Back in my early mountain-biking days, I routinely spent Sunday mornings with friends riding Trail 100 through the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. One day, as three of us were snaking through some nice singletrack that was being encroached upon by a sprawling subdivision, I heard the barking and yelping of a dog after my friend Mark led into some tight turns around a cluster of manzanita and boulders.
As I rounded a corner behind him, I saw a startled, upper-middle-age woman standing beside the trail and holding a furry little lapdog. I assumed we had surprised her during her morning walk, so I tried to put a positive spin on things by smiling and saying, “hi.”
A few turns later, I found Mark straddling his bike and looking back down the trail as Cris pulled up and stopped beside us.
“I just ran over that fucking dog!” Mark said.
I responded with something intelligent, like, “Huh? Wha …? Are you serious?”
Yeah, he was. He had rounded the corner just as the unleashed dog decided to charge a rolling beast that was 10 times its size, and ended up as a speed bump under both of Mark’s wheels.
Now, if most people ran over a pooch, they'd stop. But Mark made the instantaneous and logical decision that the situation wasn’t his fault and the only thing to be gained by stopping was a potential tirade by the dog’s owner, so he simply said, “Oops, sorry” as he rode by the woman and pedaled on up the trail.
Besides, he might have been groovin’ (at least a little) on the fact he had cleaned a dog without dabbing.
I mean, sure, it was a small dog, but this was in the medieval days of toe clips and fully rigid frames, when indexed thumb-shifters passed for innovative technology. And Mark pulled off the move when the penalty for error would have been an unhappy landing in a pile of prickly pear cactus. The man was in the zone that day.
Call me a heartless bastard if you wish, but every time I remember that incident it brings a smile to my face. It was the best example of riding over a live mammal I ever saw until a co-worker in Anchorage managed to ride a rigid hybrid bike over a kid.
Sometimes, I like to pause and appreciate the technological advancements we’ve seen in mountain bikes over the 18 or 19 years since Mark made a mogul out of Muffin.
And then I gaze off into the distance and imagine what kind of unleashed dogs Mark could run over today with a plush, full-suspension rig.