Back to Nature

Riding through neighborhoods, I don’t usually deal with the same sort of traffic hazards that a lot of cyclists do. But we small-city folks face other dangers, as I discovered just last weekend. While riding home from our tune up, Pinkie and I were accosted by a horrible, slavering beast. I couldn’t take a picture because I was too busy pedaling for our lives, but it looked something like this:



Well, not really–but that would have made an awesome story, no? Had I lived to tell the tale, that is. But as a blogger I have a sacred duty to tell the truth (hate to be the first to corrupt the oh-so-trustworthy Internet) so I feel compelled to reveal that the dog actually looked more like…



…this. I have to admit I was still afraid when he started running across a lawn toward my bike, but it was clear almost immediately that he just wanted to play. Soon he was frolicking next to and in front of my bike as I swerved to avoid him. Did he think I was a car? A cat? I don’t really know, but since I was struggling to get up one of the steepest hills in the neighborhood, I didn’t appreciate him killing my momentum.  I have never wished for a bell more, though I’m not sure it would have dissuaded him.  A couple of blocks later he finally lost interest and headed back in the direction we had come.

It did make me wonder what I could have done if the dog had actually been ferocious. On flat ground or even a moderate incline, I could have outrun him, but not uphill. A coworker asked me once if I carried mace–I thought that was a bit silly since I’ve yet to see a criminal on a bike. But now I wonder: would it be worth carrying for something like this?

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13 thoughts on “Back to Nature

  1. msdottie says:

    Ha ha! Rawr, indeed. That is one scary picture. I have noticed that dogs are very interested in moving bikes. I bought mace but don’t carry it because I’m sure one day I would accidently spray myself in the face, but I need to start. You could do what old people do when they go on walks – carry a really big stick :) Might require some practice.

  2. spiderleggreen says:

    Deceptive advertising… very effective.

  3. Charmaine says:

    I’ve heard that if you carry some dog treats to toss to dogs, that’ll take their mind off of you for a little while. :) Charmaine

  4. Ashley says:

    I like the dog treat idea…or maybe an air horn or something?

  5. Jennie says:

    Ha! Fred Astaire would turn his nose up at you if you threw a dry fiber-y dog treat at him! I suggest fresh meat. Just have it in you pocket ready at all times ;) Wait. That might attract more dogs. I don’t know. I am no help today!

  6. Elisa says:

    I have had to deal with dogs. Both big and small scare me. Big ones are scary b/c, well…they are big. Little ones are scary because I am sure one is going to one day get stuck in my spokes! eek

  7. Trisha says:

    Hmm. Dog treats might be a good idea. Air horn also. Jen, I’m not sure how carrying around raw meat would go over in the summertime. ;) Spiderleggreen, thanks for the…compliment? ;) Hey, I did fess up before the fold!

  8. Allison says:

    Yeah, me? I’d totally carry the mace ;)

  9. Val says:

    I have been chased by many a dog, and I think that most of them are just disturbed by the fact that your feet don’t seem to be doing the right thing in relation to the ground – they always seem to be barking directly at my feet, trying to get them back on the ground where they belong. Every now and then one will actually be trying to attack, and at that point the first thing I will try is the Tone of Command. You’ve heard it before – just channel the nastiest Drill Sergeant ever and yell “BAD DOG! GO HOME!” This will not ususally cause them to obey you, but it does frequently confuse them, and cause them to lose momentum. The other thing I have noticed is that they almost always only chase something that flees. If you stop and start walking towards them, while telling them exactly what you think of them, that will also usually confuse them, and cause them to retreat. Keep the bike between yourself and the dog, and let them know who is boss. Otherwise, I have heard excellent things about Halt! brand dog repellent.

  10. Trisha says:

    Great ideas, Val. I saw a dog walker use the “GO HOME!” shout to good effect just the other day. Will also look into Halt! repellent.

  11. Christopher Paul says:

    I had the same thing happen to me the other day riding home through a cramped row of houses. A big brown doggie came running from his garage towards me, all I saw where teeth his big eyes and more teeth. Of course he was just interested in what was rolling down the street at that moment but he scared the hell out of me. Here’s what I did: I grabbed my water bottle and gave him a quick squirt on the nose/face. He didn’t like the water on his nose, most dogs don’t, so he stopped off after a second or two and started sniffing the flowers because I guess he smelled another dogs scent at that moment. Don’t use mace.

    Here’s a post about it.,com_joomlaboard/func,view/id,9098/catid,5/

  12. Dick says:

    Trisha, Dec 7th
    Comments on your dog/coyote situation and wanting a spray: the best might be bear spray that is used in the Yellowstone area; wasp spray probably the cheapest and should work; and mace would be last on my list. This is just an untried opinion. You might practice using the wasp spray while riding to see how it works for you and should be good to use multi times. I wouldn’t worry about a coyote.
    Good luck. :-) Dick in Pekin, ILL

  13. luskwater says:

    Back when I was dog training, not riding, I used a CO2 bike tire inflator as a training tool, and to frighten approaching dogs, if necessary. (I’ve also used pepper spray, yes.) The sharp high-frequency noise might be a first resort, before pepper spray.

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