August 30 , 2004: Tall tales of the Bloody Shins trail
The wind howled, the swinging saloon door banged indifferently on its crooked hinges, coins clinked on velvet; from one of the dark corners of the room came the sound of a scuffle. At the bar, two old hands were knocking back whiskeys.
Suddenly, the doors swung open and a burst of gritty high-desert air ushered in a dark figure, silhouetted against the setting sun. Click, click, click, his cleats jingled as he crossed over to the end of the bar under the watch of numerous furtive glances.
"Whaddle ya have stranger" tentatively offered the barkeep.
"Gatorade, and give me the bottle" was the only response.
Gradually, the tension eased and the patrons went back to their gambling and their drink. The two barflies drunkenly recounted every bad joke and unfounded rumor they could remember. Eventually they turned their blurry gazes toward the end of the bar. "How 'bout you stranger, what's your story" asked Gabby. "Yeah, what you got to say fur yerseff hoss?" piped in Pecos Phil.
Silence, then, "Name's Cannonball, and I just come down off the Bloody Shins trail out of Winnemucca--"
"Ah that's horse shit!" came a challenge from across the room. "Ain't nobody come through on the Bloody Shins since Clem Johnson broke his collarbone in '96. This guy's fulla crap."
"Mister" said the stranger in a firm, even voice, "you calling me a liar? 'Cause I can tell you stories about the Bloody Shins that'll have you tipping tit-nibble to a country-fried jackass."
. . .
"I set off hoping to move east along the ridgeline of Winnemucca mountain 'fore heading up to water my stock at Golden Pond. From there, I planned to swing by Giant's Grave and the Lost Forest on my way into town. Well, I didn't get no more'n a half mile before that fine powdery dust started coating my mount and my throat. It was tough to get solid purchase on the loose, rocky, sandy trail, and the sun was powerful hot and bright."
Glasseye Merv from Wichita cut the stranger off. "What the hell was ye doin' out thar in the first place? Whaddya a city boy" The entire hall erupted in a thunderclap of laughter. "Hey fellas" Merv bellowed, "we got ourselves a city boy, haw, haw, haw."
Unfazed, the stranger continued. "I thought I could cover the entire distance of 24 miles in a couple of hours, but the desert distorts distances, and I soon lost my way. For hours I wandered along confusin' strands of singletrack that kept a'crossing other larger wagon roads. My map weren't worth a good god damn out there in the dust and scrub. I was like as to use it to wipe my ass as to navigate. Finally, I got ma bearin's and set out on a proper course. Ole Blue and I got into a rhythm and we covered some good distance, making it into town before sunset."
"Make no mistake gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that the Bloody Shins trail can be done, but it's nastier than a west Texas blueblood posing as a good ole boy. It'll eat you up if you ain't careful."
. . .
The stranger stayed for a few more rounds and then wandered back out into the desert night. Nobody ever saw him around those parts again, but legend has it that the feller they called Cannonball rediscovered the Bloody Shins trail and put Winnemucca back on the MTB map.
|Mileage: 17.05||Time: 1:51:43||Avg: 9.1||Max: 28.0||Weight:|
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