Monday, February 09, 2009

A dog tries to eat my leg, or Today's Ride 2/9/09

Route: 18.4 miles, West Corbin - reverse Collier Hill loop.

Weather: Mostly cloudy, 66 degrees, 10 mph wind.

Performance: average speed 13.5 mph, time 50:32. Average HR 147 bpm. Average power 125 watts, maximum power 850 watts. Work 380 kJ. link:

Comment: With excellent weather, especially for this time of year, there was no way I could stay inside today. A great day for a leisurely ride. Heck, I even happened upon an unmarked state trooper as he pulled over a member of the "we own the road" Grays 4-Wheeler Gang. All was right with the world.

Sometimes I think about how a single decision we make can once and forever change everything that comes after. Sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, only you can't go back and choose the other way if you don't like the outcome. It's kind of scary to think about how being 30 seconds earlier for work one day could mean that you are in the intersection at the exact time a semi comes plowing through. Or that deciding to go to Sav-a-Lot instead of Wal-Mart to buy your groceries one day means that you will run into a friend you hadn't seen in years and would otherwise never see again.

My bike rides are kind of like that. I usually have a route idea and mileage goal in mind before I set out, but sometimes I wing it. Like today. As this was only my second ride of the year, I decided to play it by ear and ride for as long as my early-season legs could take me.

About halfway through the ride, I decided the full-on Woodbine Loop was a bit much. But I still had enough in my tank that I didn't want to head straight home...a scenic return route would do. So I headed for the Collier Hill reverse.

I've put, over the past few years, a good 5000 miles on my bike. I've been chased by probably about that many dogs. And I'm happy to say that, except for a handful of instances, I've been able to outrun them. But, as this incident showed, man's best friend has the advantage over a cyclist climbing up a hill at 10 miles an hour.

So as my February legs were climbing, a dog came scampering my way from my right. A decent-sized mutt with a medium build but an ominously broad head. I pedaled on just as I have thousands of times before.

I looked down just as he made a definite grab for my foot.

Great. I pedaled harder and gave a couple of stern "hey"s as I sized him up. Unfortunately for me, he was tall enough to be able to reach my leg even if I kept it at the top of my pedal stroke. My only hope was that I would outrun him or he would give up.

But he wasn't done. All I could do was keep pedaling and wait for the next attack.

I felt something on my lower right leg that I can best describe as a cross between a tug and a pinch. Not violent -- the rest of my leg didn't react as if it was being pulled at all. Just a nip. More heys and more pedaling.

The dog was still trotting alongside. Still not ready to call it off. I began to weave toward him and away again, hoping to use my size to my advantage. Finally he receded behind me.

I glanced down at my leg just as my heart rate monitor screeched at me to calm down. I could see a dark area on the outside, not unlike a grease mark you would get on the inside of your leg from rubbing against the chain. I reached down to feel it. I brought my fingers back, hoping with some irrational hope that they would indeed be black with grease. They were wet with blood.

At this point I was pretty ticked off. I made a slow turn, ready to head back and give this guy's owner a piece of my mind. But with no owner in sight and Fido showing renewed agitation at my approach, I stopped. I would have to fight this battle another day.

A couple of hours later I was at the doctor's office getting my overdue tetanus booster. The dog is now tied up, and although his owner's exact whereabouts are (supposedly) unknown, the next-of-kin have assured me that they will keep an eye on him for the next couple of weeks. My neat little half-circle of tooth marks will probably be sore tomorrow.

My last severe dog run-in led to my buying a can of pepper spray. Maybe the legacy of this one will be the handlebar holster.

The culprit in quarantine.


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