Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yo Dawg, I Herd You Like Mace, or Today's Ride 3/9/09

Route: 41.1 miles, Levi Jackson loop.

Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, 5 mph wind.

Performance: Average speed 14.4 mph, time 3:03:19. Average HR 148 bpm. Average power 116 watts, maximum power 732 watts. Work 1194 kJ.

Motionbased.com link: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7765458

Comment: Good day for an easy early-season ride at an easy early-season pace. And for macing punk dogs. Yes, I was ready this time. The line was drawn in my head...if a given canine met two out of the following three criteria, he was getting a faceful:

1. Is he within 18 inches of a body part?
2. Is he large enough to reach my foot at the top of my pedal stroke?
3. Is he acting in an aggressive manner? (Many do, but after a while you just get this gut feeling which ones are having a good time and which ones may try something).

And of course nothing happened. Sort of anticlimactic. Mile after mile, house after house, the most faithful of family members were either preoccupied or otherwise invisible.

But about halfway through my ride I passed one house on a hill that never lets me down. It's home to a large, white, shaggy-haired dog that sort of looks like a St. Bernard, only slightly smaller. And one or two other tag-along mutts of similar aggressiveness.

Down they came like bats out of Hades.

And out came my trusty can of Halt!. The same can that, in over 3,000 miles, I had heretofore only fired once in anger. But the unfortunate event of early last month has put an end to those days, I'm afraid, forever.

In a split second, all three of my criteria were met. Out came a stream of ruddy-orange liquid fire in a beeline for two lucky dogs' headlights. And my aim was true. Each of them stopped dead in his tracks, blinking.

Just as the satisfaction in my newfound power was beginning to wane, I found myself approaching another notorious dog-house. This one has a particularly outgoing German Shepherd as head of the welcoming party...a dog with such a primeval hatred of bikes that, if he comes at you from the side, won't hesitate one bit in sacrificing his body to smack into your back wheel so hard that it makes you fishtail. This would be a true test of my defense mechanism.

And out he came in a full-on sprint, companion in tow. Spray in hand. Criteria met. Stream engaged.

What followed was not quite the result I had hoped for or had seen minutes earlier. They paused briefly, but were so crazed that the assault continued. Thankfully though, they live on a flat stretch of ground, so outrunning them isn't a problem. And outrun them I did.

So my battle plan is simple Pavlovian conditioning. I aim to be the instrument of implementation for this cold, hard equation:

bike + chase = pain

No matter how much fun it is, no matter how instinctual it is, no matter how much you want to impress that hott yellow pomeranian down the street. Chase a bike and you will hurt.

And maybe I need to go bear strength on that German Shepherd.

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