There have only been three times in my life when I’ve been afraid that I was going to die.
The first time was when I was a college student. I was at my parents’ house and went down to the lake with my younger brother. The landlord’s German shepherd decided to attack us instead of being his happy self. I ran as a decoy as my brother went toward the house.
The second time was when the obstetrician looked at me with wide eyes as my blood pressure dropped. It was either surgery or lose both my son (Mountain Kid 3) and myself. Luckily we had to do neither.
The third time was today, during a bike ride.
I haven’t ridden a bit outside since 2015. Having a bike that doesn’t have working
gears isn’t good for the mountains.
But it’s perfect for the coastal, rural retirement. Tonight was the first time I took the bike on the road.
The breeze in my hair felt awesome. My husband’s Quintana Roo is old but feels fast. The roads are pothole-free, a great improvement over West Virginia roads.
I decided to go straight through an intersection with the hopes of making to a campground that I thought was at the end of the road. It offers a great view of the nearby river that filled the air with a cool, sea-like breeze. I had never been on the road and vaguely remembered its name.
But the road didn’t end at the campground. I went on, feeling great and revived.
Then I saw a large black dog sitting in a yard. Some dogs in our neighborhood could care less about humans. Some are protected from cars by an invisible fence.
Others jet from behind their owner’s house and, with their buddy in tow, start barking and nipping at your heels.
And yes, the black dog had a buddy, a fast buddy, a brown, tall hunting dog similar to a pointer.
Do I pedal faster? Go slower? I know I should look less scary to new dogs to win them over. But when you’re on a bike, I have no clue. There is probably 100 recommendations of what to do, but I have no idea what actually works.
My first thoughts, I’m going to die; I think I know these dogs; and I can’t die, I have kids take care of.
No! NO! Noooo!!!!!
I yelled “no” over and over, keeping my leg closest to the dogs up in the air but on the pedal. Then it happened. My right Brooks Launch 3 shoe got bitten.
I am going to lose the only protection I had on my legs, I thought. I kicked my foot around, freeing my shoe from the dog’s grip.
I wasn’t scared anymore, I was mad. And the dogs kept chasing me, barking and nipping at my right leg. No one came out of the house to control their dogs. “No” meant nothing to the dogs.
I had asked my daughter to go out with me. I thought she’d like the adventure. She could have been bitten … we could have been bitten. Or worse.
After what seemed like forever, the dogs stopped following me. I took a deep breath and got my bearings, heading down the road to the nearest intersection.
At the intersection I found the name of the road I was on. About a month ago, Mountain Papa was attacked by two large dogs — one black and one brown — on the same street. Riding the same bike. I knew those dogs. I was warned not to go down this road.
Crap, if I just stopped at the campground or went the way I originally planned, I wouldn’t have been feeling my heart beat throughout my body.
I knew kind of where I was, so I turned left and took a different way back home. My heart was in my chest for several miles.
As I turned onto my street, I saw my neighbor’s dogs run back home after being let loose and going into my yard earlier in the evening. My heart raced a bit, as I knew one of the dogs liked to chase my kids and I was we ran. They were just annoying, not biters.
But I was on a bike, so I didn’t know what would happen. Luckily they were too occupied about getting patted by their humans parents to notice me go up the road to our home.
I got inside and told Mountain Kid 1 what happened. She gave me a red velvet Oreo, which I must admit was the best damn Oreo I have ever had.
I will not go down that road again. I will ride again — feel the breeze through my helmeted hair and the road roll beneath me.
I really don’t know what to say to the dog owners. I know I’ve talked about dog owner responsibility as a concerned parent, pet owner and athlete. But now … just wow. Really?! Just wow … I’m angry, scared, disappointed all at the same time.