Every urban cyclist has their favorite route to leave the city and log big miles. Regardless of whether your route goes from San Fran to Sonoma, New York to Nyack, or Minneapolis to Maiden Rock, you know the zen-like feeling of being all alone on the open road clicking through gears as minutes turn to hours. And if you been around long enough, you also know what it is like when that feeling is disrupted by a pissed off farm dog that wants to kill and eat you.
I had yet another of such experiences last Sunday. After seeing all the athletes I coach make a safe transition from swim to bike at the Chisago Lake Half Iron, I thought I’d sneak away for a quick 50 before coming back to watch the finish. Nothing big, just a good slow ride that would take me up a part of River Road along the mighty Mississippi River I hadn’t seen before.
The out and back ride started off normal enough – overcast, flat terrain, and two near accidents with wildlife (10 baby turkeys crossing the road and an 8 point buck in velvet). Pretty typical for the Midwest. Then about 90 minutes into my main set, only seconds before my turn around, I heard the barking. Out of nowhere there was one of those hunting dogs coming at me immediately to my right. I’m not talking about the cute little German Shorthair Pointer from the hunting magazine at the barber shop that you want to cuddle with.
I’m talking about a P.O.’d ratty german shorthair pointer that lives outside and eats what it kills. Seriously, the dog made Eddie from American Flyers look like a p***y.
Naturally there was the biggest pickup truck I’ve ever seen coming in the other lane at the same time leaving me little room to maneuver. I took a chance and swerved to the left of the oncoming truck hoping they’d see what was going on and shield me. Nope. The moved over further and hugged their shoulder. I cut back to the right close enough to the truck’s mirror that I could feel it rush past my left shoulder as Killer closed the gap to my right.
Then the most interesting thing happened. The dog passed me. Yup. I got chicked – or whatever the canine equivalent is. In all my years of cycling and running with the 10 or so dog chases I’ve been in, this has never happened to me before. I was clueless what to do. There was enough adrenaline in my veins to spark a fire. Here’s the Garmin file.
If that doesn’t seem like a big deal let me frame the issue a bit. The road was essentially flat and I’m a very mediocre cyclist. My average pace for the main set of my 54 mile ride that day was a hair under 17 mph. The dog chase was approx double my normal pace. I didn’t know I even had it in me. Fear of death does wonderful things went it comes to cycling power output.
So anyway, the dog was about 15 feet in front of me looking back snarling the whole time. I went left it went left. I went right it went right. Then, at one point, the dog was on the far right side of the road and looked over it’s right shoulder. That was my queue to cut left and make my move. It worked. The whole event took less than 30 seconds.
The only tough part was that this was immediately prior to my turn around, remember? I went a couple minutes down, hydrated, got myself pumped up like my high school football days and went flying back. This time I was prepared and had the drop on Killer. By the time paws hit pavement I had opened up a 50 meter lead and the thing didn’t stand a chance.
It’s funny to look at the heart rate data. You can totally see the double peak where it was me vs Killer.
There were many great performances last Sunday. Not all of them were turned in by our fellow bipeds.