Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two types of people on the bike

One of the greatest hazards when riding your bike on the back roads of Bradley County (or any other community for that matter), is the unfenced, unleashed, and otherwise unconfined dogs. I have seen all too often my friends and riding partners go down in a heap after a dog runs under their tires. I have been fortunate, while I have had many close calls, I have yet to be taken down by a canine friend. In fact, on my "old faithful" ride to and from Red Clay State Park, I have essentially mapped the ride by the dogs I'll encounter. There is the crazy German Shepard I have called the Yard Nazi - that family must have a invisible fence because he will run to the edge of the road and run tight circles until I am out of sight (somewhat humorous). There is Duke II, because he is very friendly and likes to run alongside of me, and looks just like my old dog Duke. There is Rocco II, a little Terrier Terror that makes every effort to run between my tires and the culprit of my closest calls (I now ride quiet on the approach and make a sprint attack past the house, much like the group finishes at the Tour de France - except it is only one fat guy on a bike and a little 20 lb. dog chasing him through the back roads of SE Tennessee). There is Gramps, an old lab mix that only raises his head to bark, but never gets off the porch, and Doggy Bolt, an incredible sprinter for short distances who otherwise has no endurance. There have been many other dogs on this route come and go over the years (I am fearful that the "go" was a sad ending created by a vehicle larger than a bike).
Now I have ridden with many people in this community and there are generally two ways to deal with the dogs - love and contempt. I am not judging either, but it seems to be a common theme. Those that deal with love, either try and sneak by in an effort not to disturb the dog, bring doggy bones to toss to the dog during the chase (hoping it will be a distraction), or actually enjoying talking and playing chase with the dogs. I tend to fall into this category. The other approach is contempt. I have seen this play out with yelling, threatening, and most recently, many riders are carrying a form of pepper spray to hit the dogs with during the chase. While the spray usually works, I have also seen the rider in the draft become a "collateral damage" victim of the spray.
I am not judging or suggesting either is right or wrong, just pointing out an interesting pattern I've noticed, much like the preferences people have of which way their toilet paper rolls open (many like the toilet paper to roll over the top, others prefer it coming out the bottom). What does all this say? What does it mean? Probably nothing, but I am not smart enough to be the judge, I simply write it down for you to ponder. Ride safe and don't let Rocco II get the jump on you!

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