I am one of few people in the World who can say, “I ride my mountain bike to work, on dirt.” It is hands down the best part of my job. How many people can say their commute is the best part of their job? Each ride, morning and evening, provides me with an adventure. I meet people, talk to horses, get muddy, sweat, and literally practically run over Bobcats.
It was just around 6pm when I left work. I was practicing cornering in the loose sandy flat turns on the La Canada/Flintridge horse trails. I typically take it easy. There are often walkers with dogs and runners, so I try to lay low. But tonight I was on the Juliana Juno, and I was rallying the corners. I came around a corner practically sideways and a giant cat turned and sprinted down the trail in front of me before running under the fence, turning to face me and stopping.
I stopped, pulled out the iPhone, cursing myself for not having the Garmin Virb video camera on today, and as the cat studied me I began to take photos.
It was an interesting posturing. I was scared, even, for a few seconds. And then I thought I should shoo him and scare the cat away so as not to allow the cat to become used to human contact. But I seriously wanted to pick him up and scratch his head. Such an adorable animal. Truly.
I was stunned by the beauty of this animal, and so privileged to be so close for such a long time. I have had many such encounters. At Cherry Canyon, on El Prieto and Brown Mountain. I love these cats.
To top off my day, I decided to ride up part of El Prieto and take the short cut home. I reached the shortcut and stopped just to take in the beauty of this canyon and listen for more wildlife. I heard rocks tussling and water splashing. A mountain biker was riding down the trail and stopped.
“Are you going up?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t decided if I want to go further yet.”
“It’s very narrow ahead, and rocky,” he said to me.
This is not the first time I’ve been warned about the treachery of El Prieto. The first time I had a wild idea to ride up El Prieto while wearing platform high heel flip flops and Fox knickers and a t-shirt (I did have a helmet but no gloves.) I rode up the trail and pulled over for some “downhillers” wearing full pads and full face helmets. They warned my that the trail was gnarlier ahead and I should be careful. “OK, thank you.”
I became bored going up and was ready to head down. As I passed the “downhillers” I politely asked to pass, and rallied the end of El Prieto, not clipped in, and in my casual attire. It was just an afternoon jaunt.
At any rate, my commutes are almost always eventful in some way, good ways, and I look forward to each and every one.