Saturday was an interesting day to say the least. A couple of weeks ago, I had been planning a “non-epic” overnight adventure. I was telling a friend about it when she casually mentioned that that a couple had been killed near there. I thought nothing of it until I was doing some detailed planning. She was not kidding and I am sorry, I prefer to stay about 250 miles away from random Appalachian killings.
So I had to make a decision about what I should do on this last weekend of summer. Here are the options I had:
Somewhat disappointed about canceling my “non-epic” ride I came up with what I will refer to as the “even less then non-epic” ride. My scheme started with me riding from my house to Williamsburg, VA. Route 5 is an absolutely amazing ride. My wife would depart from the house about 2 hours later and we would link up at the Chickahominy River Park, where the kids could play for a while. Then we would do some shopping for kids clothes and backpacks at the Outlet Stores. I knew this would guarantee some SAG support without any qualms. This could be peaceful and relaxing, what could go wrong with this plan.
A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked if I planned on dove hunting with him this weekend. As I had forgotten that dove hunting was this weekend I had not been planning on it, instead I was planning option A. For those who are unaware of the “sport” of dove hunting it is an annual redneck ritual that involves two of their favorite activities. The first is shooting guns…..need I say more. The second is wearing real tree camouflage. Real Tree camouflage is a less of a ritual and more of a habit I suppose. But none the less both are combined in this fall activity and that is what makes it special.
To understand the difficult decision I had to make, I will go into a detailed description of option B. It involves getting up extremely early and driving to an area where doves live. Imagine if you will, an area the size of a football field with people spread out about every 20 yards or so, all the way around. Yes, I am talking about the Polish Firing Squad scenario. Many people stand next to their trucks, many sit in chairs, but all are poised and properly camouflaged, waiting for the unsuspecting dove to fly over the wood line. Then all of a sudden a dove flies over the trees and proceeds down the gauntlet of life, everyone begins shooting. If you are like me and enjoy a true underdog story, you find yourself actually hoping that the dove evades the barrage of pellets and makes it across the field (even as I shoot). If the dove actually makes it across the field, it can look forward to this scenario several times.
If you are not from the South (I am from the West) you may not understand a couple of things and you may be asking yourself “if you are in an area surrounded with people and trucks why would you bother to wear Real Tree Camoflage?” Another question you may ask is “holy crap, is that guy pointing his shotgun in my direction?” Again, you may ask “if I do hit the bird, with so many people shooting at it who actually claims it.” There are countless other questions you or I have thought of, the important thing is that you don’t ask them. If you do you risk of looking “stupid” or being called a Yankee (once again I am from the West, Southerners do not seem to recognize the Louisiana Purchase, you are from the South or you are a Yankee).
In order to prevent you from making the same foolish mistake, I will answer the above questions and then continue with the option that I chose. If you are standing next to a white ½ ton truck do you need to wear camouflage? The answer is yes, you will blend nicely with the Real Tree paneling on your truck, don’t forget the rear window cover!
The answer to the next question is yes, he is pointing a shot gun in your general direction. However, wearing sunglasses and a wide brim hat help ease the pain as the pellets come raining down on you. The last one is easy, who the heck knows who killed the dove; it goes to the person standing closest or the one with the fastest dog. The bottom line is that they taste like crap and they are about the size of a parakeet and it takes 100 of them to feed a small family.
I hope that you have found this to be informative and will prevent you from looking foolish when you ask the same questions I did. You can also see that I was in a quandary. Option A or option B, what would you have done?
Well, I chose option A, the 40 mile ride from my house to Chickahominy River Park. Much to my surprise I got a taste of option B as well. Unintentionally it turned out to be the best of both worlds, sort of. Route 5 is a gorgeous ride; the road is part of U.S. Bicycle Route 76 which has about 20 of the 50 miles of bike lane complete. Route 5 meanders through the old plantation of Eastern Virginia, trees cover the highway keeping it cool. Not to mention it finally cooled down to 89 degrees which is great fall weather.
So there I was meandering past corn field after corn field and plantation after plantation enjoying the day. I was enjoying the scenery when I noticed a couple of doves flying overhead. I thought to myself, “I am so glad I chose option A.” Then my sense of peace and solitude were quickly broken when all of a sudden I heard the familiar sounds of gunshots. Yes, there I was wearing tight shorts with a barrage of pellets raining down on me. All I could think was “what a hell of a way to go.” As I have noted before, I am a combat vet, I am not particularly fond of being shot at. I think at that point I could have beaten Tom Boonen on that sprint through the corn fields. Fortunately for my nerves the remainder of the day was uneventful. After all, isn't that what we look for in a ride?
I wonder if I can get Real Tree spandex shorts or jersey?