Monday, April 21, 2014

Dog Encounters

At this point in the ride (I think we're on Day 9), I have had several run-ins with dogs. There are many dogs in Alabama and Mississippi that are not leashed or fenced. And dogs do love cyclists' spinning feet!

I have been charged by so many dogs in the last few days that I have lost count. The more memorable experiences have been the double and triple teams--two or three snarling, barking, leaping dogs surrounding me. Typically, a fellow rider has sped by and alerted the dogs so they are ready and eager when I come along. Occasionally, I can tell that I can outrun them, so I'll take off. More often than not, the dogs are uphill from me on an uphill climb, so I have no hope of outrunning them. 

Here's the trick: You have to stop pedaling. You have to stop moving your feet, which is very hard to do when surrounded by snarling dogs and your racing heart is telling you to "RUN!" I suppose there are truly vicious dogs who will attack for the sake of it, but I haven't run into one yet. Mostly they just lose their minds when they see spinning feet. Dog owners will often yell out, "He won't bite you!" but I think they'd be surprised to learn just what their dogs will do to cyclists. (My worst experience, many years ago now and before I learned to stop pedaling, was having two dogs chase me--and having each one grab their own ankle and vigorously shake. Both pant legs got torn and I had little gnaw marks on my heels.)

My worst encounter so far this trip was in Alabama a few days ago. Three dogs were in the middle of the road, uphill from me, and primed because a fellow rider had just cycled by. When they caught sight of me starting up the hill, they came charging down the hill at top speed and full snarl/bark. The moment I stopped pedaling and put my feet down, they skidded to a stop--still about 20 feet away. Every time I tried to start moving again, they would come at me again. The owner tried yelling at them from her doorway; completely ineffective. She ended up out at the road, and we had quite the chat. Eventually the dogs got bored and distracted, so I could slip away. 

Now that my legs feel strong and I feel like I can always get going again (even on an uphill), I will stop to stop charging dogs--even if it adds to my cycling time. 

Sorry no photos; that's the last thing on my mind when these things happen! 

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