Wherein I Vanquish The Terror What Lurked On the Trail

06.10.2009 | 8:45 am

A Note from Fatty: Thanks to everyone who yesterday left comments of support; I appreciate them. Susan’s doing considerably better now.

Last week, Dug, Karl and I headed out to ride some of the Corner Canyon trail we usually ignore — trail that’s good, but since it’s lower, we don’t use much once the higher stuff is available.

I led out for the first climb, because I’m the strongest and most handsome rider of the three of us and have undisputed claim to the alpha male role. It wasn’t even a question, really. I just took my position at the front and began the climb, the other two falling obediently into line.

This means, of course, that I was the first to see the skunk. Standing in the trail. Facing us, tail raised, eyes defiant.

Challenging my authority.

Taking control of the situation, I calmly locked both my front and back brakes, stopping a mere 20 feet away from the skunk. Close enough that it knew I had no fear of it, and would not be deterred.

Never one to back down, I said to the others, “Let’s turn around. There are other trails.”

Dug, however, wanted to press forward. I allowed him to, delegating to him the lead position.

Dug shooed away the skunk by tossing small branches in its vicinity. Immediately, I could see the cleverness of my plan of delegating the “shoo-ing” task to Dug, for the skunk walked off the trail.

And then it re-appeared back on the trail, approximately six feet further up ahead. And commenced to wander idly up that trail, at a pace which can accurately and eloquently described as “slow.”

After quickly assessing, evaluating, stack-ranking and otherwise considering all possible options, I proposed a bold course of action: “Let’s turn around. This trail belongs to the skunk now.”

By this, I of course meant that I chose to let the skunk use the trail of which I was in command.

Dug, however, did not want to leave. As wise as Solomon, I therefore told him, “Well then, getting the skunk off the trail is your problem.”

Dug walked after the skunk, tossing very small rocks and branches — hopefully enough to startle without actually seeming to threaten the skunk — to the side of the animal.

Slowly, the skunk disappeared around a bend. In slow-motion pursuit, dug…um…pursued.

For minutes, I took command of the situation by remaining where I was. Karl stayed in position, ready to do as he was told.

Then Dug reappeared.

I do not consider it a repudiation of my bravery to say that I was tentative in breathing when Dug first came back.

“The skunk went off the trail, finally,” said Dug, when I asked him to report. “I think it’s OK to go on ahead.”

We rode on. I rode in third position, since a leader must sometimes lead by pushing, not pulling, his troops along.

Also, I kept my fingers on my brakes and my eyes peeled, ready to execute a quick 180 should I smell even the most trivially skunklike odor.

After all, I am a great and inspiring leader, but I am also no fool.


  1. Comment by Jason | 06.10.2009 | 9:01 am

    Your a BOSS!

  2. Comment by Jamieson | 06.10.2009 | 9:08 am

    Susan must have changed all the diapers when the kids were younger.

  3. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 06.10.2009 | 9:25 am

    Sun Tzu is smiling down at you.

  4. Comment by Vet Sculler | 06.10.2009 | 9:29 am

    The art of using troops is this:
    “When ten to the enemy’s one, surround him;
    When five times his strength, attack him;
    If double his strength, divide him;
    If equally matched you may engage him;
    If weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing;
    And if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him”

    Fatty – any Chinese ancestors you haven’t told us about ?

    (PS WIN Susan, and Angels on both your pillows)

  5. Comment by Rantwick | 06.10.2009 | 9:30 am

    FEARLESS, you are. So pleased to hear Susan’s doing better.

  6. Comment by Rantwick | 06.10.2009 | 9:33 am

    “What lurked on the trail”? Is that Utah-speak or something?

  7. Comment by dug | 06.10.2009 | 9:37 am

    beware the jabberwocky, my son. and skunks.

  8. Comment by Aaron | 06.10.2009 | 9:50 am

    Dug, you’re throwing rocks at skunks? You can expect a call from the Federal Skunk Protection Administration soon.

  9. Comment by BikeCopVT | 06.10.2009 | 9:55 am

    Funny little creatures indeed, and with one powerful defense mechanism. Just ask my dog Copper, he finds out at least once a year. On the bright side we have discovered a very useful solution to the stink. Hydrogen peroxide (64 OZ), Baking Soda (medium size box), and Dawn dish soap (1 tablespoon), mix in bucket with water and wash. It really works, no more smell.

    Win Susan

  10. Comment by Hamish A | 06.10.2009 | 9:58 am

    Very glad to hear Susan is doing better. Maybe all the fist shaking the Fatty Army was doing over the past 24 hours paid off with the various Entities In Charge.

    I only saw my first ever skunk recently (we don’t have them in the UK), as I was rounding a blind corner at about 20mph. I had no hope of stopping, he had little hope of getting out of the way but somehow we avoided each other and I didn’t get stinkied. A buddy of mine a few weeks later wasn’t so lucky when he discovered a mother and her kits mid-trail. She figured he looked hungry enough to consume them all (to be fair, he normally would be), and let fly. It was not a pleasant drive home.

    WIN Susan! and nice delegation Fatty.

  11. Comment by MattC | 06.10.2009 | 10:21 am

    Fatty you are truly wise to leave the skunk detail to others. Their defense mechanism is unmatched in nature. Be glad you encountered it on the climb. I can say with experience that on the downhill leg you will startle him greatly, and he WILL get a pot-shot off in your general direction, and you will most likely get ’splattered’ (they can shoot farther than you think). And I can also say with experience, DO NOT under any circumstances touch the dust-covered splatters when you finally stop, wondering what they are. They are the ultimate evil scratch-&-sniff, and you WILL probably throw up if you touch one thinking it’s harmless. Powerful stuff indeed. Skunks rule the trails. Period. (oh, and also Porquipines).
    Glad to hear you are back in action. And, uhm…how again exactly did YOU “vanquish the terror what lurked on the trail”? NICE!!!

  12. Comment by Lowrydr | 06.10.2009 | 10:23 am

    You’re lucky the skunk didn’t get you. I’ve heard they like to ambush the third in line just for kicks.

    So glad to hear Susan in feeling much better today. Those drug cocktails can really be hard on the system.

    Peace and Good Karma to you both.

  13. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 06.10.2009 | 10:24 am

    One wandered through our yard the other day and we wisely kept the cats inside.

    Super happy to hear Susan is feeling better.

    Love that you had Dug do the skunk chasing :-) Where is that darn video cam when you need it?

  14. Comment by KanyonKris | 06.10.2009 | 10:39 am

    Horse Whisperer, Dances with Wolves, Butted by Goat…

    Skunk Wrangler

  15. Comment by Michael in TN | 06.10.2009 | 10:45 am

    A skunk? You guys had this much trouble with a skunk?
    On my road ride last week I came around a bend and a black bear was walking down the middle of the road – I did not throw sticks. I patiently waited and finally truned off the road.

    BTW – got my Team Fatty jersey today – its awesome!

  16. Comment by Michael in TN | 06.10.2009 | 10:47 am

    I meant he(the bear – not me) finally turned off the road.
    Sorry – holding a 2 month old while typing makes for mistakes.

  17. Comment by Linda | 06.10.2009 | 10:54 am

    To BikeCopVT-Yeah that’s a great plan but the skunks really hate it when you wash them in that.

    Glad Susan is doing better today…

  18. Comment by Bandobras | 06.10.2009 | 10:54 am

    You guys in Utah are lucky.
    Here we have skunkupines. They have quills that smell as bad as skunks and can hurl them at you.
    Honest you could look it up.
    Whenever you find one always designate an underling to deal with them. The general must be protected.

  19. Comment by Carl | 06.10.2009 | 11:08 am

    This doesn’t have anything to do with skunks… But, my Team Fatty kit just arrived here at work and it is top notch quality. Thanks Twin Six!!! This is perfect timing because I’ll get to debut them during the 2009 Ohio Police & Fire Games on Sunday and Monday in Canton, OH. Last year during the events held in Columbus, OH, one of my fellow competitors followed your blog; hopefully this year there will be more.

  20. Comment by Lissee (formerly known as Bitter) | 06.10.2009 | 11:13 am

    Clever writing fatty. :) I thoroughly enjoyed reading this tale.

    Glad to hear Susan’s doing a little better.

  21. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.10.2009 | 11:21 am

    This is inspiring. Great leadership humbles a man.

  22. Comment by The GPC | 06.10.2009 | 11:51 am

    Just got my Fatty Team kit and am SO STOKED! They look great and seeing the invoice reminded me just how awesome those Twin Six guys are! Bravo!

  23. Comment by Bull Schuck | 06.10.2009 | 12:24 pm

    One night, a buddy an I decided to try going for a night ride near Austin, Tx. The course was used as a circuit road race, about 5 miles long, with about a 450 feet of climbing and a straight down 40 mph+ descent. It was coming down this descent at 9 at night when I saw him, a polecat running across the road from my left, aimed to intersect my front wheel.
    I did what any self-respecting man among men would do. I squawked like a third-grade girl, “SKUNK,” hit my brakes and tried to give it some room. At which point, said aforementioned polecat, hearing his/her name, decided that this was a race. He/she turned left and ran parallel to my course giving me a full view of its business end. The polecat then rapidly noticed that I was much fatter than he/she and that they were no match for me on a downhill. Polecat exited stage left without so much as a single defense mechanism being displayed.

  24. Comment by bikemike | 06.10.2009 | 12:50 pm

    let he, who is without skunk, cast the first stone…or twig.

  25. Comment by Angie G | 06.10.2009 | 12:52 pm

    It is rumored that the skunk is the secret enforcer of the Chupacabra. The plan is to ambush you on the trail, the skunk providing the distraction, then comes the attack!! If performed correctly you leave the trail a bleeding, smelly mess.

    Thankfully your masterful strategy thwarted the organized plan and all three of you made it back in one (rather three separate) pieces.

    Great story and I am glad to hear Susan is feeling better.

    Question- Where was the helmet cam? Dug playing skunk wrangler would have made for great video. :-)


  26. Comment by itmustbeken | 06.10.2009 | 1:10 pm

    Your calm, authoritative and wise handling of the situation was surely a comfort to all involved.

  27. Comment by BikeCopVT | 06.10.2009 | 1:35 pm

    @Linda – the real trick is keeping it from spraying you while you wash it. LOL. By the way doing the happy dance here as well. Postman brought my Team Fatty jersey today!

    Win Susan

  28. Comment by Rob M. | 06.10.2009 | 2:58 pm

    I’m glad to read that Susan is doing better today. Also, I am glad to report that my Team Fatty jersey arrived today. It looks great.

    Now, as to today’s post, let me see if I understand this correctly.

    Fatty, you used your super powers of leadership to get the skunk to move and leave the trail. Then, you had Dug believe that he was responsible for saving everyone.

    And then, in the second half of the ride, you led the group from the back.

    Awesome. That is a truly inspiring example of leadership.

  29. Comment by Marrock | 06.10.2009 | 3:20 pm

    Just do what I did quite a few years ago when one ventured into my yard.

    Goad him into trying to spray, and when he turns and raises his tail, shoot him right square in the ass with the garden hose.

    You’d be amazed at how fast they can move away from you when you do that.

  30. Comment by MattC | 06.10.2009 | 3:27 pm

    Marrock..that’s some pretty critical timing required…a few microseconds too late and, well..it’s too late. Talk about staring down a loaded barrel! Nerves of steel!

  31. Comment by aussie kev | 06.10.2009 | 3:29 pm

    being from Aus, is the skunk smell as bad as they make out on tv ???



    allez cadel

  32. Comment by ricky | 06.10.2009 | 3:36 pm

    glad you lived through this dramatic experience to share this story. well done, fatty. your strong leadership and quick decision-making skills set a high standard to which all of us aspire. and kudos to dug for making the skunk feel like it was his (the skunk’s) idea to leave the trail. this takes beginning with the end in mind to a whole new level.

    happy susan’s having a better day.

  33. Comment by MattC | 06.10.2009 | 4:09 pm

    Aussie Kev…it’s worse than you can imagine. Seriously. Mother nature really outdid herself here…there’s just nothing out there that will mess w/ a skunk more than once. That tail goes up, even bears and mt take the long way around (of if they don’t they soon learn why they should have). I’ve heard that even the chupacabra gives skunks a wide berth. Now THATS a bad-ass animal! Literally!

  34. Comment by MattC | 06.10.2009 | 4:10 pm

    that was ’sposed’ to be “bears and mt lions”…just thinking about skunk smell makes me forget stuff!

  35. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 06.10.2009 | 4:28 pm

    Do you give team leadership seminars Fatty?

    good to hear Susan feels better today.

  36. Comment by blackdog | 06.10.2009 | 5:33 pm

    Hey I got my new Fatty Jersey today. Now all the skunks in Corner Canyon run when they see me. Now the snakes they are another story. This has been the year of the Snake for me. Every ride I seem to see one or two on the trails.

  37. Comment by Jeff | 06.10.2009 | 5:37 pm

    I can’t help but wonder, would you have the same reaction if dug shooed away a rattlesnake?

    …and Aussie Kev, yes it is that bad. Like flatulance and burning tires in concentrated form.

  38. Comment by Bash | 06.10.2009 | 5:38 pm

    Got my Team Fatty kit today! I can only hope to be half the alpha male as our fearless leader.

  39. Comment by Marrock | 06.10.2009 | 5:39 pm

    MattC: There was also an incident that involved the punching a bear in the nose, but that’s a story for another time.

  40. Comment by dino | 06.10.2009 | 5:57 pm

    Thats exactly why generals lead from the rear. HAHA.

  41. Comment by bubbaseadog | 06.10.2009 | 7:05 pm

    so my leetle friend you met peppe le pew hope susan feelin better win!

  42. Comment by Dobovedo | 06.10.2009 | 8:25 pm

    Wait a minute.. are you tellin’ me that the Team Fat Cyclist Jersey that just came in the mail today ISN’T skunk-proof?

  43. Comment by Hilslug | 06.10.2009 | 9:02 pm

    Skunks-haven’t seen any of those this year while riding, but I have smelled them. With all the rain in my part of Utah County, all I see are GIANT slugs. I hate to think what would happen if I hit one of those while taking a corner.

    Glad to hear Susan is feeling better. WIN!

  44. Comment by Tim E | 06.10.2009 | 9:07 pm

    Today I’m thankful that:
    - Susan is doing better,
    - My awesome new Team Fatty jersey made it to my house today and got in the door before the storm hit, and
    - you didn’t get sprayed by the skunk,
    pretty much in that order.

    WIN Susan!

  45. Comment by Jim Masters | 06.10.2009 | 9:35 pm

    I finally received my 09 Fat Cyclist jersey in the mail today!! Mens, Club cut, large…fit me like a sausage casing…I would expect a bit more leniency from the “Fat Cyclist”…I donated to a gal that lives down the street…and as it turns out, she is heading to Salt Lake City tomorrow and plans on taking her bike, so if anybody sees a cute girl in a Team Fatty jersey riding a matching white/pink Orbea, say hello!!

  46. Comment by co | 06.10.2009 | 10:51 pm

    for aussie kev: I don’t watch TV, but it would be hard to exaggerate the defensive effect of skunk spray, so TV is probably not doing so. Think pepper spray combined with overpowering stink. the most rank diaper doesn’t come close.

  47. Comment by Nicholas Bonner | 06.11.2009 | 12:08 am

    Glad that you used your common sense, and didn’t try to pet the ‘kitty’ I have seen the result of that. Keep pushing those guys along. thank you for all that you do for all of us.

  48. Comment by buckythedonkey | 06.11.2009 | 3:45 am

    As skunks are not indigenous to the UK, would somebody mind coming up with a description of the smell? In limerick form, of course.

    Glad to read your note, Fatty.


  49. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.11.2009 | 4:46 am

    Brave, brave Sir Robin!!!!

  50. Comment by Bety | 06.11.2009 | 6:58 am

    Great post! I’ll admit to giving trails over to raccoons and badgers myself.

  51. Comment by Hamish A | 06.11.2009 | 7:01 am

    Bucky, I wish I could do it in limerick form but there’s been a lack of coffee today so this will have to suffice:

    Imagine burning rubber tyres and used sports shoe insoles. Then toss in the worst Lynx deodorant you have ever caught whiff off. Now concentrate it, add a generous dose of burnt curry powder (not the sweet stuff, the HOT stuff) and then add wet, rotting nettle.

    And you’re still not close.

    First time I got wind of one I tried to tough it out (there was a girl present so had to really) but hadn’t realised we were still a good distance away from the source. As we got closer my eyes were burning, my nose was running, it wasn’t pretty. My friend who got sprayed couldn’t stand to be near himself. That’s how bad it is.

    Something so cute shouldn’t be able to stink so bad.

  52. Comment by PennyPue | 06.11.2009 | 7:20 am

    Nice way out of a Stinky Wicket. bwahahaha (Ok, obscure, so what?)

    No pictures?

    You should have stood ten feet behind him, and using your superior throwing skills, tossed a boulder at the skunk.

  53. Comment by Linda | 06.11.2009 | 9:52 am


    It’s a gripping smell, it is true
    And envelopes one from head to shoe
    Hamish A did quite well
    And his essay does tell
    The details of the PU.

    As I rode down a trail one day,
    A skunk did cross my way.
    But the great remedy
    From BikeCopVT
    made the skunk smell just go ALLEZ!

  54. Comment by Kt | 06.11.2009 | 10:56 am

    Yeah.. skunks… my first encounter was after the dog spooked Mr Black-and-white racing stripes kitty at 5:30am. I couldn’t figure out what the burning rubber/burning electrical most terrible smell was and why it was in every room I went into.

    Of course it was in every room I went into, the dog was following me around.

    BikeCopVT has the correct recipe for cleaning your dog (or self) after a close encounter like that– unless you have a black dog, and want to keep him black! :) They do caution that the hydrogen peroxide may bleach your black dog to brown.

    Tomato juice does not work– it only replaces the overpowering skunk smell with another overpowering smell.

    Fatty, glad to hear you escaped unscathed! You used your pawns– er, troops– effectively.

    Did Susan enjoy your story, too?

  55. Comment by Kt | 06.11.2009 | 10:59 am

    Oh, I forgot the conclusion to my skunk story: The skunk family came to a sad end when my boyfriend decided to play Mighty Hunter and stalk them with a homemade spear.

    Long story short (it’s a great story, best told in person with lots of gestures)– he actually speared one.

    I haven’t seen the skunks since– but I have smelled them, and seen their tracks. They just don’t stick around anymore.

  56. Comment by Bandobras | 06.11.2009 | 4:46 pm

    To aussie kev.
    All these attempts to describe skunk smell are silly.
    It is so bad it actually disrupts the sense of smell.
    It is quite possible to smell it from a mile away.
    It will at close quarters make people or dogs throw up.
    That would be the kind of dog that will roll around in a rotting carcass and love it but blows chunks after getting sprayed.
    It is the most powerful smell in the world and the skunks know it.

  57. Comment by co | 06.11.2009 | 8:56 pm

    Re: skunks, for those who didn’t grow up with them or have family members who, in the dark, mistook one for an overly affectionate kitty to be disuaded by a kick (hence the kitty jokes). In the skunks’ favor, skunks are amiable critters, since they can afford to be (evolutionarily speaking). That’s why Dug’s approach worked – he gave the skunk a reason to exit without making the skunk feel overly threatened. Therein lies the danger, e.g., startling a skunk on a downhill corner. If threatened, these non-aggressive critters deploy their only defense, which is highly effective. Think (non-africanized) honeybee: a placid critter that will offer its once-only (kills the honeybee) defense if sufficiently threatened. Skunks can spray more than once (after a space of time), but they do reserve their defense for serious threats. Skunks themselves don’t stink, but their defensive spray is much more than smell, as described by Hamish A & Bandobras. And they are fast enough to spray when a car overtakes them on the highway, reference MattC. Never saw a roadkill skunk that didn’t punish every following car for hours, even if your car is set for internal air circulation.

  58. Comment by buckythedonkey | 06.12.2009 | 2:50 am

    Bravo Linda!


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