Sunday, June 29, 2014

Etiquette Training And Adventure In The Methow Valley

Author:  Chris Fox


Etiquette:  the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.  

When greeting bed and breakfast hosts in Corsica, etiquette proscribes the cyclist from kissing the proprietress on both cheeks.    On the southern island of New Zealand, etiquette suggests allowing all 
Pipestone Canyon Trailhead
cars to pass on a one-way bridge before cycling across.   And, when urban riding, etiquette recommends stopping for an elderly person preparing to step into a crosswalk.   Those are easy.    But what is the proper etiquette, when rounding a corner while barreling down a forest service road on a full suspension mountain bike in the Methow Valley on a beautiful June morning with the North Cascade mountain range in full glory on the horizon, you encounter fifteen head of cattle, herded by two horseback wranglers and a small dog, completely blocking the passage?    Such was the dilemma facing me yesterday.

The options were limited:    (1) ride on, hoping to maneuver through the huge beasts; or (2) brake hard and: (a) look for an escape route in the steep gully to the left or the steep bank to the right, (b) turn around and head back uphill, or (c) stare dumbly (like the cattle) at the developing scene of creatures scattering in all directions despite the frantic corralling attempts of the horsemen?

Primitive Road (and beginning of
"Etiquette Training Program")
If you guessed (2)(a) you would, according to the enraged wrangler, have correctly complied with his demand to “show some etiquette”.    Much to his angst, however, I chose (2)(c).    From my stationary position watching the chaotic scene I thought of a new word: entropy, defined as lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

The circumstances couldn’t have been more contrasting:   mountain bike vs cow; cyclist vs cowpoke.   I don’t carry much weight as it is, but there was a distinct sense of the diminutive amidst the tonnage of a cattle herd and adjacent to an irate man astride a huge horse.    Etiquette demanded that I depart, downhill, rapidly, reminded of Roy Rogers:   his lyrics:  

Part of Pipestone
Canyon Loop
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

and the second and seventh of The Roy Rogers’ Club rules:  
Be courteous and polite, and be kind to wary of animals and take care of to avoid them”.


Addendum (from Mike Hassur):  for those of you too young to know Roy Rogers; he was a very popular radio/TV/movie cowboy in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s.  He was sort of the “Mr. Rogers” of Westerns.

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