“The cause of the Rock Creek fire that started on August 5th has been determined. Investigators have concluded that the fire was started from a bicycle pedal strike to a rock. Conclusive evidence was found in the fire origin area that was on the Lower Rock Creek mountain bike trail. A fire ignition from this type of trigger is a testament to how dry the area is right now. All residents and visitors are asked to be extremely careful with anything that may cause a fire while you are out in the forest,” the post read.
Really though? Really? I dunno, sounds far-fetched to me. But who am I to argue with a confusing cheese metaphor?
Speaking on behalf of the Inyo National Forest, fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler told BikeRadar that, while the exact cause of many forest fires go unresolved, the evidence in this instance was definitive.
“All the holes in the Swiss cheese lined up perfectly,” Butler said.
Still, I can't help but wonder if she's laying it on a bit too thick, like Mario Cipollini slathering his partner with Camembert at his notorious annual "festivo de quattro formaggi" bacchanal:
According to Butler, while this may seem like an incredibly unlikely chain of events, the US Forest Service has evidence that this has happened before. She notes that sparks from chainsaws and lawn mowers are frequent causes of wildfires. To date, there have been 4,084 wildfires in California, burning a total of 150,498 acres in 2016.
Okay. Quiz time. Which of these does not use an internal combustion engine?
Well at least I'm assuming #1 and #2 use internal combustion engines. I live in an apartment building in New York City, what do I know? Maybe this stuff has gone green now and runs on electricity and kitten farts. Anyway, I'm sure if I'm wrong I'll never hear the end of it from from the Lawn Care Freds:
("Hey Fred, where's your helmet?")
And for that matter I don't know the first thing about forest fires either, so I should probably shut up about it. However, I'm a blogger, and when has ignorance regarding a certain topic ever stopped me before?
Nevertheless, the danger here is that this could serve as a pretense to ban mountain biking from the area, but fire expert and cheese enthusiast Butler assures us this is not the case:
Butler, who is a mountain biker and has frequently ridden the Lower Rock Creek Trail, doesn’t believe the incident will result in trail closures to mountain bikers, nor does she view mountain bikers as more of a fire hazard than any other trail user group.
“This is not about pointing fingers; we know it wasn’t done maliciously. We understand that mountain biking is a popular activity and we’re not trying to say that this is a reason to stop. It’s just something to be aware of,” said Butler.
Though if they could find a way to pin this all on e-MTBs and ban those I'd say that would be a win-win for pretty much everybody--except maybe this guy:
Actually, if they could pin it all on that guy so much the better.
In the meantime, expect IMBA to recommend that mountain bikers in fire-prone areas ride with oven mitts over their feet.
As for me, yesterday afternoon I headed out for a ride on my Milwaukee:
I'm pleased to report I set absolutely nothing on fire, and that includes the Strava leaderboard, because not only am I slow as warm Camembert, but I also don't use Strava. Indeed, I'm proud of being slow. Plus, if I rode quickly I'd miss out on the local fauna:
Shortly thereafter I came to this raging stream. "Hey beaver, why don'tcha chew me up a nice dam?," I shouted at the nearby varmint:
To which he replied with a scowl, probably because he wasn't a beaver at all, he was a groundhog:
Of course I didn't realize that at the time, and I thought he was just being lazy. Fortunately though after a couple of hours I finally mustered up the courage to cross the stream myself:
In case you're wondering, I shouldered the bike and used a staff I whittled from a tree branch to check the depth.
For awhile after that all was going well. I stopped at a café and spent like $47 on an iced coffee and a gluten-free cookie. Then I headed over to the paved bike path for the return trip:
"On your left!," announced a voice from behind, and I turned as a Fred on a fancy new carbon bicycle passed me, another rider on an old metal bike glued fast to his wheel. As they continued on their way I wondered why this intrusive and distracting announcement was even necessary. After all, I was already all the way to the right and traveling in a straight line. Furthermore, the bike path was both amply wide and totally empty. So why not just pass me in silence?
No sooner had I completed this thought then there came another "On your left." This time it was a group of five riders. Already annoyed from the last encounter, I was now doubly so, and to make matters worse another rider in the very same group also said "On your left" to me as they passed:
This was three "On your lefts" now in about as many minutes. Worst of all, after passing me they just kind of sat there in front of me, so my only choices were to either pass them back or stop and fire off some angry tweets about Freds who say "On your left" to put some distance between us.
I chose the latter.
Even so, I passed them two more times: once when they were stopped for a group chat, and again as they were loading their bikes onto the trunk racks of their cars.
I also passed this couch:
"On your left!," I did not say to it. Why? Because it was already on the right and it was behaving perfectly predictably. You know, just like I had been when all these people said "On your left" to me.
I mean really, if you need to pass just pass. And if you think the person ahead of you needs to know you're coming because they're swerving or something, sure, go ahead alert them--but try to be more polite about it. For example, why not work in an "Excuse me?" You really shouldn't address people differently on a bike then you do on foot. Even a simple "Passing on your left" can make a world of difference. Do you say "On your left" to your fellow shoppers when you're pushing your shopping cart down the produce aisle at the supermarket? Of course not. You sweeten it up a little. (But not too much. "Excuse me, do you mind if I get a look at those melons?" can easily be misinterpreted in certain situations.) It's those three monosyllabic words alone that can be so infuriating. I'm sure Martin Amis would explain that it's because "On your left" is a molossus, and those three stressed syllables impart a sense of urgency and unrest.
Perhaps most vexing of all though was this sign:
Let's have a look at this turn that's so hazardous it requires dismounting your bicycle. First you approach it like so:
Then it goes this way:
Then it's completely straight for miles:
I'm lucky to be alive.
Duuude! He's the SoCal Keith Maddox!