THE COWBOY CORNER EDITION 11 VOL.1

Posted by Connor McCauley on

Dirt Bikes

All my life, I have been a skier. One day, when I was two years old, my mom and dad decided to put me on a pair of skis and see what would happen. To their surprise, I started scooting my little legs towards the ski lift. I have not looked back ever since. Growing up, I would daydream about skiing on the bus or in English class. Every winter, my brother and I would embark on a large marathon of Warren Miller-like films showing the best freestyle skiers launching themselves off what seemed like skyscraper-sized cliffs and jumping into endless powder. 

My only issue with this passion of mine was the fact that I lived in Pennsylvania. It would never be the daily winter activity that I would have liked it to be. What kept the passion alive was the yearly trip out west to the Rockies with my family. These trips would be some of my favorite memories. Those memories would ultimately answer the all-important "now what?" question that every young person runs into after college or high school. I would make skiing an everyday winter activity by moving to Colorado and working for a ski mountain.

You never could have convinced me that I would like an activity more than skiing. However, I soon discovered my love for mountain biking. It took two years after moving to Colorado before I would start biking on my dad's old 2003 hardtail Kona mountain bike. The main reason for arriving so slowly to the sport was my conviction that dirt and rock would hurt more than snow when falling. I soon learned that I was right about that, but it didn't dissuade me from continuing on my bike. When I flew down my first bit of single track, I found myself not looking back ever since for a second time.

Biking came exceptionally naturally to me. I never had too much of a learning curve, and once I bought my first full-suspension mountain bike, I was almost daily out at the bike park (a chairlift-access downhill trail system). Even bike patrol learned who I was and commented that I was out riding all the time. It became part of who I was, and when I married Helen, I brought it into her life, too.

Things changed when we moved to the ranch full-time. I was suddenly cut off from my daily activities. It would be a four-hour drive to the closest bike park, and I won't lie, that sucked. However, it was worth giving up to marry the most amazing woman ever and help her family run the ranch. However, there was an obvious solution in front of me the whole time: buy a dirt bike. Unfortunately, for three years, the same excuse I had in Colorado before I bought a mountain bike arose: that the sport was too dangerous and also too expensive. 

Last week, it all changed, though. I finally gave in and decided that I needed the daily activity of something close to mountain biking. I took a bullet and sold some guitar gear to buy myself a KLX 300r dirt bike. "How do you feel about it?" you may ask. Well, it's freaking awesome! It is a lot of fun to ride around on the ranch and get some adrenaline pumping.

Aaron and I have had two decent days of riding together so far. Aaron, having more experience than me, was able to show me the ropes. I enjoy giving the bike a bit of throttle on the sand and feeling the back wheel slide around a bit. That feeling was emphasized by the rain on our first day of riding. On our second ride, I started to feel the bike under me and could jump and give some speed on the trails.

I don't feel like dirt biking is taking over my passion for mountain biking like mountain biking did for skiing, but it is an excellent way of letting loose similarly. I can not wait to expand upon my skills, become faster, and jump further. I highly recommend this activity to anyone looking to get adrenaline out!

Rattlesnake

The ranch is full of wildlife, and much of that wildlife is dangerous to humans. Fortunately, if you don't mess with the wildlife, it won't mess with you. Unfortunately, this week, I accidentally messed with a dangerous animal.

There are a lot of different critters on the ranch. We have everything from aoudad sheep to elk to deer. We encourage the growth of these herds and want a healthy amount of these animals. In fact, I can say that I saw more of these wild animals on the ranch than I had seen when I lived in Colorado. This fact means that our ranch is a healthy ecosystem. There are other animals that we need to control, either because of population control, because the animal is dangerous, or because of both. That would include animals such as hogs, coyotes, and rattlesnakes.

This week I got an up close with a rattlesnake. I was carrying a box from the packing house out to the truck. When I turned around, a rattlesnake was sitting right there on the step leading in and out of the packing house. I stepped right over the sucker. I was extremely fortunate not to have been bitten. After a phone call to Aaron, he helped me take care of the critter, and that was that. We were all safer, including the dogs, with the snake gone.

I have a theory on why the snake did not bite me when I stepped over it. Like I have seen in movies, snakes are charmed by certain music played by snake charmers. I was lucky that, at the time, I was listening to John Denver on a speaker and not Metallica. John's soothing voice must have put the snake at bay and saved my life. Disclaimer: After researching, supposedly, snakes are not charmed by music and don't even have ears. Unfortunately, John Denver did not save my life. However, I'm thankful that God was watching over me that day.

Sorry for the lack of pictures I may add some on the website later.

GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR: FOR THOSE NEW TO READING MY NEWSLETTER, MY NAME IS CONNOR MCCAULEY, AND I'M MARRIED TO A FIFTH-GENERATION RANCHER. I WRITE THESE ARTICLES FROM MY PERSPECTIVE A LOT OF THE TIME. AS SOMEONE RAISED IN THE HOUSE OF A STOCKBROKER IN SOUTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA, MY PERSPECTIVE CONTRASTS WITH MY NEW TEXAS RANCHING LIFE. IN 2015, I MOVED TO COLORADO AND PURSUED A CAREER WITH THE SKI RESORTS. THAT IS WHERE I MET MY WONDERFUL WIFE, HELEN. IN 2021, WE MOVED TO HER FAMILY'S RANCH FULL-TIME, AND I BECAME A MIX OF THINGS FROM RANCH HAND TO MARKETER TO RETAIL MANAGER.

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