinker Creek”. Let us not forget Rachael Carson – anything written by her or about her is worth your time.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I have to thumb through “On the Road” and “Dharma Bums” from time to time, get my vicarious road fix.

        Another good one is “Not Fade Away” by Jim Dodge. A weird little novel full of interesting characters, heavy on love, the automobile, and music.

  5. SAO' Says:

    Coronavirus has everyone feeling good about bikes.

    But that Tour of Poland crash might scare everyone back into four wheels and four doors.

    Wish I had more than thoughts and prayers to offer.

  6. Herb from Michigan Says:

    I wasn’t allowed to drive family vehicles as a teen due to let’s say….youthful issues. When they got tired of hauling my ass hither and yon I had a woeful 62 Impala bestowed upon me that each week would eat my paycheck from the butcher shop I toiled at. It dies on the way to high school and I left it on a side street for a week until the cops called and the old man blew a gasket. Turns out so did the Chevy. Was riding Schwinns around the next two years and I think my parents were concerned about my image since in those days only mentally disturbed rode bicycles. So I came home one day to find a well whipped Kawasaki 350 in the yard. That fekker stranded me everywhere I went and I was never sure if the old man was trying to lose me or kill me. When at college I sold it to a dude who said he could fix anything on wheels as I told him I think the engine block was cracked. A month later he tried to bully me into a refund but got a blackened eye instead and me a broken finger. Back to the bicycles and if I thought that Kaw was evil, little did I know about the sew up tires lurking in my future.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I wasn’t allowed to get a driver’s license because I refused to take driver’s ed. The folks, who were not stupid, said they wouldn’t sign off on a learner’s permit unless I did (there was an insurance discount they felt certain would come in handy).

      For my part, I felt I was already wasting too much time circumventing the State’s limited concept of education and wanted to keep my afternoons free for my own pharmaceutical studies (mescaline was showing promise as a short-term reality repellent). If I wanted some pointed criticism from an authority figure in a car I could always ask my mom to drive me somewhere.

      So I did without the learner’s permit at 15 and nine months, and the driver’s license at 16, and rode a Schwinn pretty much everywhere until I turned 18 near the end of my first year in college. Then I borrowed a roommate’s car, took and passed the written and driving tests, and got my license without the assistance of driver’s ed or my parents, thank you very much. Shortly thereafter I bought a ’64 Chevy Biscayne to go with it.

      Which of course I destroyed in short order, losing my license in the process. Didn’t get my happy-motoring privileges restored until I graduated from college in 1977. My parents gave me a used Datsun pickup, probably because they felt I’d wind up sleeping in it (as I said, they weren’t stupid).

      Never did the motorcycle thing, though. I knew maybe three dudes into motorcycles back then, and they were all crazier than me. I’d do a lot of moving around over the next decade and the truck seemed to make more sense.

      • SAO’ Says:

        My granddad told me, thanks to our Gaelic blood, there’s whiskey, hand guns, and motorcycles, and you can pick one.

  7. khal spencer Says:

    Apparently the time weighted fatality rate for motorcyclists is about ten times what it is for bicyclists and cage drivers, who have about the same rate. Then again, I know how I rode as a young man, saw how those young soldiers and sailors rode in Honolulu, and the results are not surprising. A mistake in a car and as O’G says above, the car gets destroyed and maybe you lose the license. A mistake on a speeding crotch rocket and you might as well be wearing one of those Japanese kamikaze bandanas.

    I knew Spectrum Cycles’ Tom Kellogg as a classmate at the U of Rochester, class of 1976. Was a nice guy then and now and everything in between. We did some weird shit on motorbikes in college, including a motorcycle streak during the dorm room drawings in ’75. Tom used to motocross or something similar until he crashed and wrecked a vocal cord. Decided bicycles were less likely to do a repeat performance.

    As my Motorcycle Safety Instructor told us: Your bike is always trying to kill you. Its your job to stop it from doing so.

    Now, off for a bicycle ride.

    • Shawn Says:

      I remember my first visit to Honolulu where my brother and I rented mopeds and raced through traffic with angels on our shoulders and the devil on the throttle. A couple of years later when I lived there, racing through traffic continued although the moped was replaced by a road bike. Add in a little ale from the Harbor Pub and getting home was an exciting task for that angel on my shoulder.

      Interesting to read about Scowcroft. I was aware that he was instrumental in giving guidance to Bush senior. I have a lot more respect for him after reading that he was against W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

      I went out for a ride yesterday. The outbound headwind was only touching on 28 mph. It’s calm and clear now. I need to do as Khal and roll out the door on the bike before the wind machine fires up again.

  8. khal spencer Says:

    In other news,

  9. Dale Says:

    “My Dogs are Barking” got me thinking about the late John Prine especially about “Peaceful Waters”.

  10. mooremediaone Says:

    Late to the party on your post, but I started hiking too – since I committed to a Sierra backpacking trip I had to put down the wheels and lace up the boots.

    I found that I rather liked it, and realized that no matter how bike-strong my legs are – unless I keep walking – my hiking legs are mush.

    I’ve returned from the high sierra, where my legs did pretty well. As did the respite from the days media madness. Imagine, a whole week of no news – yes such places do exist:

    Keep the rubber side down, be it knobby or lugged!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Now that looks like a high old time. That country is a lot greener than ours — around El Rancho Pendejo it’s mostly sharp rocks, sharper plants, sand, and pea gravel.

      I just spent a couple sunbaked hours trying to locate the Candelaria Bench Trail, a short, steep, unmarked hike that’s right out our front door. I’m pretty sure I got it right this time, and hoo-boy, it’s hard to decide which is sketchier, going up or coming down. The glaciers are long gone, and the only lakes en route will consist of one’s own blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

      Still fun, though. I’m starting to prefer hiking to running.

      I use a small Gregory Miwok 18 day pack with a 2-liter hydration bladder for these little jaunts. I expect you guys were going a little bigger for a week in the boonies. What did you use for packs?

      • mooremediaone Says:

        Hey Pat,
        Our gang had all kinds of packs for a week’s worth of adventure.

        Everything from a new/modern REI ultra light weight internal frame pack to my vintage Kelty Trekker external frame dinosaur from 1994.

        It’s on it’s second harness setup – and since it’s still fairly comfy with 45lbs (yeah, right) I’ve yet to trade it in.

        And don’t get me started on my Zamberlan leather boots from around the same era. Second pair of Vibram’s have been professionally applied.

        I don’t feel old, but I’m truly enrolled in the old school for sure.

        Happy trails!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The new tents, bags, and backpacks are unreal. I still love my old North Face Expedition-25 tent, but I’d hate to fetch the sonofabitch more than about 25 meters. Its last outing was from the Subaru to the campsite, about a dozen paces. It’s a motel in a sack, is what.

        I just sold a Gregory Palisade Plus that shared a birthday with your Kelty. It was about four times as much pack as I needed at the time; as I recall, we got some sort of bro deal from a shop that happened to employ Herself. My eyes (and her discount) were definitely bigger than my back and legs.

        I’m looking at a Gregory Stout or Paragon now, something in the 45L range. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe just in case I need to leg it for the hills come November with the Marmot bag and Big Agnes tent?

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