A dual-sport endeavor in the autumn woods.
Damn, it’s hard to let summer go. Two, maybe three short months of warm temps and dry trails—we do our best, logging as many miles as we can, but it’s never enough. Especially for the hunter, who hangs up the bike and breaks out the shotgun on the first day of September, then spends the next two months wandering field and forest on foot. Next, it’s big-game rifle season and before long, the snows of winter. The mountain bike remains in its garage-corner prison cell, awaiting a late-spring appeal for release on good behavior.
Last September, after a fantastic summer of singletrack, my partner and I were particularly loath to let the biking season end. But our dogs would not let us head out the door without them—those woeful eyes got us every time. So we walked the woods in search of grouse, our pups bounding along out front. Our gaze, however, kept drifting back to the smooth ribbons of dirt, softened by the cool temps and occasional rainfall. The distraction cost a bird or two before a solution finally presented itself.
It was a late-night Netflix indulgence: Raising Arizona, with the bounty-hunting biker Leonard Smalls. If he could strap two double-barrels to his back while riding a motorcycle, surely we could carry one on our bikes, right? With a quick internet search and a few extra bucks for expedited shipping, two shotgun scabbards arrived at the front door. Voila—summer and fall could now be combined, and both men and mutts would be happy. Vive la saison!
Author's note: Given the dual demands of chasing birds and sprinting singletrack, the dogs needed extra water. And breaks—we took it easy on the downhill, stopping often for rest and re-hydration. Mornings worked best, as the cooler temps made it easier on the dogs—and on us, as we could wear long, thick pants for busting brush during the hunt, without overheating when riding uphill.