Why Bicycling Makes More Sense
I headed out to hike the White Tanks, a fairly benign set of hills in the west valley outside Phoenix. Since this vacation was shorter than most, I decided to leave the bicycle at home and only bring my hiking boots and a hydration pack. I was trying to make the best of my few non-wheeled excursions.
I was about a half mile into my morning hike, experimenting with close-range photos of some desert blooms.
As I turned to continue walking my ankle was pierced with pain. Yeouch! A hand-sized, unevenly shaped, prickly brown thing attached itself to my leg. I breathed-in sharply. Snake?noAnimal?dunnoPlant?maybeIdon'tknow!!
Logic: Remove offending object, pain will subside.Turns out, the toe of my right shoe had picked up a piece of dead cactus. As my right foot was swinging past my left leg to take the next step, there wasn't enough clearance. Motion and speed combined to pound a good sized chunk of cactus into my left inner ankle. When I finally calmed down and looked at the situation, it had me stymied. Obviously cactus spines are barbed. How deep did they go? do I yank them out? how? will it rip apart my leg? are there toxins? what if one breaks off in my skin? IT HURTS!
Action: Shake foot vigorously!
Result: Object still attached, pain continues.
Logic: Object requires assistance in removal.
Action: Grab at object with right hand in order to fling object to ground and examine.
Result: Object still embedded in leg, pain increases due to pulling motion, piece of object now embedded into hand, pain introduced to thumb.
Logic: Do not handle object.
Result: Frustration expressed.
Logic: Remove offending object from thumb, pain will subside.
Action: Shake hand vigorously!
Result: Object still attached, pain continues weren't we here before?
Logic: Instantaneous reactions are not appropriate in this situation and forchrissakecalmdown.
Action: Examine ankle and thumb.
Result: See needle-like dead cactus pod-thing attached to ankle and thumb.
Action: Breathing...breathing is good.
Logic: Individual inadvertently picked up needle-like dead cactus pod-thing.
Action: Carefully grasp at cactus spines attached to right thumb with uncoordinated left hand, and pull.
Result: Barbs remain attached to thumb.
Result: Frustration expressed.
Logic: Pulling off sock will result in assistance with removal of cactus barbs from ankle.
Action: Left hand pulls on sock hoping sock will assist in removal of cactus barbs from ankle hell it works with seed pods back in Minnesota.
Result: Sock is permanently attached to leg via cactus spines, which is plain creepy.
Logic: Abort abort abort.
Action: Yell at nearby boulder.
Result: Heightened indignation due to hike being interrupted by stupid needle-like dead cactus pod-thing!
Logic: Careful examination of ankle and thumb in air conditioned home advised.
Action: Turn on trail to begin half-mile walk back to car.
Result: Walking with cactus barbs and sock embedded into moving ankle just above shoe-line HURTS, dammit!
Logic: None at this time, really.
Action: Stop, take off shoe and really yank on sock.
Result: Sock and several cactus barbs break free leaving puffy, bloody, swollen lumps on ankle along with a couple dozen still embedded cactus spines.
It's odd to be in a predicament and have no frame of reference whatsoever...in cycling, whether the offending article is a nail, a piece of glass, a spoke, a thorn or a pinch there are certain lists one tics through in one's head when repairing a flat. Works every time. Broken rear derailleur cable in hill country? I can get you three gears.
But this had me perplexed. Turns-out that putting one foot in front of the other, in spite of the fact that I've done it for the majority of my 47 years, can be more complicated than I thought.