In one sense, the photos in this post have nothing at all to do with the story. There is a slight connection, however, in that the story happened during my traditional Saturday morning ride, and photos are from the same ride. But there is no photographic evidence of the dog encounter. The title of this post was originally going to be “Cyclist – 1, Dog – 0”, but that changed suddenly just before dinner tonight. I’ll come back to the title change later. But first, here’s the story.
Still 15 or so miles away from home, I was climbing up out of the lower landscape surrounding the lake. There was a bit of a tailwind, and the long gradual descent after the crest is one of my most problematic stretches for dog encounters. I was simultaneously reducing effort on the climb to save energy, and thankful for that tailwind. Once over the crest, deliberate acceleration ensued.
About the time I reached a good cruising speed, a pack of three bolted from the porch. We all accelerated, but the gap between us was closing rapidly. One of the three appeared to just be out for a little sporting run. Another of the three appeared to be serious, but I noticed that he yielded the first taste of blood for his buddy and was about 2-3 feet back. I could feel the leader’s hot breath on my spinning ankle. I’ve been nipped several times by dogs when they get this close. But today I had a plan.
When I sensed that brief moment when he was about to lunge forward and close those teeth around my calf, I took my foot off the pedal and executed a back kick to his nose. In actuality, it was somewhere between and kick and a shove. I’ve done this maneuver in other locations with great success, but what followed today was spectacular.
I’m guessing we were all doing about 20mph at the moment when Keen sandal contacted K9 nose. He either really was in lunge mode, or simply still accelerating. The combination of me pushing his face backwards with the remainder of him still accelerating appeared to cause his body to buckle. Then he lost balance, tumbled, and rolled down the road. The sport run guy immediately screeched to a halt. Yield-the-first-bite guy kept running, but peeled off to the side of the road. Tumble boy scrambled back to his feet, but took off in the opposite direction.
I laughed, and figured smugly that today’s blog post would be titled “Cyclist – 1, Dog – 0”. Until dinner time tonight, I also figured that this post would end here.
But when I walked through the door with the fish I just grilled for fish tacos tonight, Mrs. Pondero was standing there holding the plastic bag that once held our flour tortillas. Gracie, our pathetic, crippled, rescue pit bull went counter surfing and ate the entire bag of tortillas. Score one for the furry rascal.
Since I’ve been humiliated, I don’t have an arrogant or clever blog title. Maybe you can suggest something appropriate.