04 August 2008

Dog Bites Cyclist

Since I last checked in, I surpassed 1,000 miles on my bike computer (purchased last September). So it stands to reason that, eventually, crazy stuff would start to happen to me along the way. You know... getting hit by a car, stung by bees, caught in hail storms. But I never really thought I'd get bitten by a goddamn dog.

That's exactly what happened last night. I was climbing Gaul Rd. as part of a leisurely 25 mile "easy" ride, and as I hit the third section of 13% gradient, I heard a large dog barking like a maniac behind me and a male human being yelling "Shelby! SHELBY!" I turned my head to look and this large black dog was chasing me down. So as best I could, I started to "sprint" up the 13% hill which means 11mph at maximum effort.

Not fast enough.

The dog ran up and bit me on the back of my left leg just above my achilles tendon. Having a large dog myself, I instinctively yelled out "OFF!" And it worked. The dog turned and bolted back down the hill. In retrospect, it was probably the loud sound I made as it bit me and not my clever dog-training command.

So I stopped to check the damage and sure enough, it had broken the skin with one of its canine teeth and blood was running down my leg. Further down the hill, I watched as "Shelby's" owner attempted to get the dog out of the road while cars and a motorcyclist passed by (fortunately avoiding me on the side of the road).

Once the dog appeared to be out of sight, I turned around and coasted back down to the owner's house to check on the dog's vaccinations. As I pulled into the driveway, a group four rather large women on the back porch alerted the dog's owner that I was there. I waved and smiled politely as the man approached. Large guy -- bright red face, as if he has been drinking beer in the sunshine all day. First sign of trouble.

I asked, "I was wondering if your dog is up to date on her vaccinations. It got me on the back of my leg and--"

The red-faced man interrupted, "Look, ever since this area became part of the suburbs, I hear it from those people across the street. Cyclists and drivers yelling at me, so no offense but this is ridiculous!"

"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm not responsible for other people. All I know is that your dog bit me and I want to know if she's had her shots."

"Yeah she's had her shots!"

"Okay! That's all I wanted to know -- she broke the skin and--"

"She broke the skin?! WELL I DIDN'T KNOW THAT!"

"Yes! But she's had her shots?"


"Okay. Thank you."

I started to pedal back up the driveway when my temper spilled over and I yelled back at the guy, "You know, maybe you need to keep your crazy dog on a leash or in a fenced yard!"

He shouts back, "I have 7 acres!"

And as I started climbing again, I shouted, "Awesome! Then why is your dog running around biting cyclists?"

And that was that. As I continued to climb, I dumped water on the wound and took it easy down Wooltown Rd. It's remarkable to me that a guy allows his dog to run free in his yard, then is shocked and defensive when the dog attacks passers-by. I mean, how entitled (or drunk) do you have to be to 1) yell at the person who was just attacked by your dog, and 2) not apologize profusely for it?

Anyway, I've been riding every other day recently to improve my pathetic average speed over mixed terrain. And last night, even in easy mode with climb and, of course, a stop for the dog bite, I averaged 15mph. Really working on maintaining a circular pedal stroke and a faster cadence. Some intervals, too. I think it's paying off, though not fast enough to outrun dogs on 13% climbs.