Bracken – The Patrol Bike

I used to jog a few times a week for cardio until I passed age sixty and my knees said no más. Since then I’ve switched to cycling instead, which doesn’t bother my knees in the least. Obviously there are cardio benefits to riding a bike, but less appreciated is how much riding does for your sense balance, coordination and agility, especially as we grow older.

I’ve owned the big steel-frame Schwinn bike in the photo since the 1980s and it’s still going strong. I use it to run errands within 3 or 4 miles of home base, which allows me to recon all of the back streets and trails inside that radius in a way that cannot be replicated in a car or on foot. I made the big rack so I can carry 30 pounds or so of cargo with no problem. In the front pouch I carry a cable lock, a basic tire repair kit, shock cords and so on. A pistol or other weapon can also be carried there.

Lately as it’s gotten warmer during the day I’ve been riding around my area at night, and it’s amazing how I frequently nearly run over cats, dogs and geese that are in the road, that are totally unaware of the silent but rapid approach of a man on a bike. Often I have to swerve to avoid them, catching them totally by surprise. By day or night, I also routinely pass within yards of people who have their backs turned to me who are totally unaware that a person is rolling right past them nearly in touching distance, such as when they are checking their mail box. As long as the pedal crank is kept moving, there isn’t even the quiet sound of clicking gear ratchets. The only sound is that of the tires rolling on pavement, and that’s not much.
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-WiscoDave

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23 Responses to Bracken – The Patrol Bike

  1. Waepnedmann says:

    I recall a few years ago in an area of California that was used by motorcyclists for off-road riding.
    Then Mountain bikes became a thing.
    The yuppie mountain bikers claimed that the motorcycle were not only harshing their mellow, also, that of the local deer herd.
    To prove their point the bicyclists paid for a study in which several deer were captured and affixed with heart rate monitors that would broadcast the data to scientific folks for analysis.
    The outcome was that the deer became aware of the motorcycles at a distance that allowed them to exit the area with little or no stress.
    The bicycles, on the other hand, snuck up on the critters and scared the bejeezus out of them.

    • When I worked in Boston, I biked to the train station around 5:30am (O dark thirty!). My route cut through a park, I easily rode around the closed park gates.

      But a couple of times I confronted a herd of deer encamped across the trail. I employed the tactic of screaming as loud as I could as soon as I saw the glowing eyes of the long legged varmints. One day when I returned to unlock my bike at the station I could see deer shit in the spokes.

      I can only hope I gave those bastards a heart attack.

    • Matt Bracken says:

      I believe it! It’s amazing how a cat on the road will jump when startled at the last moment before being run over. It’s hard to guess which way to swerve to avoid a critter in your path, because they might jump into your turn. Usually I holler at about ten feet away. They still leap like they were scalded with boiling water.

  2. Leonard Jones says:

    The bit about your knees saying no reminded me that after 45 years in the
    industrial trades, my knees are shot too. If I have to spend more than a
    few minutes on my knees, I would have to dig out my Hollywood Sports
    Boots (AKA kneepads.) One of my favorite sayings is that I would make
    a lousy homo because I don’t have the knees for it!

    • James says:

      Leanard,I always called me knee pads my “Monica Lewinskys”,but,use them with regularity in the construction trades and thus so far @ the double nickel mark me knees are OK.I also decided except say one or two square on a garage ect. me roofing days ended a few decades back,seems know was a good decision.I catch a lof of flak for that decision but still,look at some of the guys and realize was a smart one.

  3. =TW= says:

    My knees are not too bad but my spine is about done.

    Also, my teeth are OK but my gums gotta go
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5ZlHl80zck

    !

  4. Gabby says:

    Nice. I tramped with a bike for a duration and have not been without one since. I heard that no matter how far our civilization devolves, we won’t ever lose the dominion of the bicycle although there may be periods of time where manufacture of some or all parts won’t be possible, though humans ingenuity will prevail. I am not creative to make up stories. Bicycles are kind of divine and allow access to inner layers of earth through cardio endurance as though one were practicing for a continual life, knowing good and well how much work is involved in living no matter the species. The natural high from riding, like a release unto wind . Scary nowadays when everyone is distracted, including the rider. Once as I was riding at night after a college class in flagstaff, AZ to my trailer off a small canyon way behind little america, I spooked four or so male elk in full regalia, and they began to run next to me the same direction. The sound of them all running set my heart to a different rhythm. I wish I could share the sensation. I wish you safe journeys.

    • Matt Bracken says:

      Beautiful memory about running with the mule deers! Unforgettablly clear in your mind, I’m sure.

    • Matt Bracken says:

      Geez, I need to read better. MALE ELK. How did I get “mule deer” from that?

      • Wirecutter says:

        Spel chek is not your friend.

        • Matt Bracken says:

          Thank God for magnified optics on AR-15s is all I can say.

          • Wirecutter says:

            I’m turning 60 in a couple months and am relying more and more on my old man glasses for everyday tasks. It’s a bitch getting old – somehow I always thought I was exempt.
            I think I’ll buy myself a couple magnified optics for my birthday. I can’t believe I’m having to say that…

  5. Cavguy says:

    Bikes are good , can be used for packing gear easily. But until the gas runs out it’s KTM all the way for me!

    Cavguy

  6. JC says:

    Yes, bikes are quiet, as if most folks along the bike paths could hear you over the music on the headphones or the inane convo going on over the cellphone. I swear, they have the situational awareness of a…, of a…, words fail me. Geological formation. Among cyclists, the convention is to SHOUT ‘On Your Left!’ when overtaking the slower folks. I do declare, that EVERY SINGLE ONE that can even hear me will stop, plant the LEFT foot, and pivot on the left foot, blocking my passage. That’s how I got my collarbone snapped a couple months ago. Let’s not even get started on the people walking their dogs on 40 foot leashes. I no longer ride on the bike paths. I’m safer playing in traffic, or as I call it, ‘combat cycling’.

    BTW. glad you liked James McMurtry. I just found another great WT singer. Name is Paul Thorn. With sing titles like “It’s a Great Day to Kick To Whup Somebody’s Ass” and “Old Stray Dogs and Jesus” it’s hard to go wrong.

    • Matt Bracken says:

      Most places in northern Europe, where commuting by bike is super common, every bike is equipped with a jingle bell. It’s a universally understood audible alarm: Look out, here comes a bike!” Much better than yelling.

  7. Stretch says:

    Live near the W&OD Bike Trail. https://www.novaparks.com/parks/washington-and-old-dominion-railroad-regional-park
    Efn idiots run, bike, and skate with ear buds in. Total Condition White. I’ve pedaled past fox and coyotes that are within 4-5 feet of the paved surface. The canines know when I’ve spotted them and show all due deference. Coyotes have taken small dogs right off those long leashes and dragged them off for a quick “to-go” meal. Maybe back to the den for the pups.
    Have gone Old School and installed an antique bike bell just ’cause noise is so different the Eloi notice it and actually look for the source of the sound.

    • Matt Bracken says:

      Good point, I need to get an old bike bell for the reason you describe.
      I’m always amazed how oblivious even young cute female joggers/walkers are. If they don’t have ear buds blocking the outside world, when walking their attention is glued to a smart phone screen.

  8. Gryphon says:

    Bicycle Infantry. I think the Netherlands Army had them in WWI. Want to Piss Off one of those ex- ‘speshul farces’ types who says “Anyone who can’t Hump a Ruck 40 Miles, Uphill both Ways, is for Shit as a Fighter” just tell them that the Guy on the Mountain Bike can Carry the Same Load more than Twice as Fast, with Half the Effort. Even if You have to Push the Bike where You can’t Ride it, the BIKE is carrying the Load, Not You.

    As Sir Charles the Gook, how well that Works…

  9. Macumazahn says:

    No more bicycles for me… I’m 61 and me knees are still fine – me arsehole, not so much :-(

Play nice.