Friday, June 12, 2009

The Cowboy Spectrum (Slow Down!)

Here is the first of this seasons articles for the Star Valley Independent our local weekly paper. It came out yesterday with the following headline:

Searching Your Soles: Running can offer a time for reflection.

The Cowboy Spectrum (Slow Down)

One of luxuries of running is slowing down. I don’t mean running slower, but just plain slowing down. We rush everywhere. We have responsibilities-work appointments, schedules. There are too many things to do in too little time. Running can be one more daily dragon to slay or a way to take a deep breath (I would recommend several) and relax.
I have had the opportunity of living and running in several spectacular places in my lifetime. I cut my running teeth running the dirt of Tygee Valley and the roads in and around Afton. Sometimes I combined the two, bolting from the school and slipping over the west hills along the old telephone line trails-trying to beat the bus home. I have also run the beaches and muddy trails of the Oregon Coast; chasing herds of Roosevelt Elk through the fog and blackberry brambles.
During Christmas vacations I find myself battling the winds of Eastern Oregon.
One bright morning I was putting in a few easy miles around town, enjoying the warm sunshine and people watching when I realized that La Grande was the center or meeting place of my running universe-collision of “hippiness,” loggers, and cowboy cultures mish-mashed into one town. It wasn’t uncommon for a VW bus to pass one minute and for a Dodge “Dually” Supercab flatbed pick-up to come roaring by the next.
I reflected on the similarities and differences between the bearded, flannel clad hippies and the rough and tough chaw-chewing cowboys. Society today seems to be pushing everyone in polar opposites. The right vs. the left, the environmentalists vs. the miners, the Democrats vs. the Republicans-we fight, we argue, and we push the extremes. The reality is that most of us fit somewhere in between.
If you refuse to shave and own multiple types of clothing made of wool or bough from a second hand store you know where you fit on the spectrum. If you have a ranch (or wish you did), only listen to Chris LeDoux, and own more than one color of Wranglers, you also know where you fit in the spectrum. Myself, well, I’m not sure where I fit in. I grew up on a dairy, but prefer shorts and flip-flops and running in the mountains instead of riding a horse. This may be the only way running 100 miles could be the mark of “moderation.” Maybe if I keep running I can figure it out.


Will Thomas said...

Great article on running and identity. I relate to you, growing up on a farm in rural Idaho & Oregon, but never fitting the cowboy stereotype and for the past 10 years living among the hippies of the Northwest, I may recycle but I don't consider myself a hippy. The person I am, is the guy that comes alive while running the beautiful singletrack through the mountains.

Steve Bohrer said...

I'm another country boy who grew up moving pipe, riding dirt bikes, and shooting stuff. And now my parents and friends wonder what happened to me? I really see my love of running trails and playing in the mountains as a logical extension of growing up and working outdoors.

On another note, I was in Portland for work and visited the Montrail store. They had a couple pictures of you on the shoe wall. Then I asked how to get to Forest Park for some trail running and none of them could tell me. Come on, you sell a shoe named after the Wildwood Trail for crying out loud! I eventually found it, sweet.

TD said...

I've heard that rumor...I haven't seen the photos though.