Come along fellow Rough-Stuffers… Join me as I traverse the wilds of northern Nevada and northeastern California and share some two-wheeled adventures in the remarkable place I am fortunate to call home. I invite you to sit back and revel with me in this wondrous world filled with the mysteries that reflect the arc of geologic time, that proudly display the remnants of Pleistocene epochs standing out in plain view, all adorned with the subtle and nearly hidden overlays of human habitation from a largely forgotten dusty past.
The series of submissions I plan on writing will be the ongoing adventures and meanderings of a spirited but slow-moving 70-ish-year-old pedaling his way to wonderment and awe while exploring new locations and what it means to live and ride in a world that is still very much feral and wild.
This world I traverse is one that meanders and frolics in the eastern and western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the southernmost Cascades, and the adjacent vast high desert areas of northern Nevada and northeastern California… an intoxicating mix of endless vistas to the south and east, and forested mountain lakes and high snow-clad passes to the west and north. My routes meet and dance with the seasons, both treacherous and tame alike, as this landscape is nothing if it is not breathtaking and extreme. Even wildlife will get its mention in due course since encounters with mountain lions, rattlesnakes, protective mama brown bears, rutting antelope, wild horses, rabid coyotes, and so much more are part and parcel of this largely untamed land. An intoxicatingly diverse place to live, ride and explore. Each area with its own unique set of riding challenges that test my mental and physical reserves as well as my bike-handling skills. A true riding treasure that has gifted me with a wealth of transformative experience and a profound appreciation of a wondrous world.
As for my riding companions, they tend to be the strong silent types… decomposed granite, wind-polished and glacial eroded rock, ancient forests, hidden petroglyphs of first peoples, and a variety of hardy flora and fauna surviving the ravages of time, weather extremes, and wildland fire. I am a guest in a harsh and beautiful world where survival is not a foregone conclusion.
Welcome to this strange and compelling world, a place that embodies both the beauty and the beast and one that I have learned to not trifle with. A world where even simple outings can quickly turn upside down if one does not respect the risks and heed a motto that includes the notions of “being prepared” and “some degree of caution”… a place for a lover of the “Rough Stuff”… all in a land that moves to the rhythm of geologic time, a land that has been witness to towering mountains ground down into desert dust and endless tracks of coarse inhospitable and nearly impassable sand. Even remote and toxic alkali flats are part of this geologic life cycle… smoothed-out fine particulate sediments that dance with feisty desert winds lifting up gritty clouds of haunting plumes that punctuate landscapes with images of dancing alkali dust devils… a land that is both tortured and replenished with winter’s snow and rare monsoonal torrential rains… a raw land that is as remote and unforgiving as it is epic and beautiful.
I hope I can bring to life the poetic beauty, wild history, and riding challenges faced by this solo “Rough Stuffer”, perhaps inspiring others to revel in their own adventures wherever they may be.
Your Feral riding pal from across the pond,
Desert Dawg O’Neil (aka Blair O’Neil)
- Photos included with this article are from a variety of rides to give a taste of my local adventures