The Cotton Valley Trail has become outlaw country. Tracks reveal that dirt bikes -- the motorized kind -- have been cruising it regularly now that the permitted users have thinned out to nearly none.
The dog walkers have quit picking up after their pets. The way a knobby tire flings the feces must be rough on the dirt bikers. It explains why the tracks show them riding side by side rather than one following directly behind the other.
I'm grateful for my fenders. However, I did grab a big handful of dog dookie that was stuck to the down tube when I hoisted my bike onto its hook at work.
Dog crap is much more of a path problem than a road problem. Dogs seldom stop for a squat on a road. They might hit the gutter or the sidewalk, but not usually the travel lane. But I constantly encounter dog crap on the fat tires of people's path bikes. It's an occupational hazard. And when I ride the path I'm in the same minefield.
Today I saw something else to think about.
This morning, about a hundred yards out from the first bridge I cross on the trail, I spotted a dark-clad figure on it. It was suddenly joined by another, and another, the way a flock of wild turkeys will file out of the woods. As I got closer I could see three cheap bikes and assess the attire of the bearded young men. They looked like they might be living under that bridge. Homelessness looks different in a rural area, where the dispossessed can disperse to many more unobserved campsites than in an urban setting. Or they could have been a few dudes out groovin' on the woods on the only bikes they can afford.
If people are living under that bridge it could make the ride in the dark a little creepier. I have sympathy for the down and out, since I fully expect to end my days among them. But I also don't like to meet new people by headlamp on a dark trail by myself.
Guess I'll find out tonight.