Scariest Bike Ride EVER

>> Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is it just me, or when random things happen in your life, do some of them get you saying, “If I was ready for THAT, I’m ready for Ironman?” I’ve been thinking like that a lot lately, and I had one of those moments last night.

The plan was to do a swim/bike brick. I took my bike to the Highland pool and planned to practice transition out of my trunk. I swam 3200 meters at a decent pace, ran out to my car, grabbed my stuff, hopped on my bike, and headed out for a 40 mile ride on the Gateway Trail. My legs were heavy and I wasn’t going too fast. I was going against the wind on the way out, and I was riding about 16-17 mph. Nothing fancy.

Then I came across 2 women walking a huge German Shepard. Yep, this story is about to take a turn for the worse. The 2 women had their backs to me and were taking up most of the trail, so I gave a friendly “on your left” as I was coming up behind them. They scooted over. As I passed them, the German Shepard reared up like a bucking bronco. He was on a short leash, and the woman in control was holding him back with all her might. I must have startled him. Or he thought I was a deer - a perfect lunch. It was quite a large animal when it was standing on its back legs!

I got past the hyper German Shepard only to have my heart sink when I heard these words come from behind me: “Riley, NO! RILEY...RILEY, NO!!!

Shit.

A second later, I hear the sound of the German Shepard’s claws on the trail getting louder and louder. It’s not a pleasant sound. He came up on my right. (So I’m thinking, what an impolite dog - don't you know you’re supposed to pass on the left? I’m such a bike nerd.) He’s staring at me the whole time. He’s bounding with giant leaps. He’s not barking or growling, but he is making these deep, rumbling noises. He gets ahead me, still looking over his shoulder at me. He cuts in front of me and cocks his head back around to look over his right shoulder. I crouch down and lay into my bike - I hunker down in my drop down bars. “I’m getting out of here,” I think. I start pulling away.

The German Shepard now realizes that I’m an admirable foe, and he kicks into high gear as well. He comes up again on my right. We’re staring at each other - I’m looking just over my right shoulder at him. Then he makes his move.

He lunges at me. Full throttle. I can still see it happening in slow motion. In real time, I felt like it was happening in slow motion. His front paws are spread wide apart, ready to take me down. We were about to meet face-to-face, or should I say teeth-to-neck. I did the only thing I could think of: I took my right hand, kept my palm open, stretched my fingers back, and nailed the heel of my palm right in the dog’s face. The blow landed with a CRACK right between the dog’s eye and corner of his mouth. (Now, before I get any nasty comments, I LOVE animals. I have 2 cats, and I grew up with a total of 5 dogs. I’ve never hit an animal like this before. I only struck this dog because it was about to kill me. I hope you understand.)

I didn’t break anything, and the dog didn’t break anything, but the shot was loud. I swerved out of control to the left from the power of the punch. I didn’t wipe out. Holy crap, how did I NOT wipe out?!? I didn’t look back. I never looked back. I dropped into aero and gave it everything. If I still had hair on my body, it all would have been standing on end. I looked down. My bike computer said 33 mph. This was on the flat, against the wind. I had been pulling 16-17 mph just a minute before. I took a moment to give myself a little half-cocked smile indicating how proud I was of that speed, and then I got serious again.

A moment later, I realized that I had a long scratch on my right arm. No blood, just a long red mark. That was all I was left with from this encounter.

Immediately, I wanted to bottle this feeling that I had. All of these endorphins, adrenaline, and everything else that was coursing through me - I wanted to keep it. I wanted to remember it and use it on those 112 miles on the bike on September 9th. But after a few miles, the feeling was gone. All I have left is the visual of the leaping dog coming at me. Maybe that visual can be my secret weapon on the bike...

17 comments:

IM Able 12:55 PM, August 15, 2007  

Okay, so what you're saying is that we should have dogs released on the course, say, at mile 90? Right?

teacherwoman 2:28 PM, August 15, 2007  

OMG! How scary!! That is one of my biggest fears on the bike!

Flatman 3:24 PM, August 15, 2007  

zoinks! nothing like a sprint to get your HR up... :)

Spokane Al 4:02 PM, August 15, 2007  

Wow - that gets the old blood pumping. Good job in responding with a smackdown.

P.S. What, no close up picture of the scratch?

Shelley 5:21 PM, August 15, 2007  

My heart is pounding just reading this..yah..bottle up that energy!!

Marcy 6:49 PM, August 15, 2007  

What tha . . . .

Talk about S-C-A-R-Y! Wonder how the dog fared after that encounter.

Siren 7:51 PM, August 15, 2007  

As the owner of a German Shepherd I'll say you TOTALLY did the right thing. There's loving animals and there's clear self-defense. Thanks to your quick thinking it appears nothing but the dog's ego truly got hurt on this one.

Hopefully his owner learned a lesson - even the best trained dogs can do unpredictable things. I always try to pull my dog off the trail, put him on the shortest lead possible and make him do a down-stay when people/bikes are passing so I have maximum control if he decides to go bonkers about something. Even though he's a sweet dog for me, I'm not taking any chances with other people's safety!

Tri-Dummy 7:56 PM, August 15, 2007  

Water bottle, homey.

Squirt that sucker in the face with some high quality H2O.

Works. Trust the Dummy. It works.

Iron Girl Nyhus 8:14 PM, August 15, 2007  

Tri-Dummy sent me to your blog... and YES I was laughing out loud :) Hopefully see you up at IMWI!!!

Laura

xt4 10:25 PM, August 15, 2007  

Wow. That was kind of awesome, in a glad-all-is-okay kind of way. I hope you do tap back into it somehow on 9/9. All part of the mystery, man.

IronJenny 7:04 AM, August 16, 2007  

Yes, you are lucky you didn't crash because then that German Shepard might start licking your road rash.
Now THERE's a pic we're waitin' for!!!
See you at IM WI!
Jenny

Dan Seifring 8:42 PM, August 16, 2007  

I am a dog lover, I have a St. Bernard and a Black Lab but you had every right to do what you did. You had to defend yourself.

J-Wim 8:52 PM, August 16, 2007  

As a dog owner and a dog lover, I believe you had every right ti clock that dog. I myself have had to kick one dog in the nose from my bike and pepper spray the same dog ona another trip by his house. He doesn't come running after me anymore. I blame the owner, not the dog. They need to expect the unexpected and keep control. Period.
BTW- your blog is hysterical! The hubby and I are body marking folks at IMMOO - hope to see you there!

GeekGirl 5:32 PM, August 19, 2007  

"I only struck this dog because it was about to kill me. I hope you understand..."

Dude. I'm a vegan, and I can't fight, and even I would have knocked the crap out of the dog. If it's him or me...well, it's gonna be me!

Rural Girl 3:25 PM, August 20, 2007  

I cannot bring myself to comment on the cat hair-licking thing!

But, you do give quite a descriptive and entertaining rendition of the dog chase. Too bad you didn't do the little bastard some damage. I hate being chased by dogs. Can you tell?!

Foo 7:23 AM, August 22, 2007  

The other evening, I was doing some after-work loops around the neighborhood. An old pickup truck was coming the opposite direction, and I could see three teenaged girls in the cab. When there was about 15 yards between us, the girl sitting in the middle broke into a hug grin, lunged at the steering wheel, and twisted in my direction. The truck veered. The driver fought for control; the mentally-challenged girl fought back. The driver won. I lived.

The girls were still laughing at their "joke" as they passed.

Frankly, I think I'd rather bottle the feeling you had after your run-in with the dog. Did you have to change your shorts too?

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