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WHAT'S CHASIN' YOU?
By Alan Ira Fleischmann
Most dogs, when chasing a bicyclist, can sustain speeds in excess of 25 miles an hour.
Dilemma: What to do?
You're riding along, minding your own "beeswax," on a beautiful Autumn day, not a care in the world, and a clear, clean, smooth road lies ahead. Suddenly, a bark, the rustling of leaves, and the unmistakable thumpity thump of pounding paws, attached to a dog seemingly guided by a Stinger Missile laser vector, on a collision course with you.
The sad truth is that all but the smallest dog can outrun all but the strongest cyclist ("A" level) on all but the luckiest of downhills. No cyclist is immune from dog attacks. Subsequently, many writers bombard their readers with personal experiences, and suggest countless "sure fire" solutions to this problem. I decided to try them all with some non-scientific field testing.
Resembling a cross between Bruce Wayne and Wayne Gretzky (A utility belt full of gadgets and lots of leg and arm padding) I mounted my bike and began my course that would take me down streets that I have nicknamed Doberman Drive, Rottweiler Road, Shepherd Street, and finally down Terrier Terrace. I was "dogged" by half a dozen pooches along my route. Here are the results of my test:
I began by trying to outrun the dogs. I couldn't, and you probably can't, either. Exceptions: (a) Big downhills; (b) very small dogs.
Then I tried verbal commands. "No!" "Sit!" "Stay!" These all worked about as well as they did on my ex-wife than they did on the dog that was chasing me. I tried throwing dog biscuits. They're high carbo, low fat, and harder than fiberboard, but how would you react if somebody threw a stale PowerBar at you?
I decided to resort to more physical defenses. I attempted to kick the next dog. Even professional kick-boxers can't hit moving targets. What ever made me think I could? Besides, when you're kicking, you can't be pedaling. Next I tried to hit the dog with my trusty frame pump. Unless you have a surfer's balance and a Jedi's accuracy, you'll probably miss the dog, and fall down. I did. The dog barked until he got tired and went home. Unhurt, I continued until the next attack. Now I got mean! I sprayed one dog in the face with mace or pepper spray (or whatever the stuff in the blue and white can is). Reaching for the can, aiming, and spraying while continuing to pedal, was almost impossible, not to mention dangerous. Besides, the prevailing wind and my own vortex (the turbulence created by me and my bike moving through the air) carried more of the spray back to me than to the dog. I managed only to p.o. the dog and myself, as both our eyes started burning, and I almost crashed again. Wow, that stuff is strong! I then squirted him in the face with soapy water from a squirt gun. Again, the problem of aiming at a moving target from a moving target presented a problem. In addition, my riding had shaken up the solution in the water gun, so the first few shots created a Lawrence Welk effect (and a one-a, and a two-a, and a three-a....). Note: Baby Shampoo is not a good choice for this purpose. Think about it.
Exhausted and frustrated, I met the next one head-on. I stopped, and put the bike between the dog and me. Then what? I was trapped! When he didn't retreat on his own, I barked rabidly at him, hoping to scare him off. He sat down and watched me, but barked and growled when I tried to leave. Finally, the dog's owner appeared. I confronted the owner about not leashing his canine. He smiled and set the dog on me.
Later, I called the Police, the Dog Warden, the Highway Department, and the Mayor's office. They all laughed. I tried to sue the owner of the dog who caused my crash. I'll let you know when the case comes up in 1998.
Sorry if you were looking for an answer. I don't have one. It's a jungle out there. Cars, trucks, pot holes, pedestrians, and especially dogs. You can't fight them, so just learn how to survive them. Wear a helmet, and leave the rest of the defense paraphernalia home. Who knows, without all the extra weight, maybe we CAN outrun 'em!
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