On bikes we travel relatively silently, even on gravel and dirt roads. Along the road, it is not unusual to surprise people, cattle, horses, etc. In the woods, this applies equally to deer, elk, etc.
Early one morning, it was a treat to round a corner and see a wolf. It was crossing the trail and was looking away from me. It’s head quickly turned toward me and it briefly considered the scene before turning tail and moving quickly but silently down the slope.
A new fly has been plaguing us, a large black biting variety. They are loud. As long as you can hear them, they have not landed to bite. When the distinct buzzing stops, the wild flailing begins to scare them off. I’ve become skilled at killing them and mark my bike like a pilot during a war.
Hummingbirds have been ever present, usually in the morning and the evenings. They move fast, and I usually hear, rather than see them.
One evening near Devil’s Chair, I watched a strange phenomenon I can only explain as the “Bumble Rumble”. Bumble bees were rolling on top of each other on the ground and others would alight to participate. Some would take flight and continue the same behavior in the air.
I also suffered a snake bite.
Fortunately, the only fatality was my inner tube. My front tire kicked up a branch, which got caught in my front spokes and, in turn caught the front fork, stopping the wheel while I heard the “Tssssss” of a rapidly deflating tire.
Typically on an unencumbered bike, a sudden wheel stop would have caused an endo, ejecting me over the front handlebars with the bike landing on top to rub salt into the very real wounds. But with the weight, the wheel locked up and just skidded until I was able to stop the bike before there was any further damage. I was lucky not to break a spoke.
The stick in the spokes had two small, side-by-side, broken-off branches that caused a double puncture of through sidewall of the tire. It literally looked like a snake bite ( a “traditional” snake bite flat is a little different). It was the second, demoralizing flat of the day. Sarah had to stand over me with a bandana, swatting away the flies as I completed the repair.
The entire incident, plus Sarah’s dance with gravity, made me realize how isolated we were. Mobile phones did not work and we were miles from the nearest trafficked road. It could be half a day or more before we encountered someone passing on a four wheeler or motorcycle. A small accident could quickly escalate to a critical condition.
Dangers and exhausting riding aside, the views are phenomenal, especially the meadows, distant mountains and wildflowers.