Real life adventures while cycling in Texas, 32.3° N 96.6° W
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Another Real Life Adventure...
Keri Caffrey seeks to ride on shaded boulevards when she can on hot days. Here in Texas, I try to have the earth provide my shade- I set out on my errand at 10:30 PM local time!
To explain how I happened on this adventure I need to start at the beginning. Not the very beginning, but a more recent one. Eleven days ago, on the twelfth, I set out on an exploratory bike ride that would take me down eight to ten miles of unpaved roads to the east of Lake Bardwell. It is not unusual for me to find myself riding on dirt roads.
A few miles after I set out, I broke a spoke on my rear wheel, and it ended that ride. I am riding on a Mavic Ksyrium SL wheel set with those fancy "bladed" spokes. I have been very happy with them. When the spoke failed, I had 9996.4* miles on them, and they were as true as the first day I rode them, in spite of the hundreds of gravel road miles I have subjected them to.
The broken spoke put such a wobble on the wheel that it necessitated my backing the brake out as far as it would go. So until I get my wheel back from my LBS I have been getting about on my fendered single-speed. I purchased it to be a backup and foul weather bike.
So last night I set out to take some recyclable junk to town and pick up some groceries and dog food and a few odds and ends. Thirteen miles round trip.
I am on the way back, with about 20 pounds or so of loot in my messenger bag, near midnight. It is very quiet as I am headed out of town. (But I am still in the town proper.) I chose this route because it has good road surfaces. I don't want to hit potholes in the dark! When the adventure starts, I am zooming down the speediest part of the trip home. I am going at least 21 MPH because I have spun my cadence past the maximum and I am forced to coast.
I spot movement on the road ahead in the shadows- A loose dog? I'm not sure... It might be. It is the size of a large dog perhaps. This is scary. Something is moving around in the road ahead, and I am approaching it at what now seems a VERY high rate of speed- and on my quiet bike it may not even know that I am coming! I am very afraid of hitting an animal- it could startle and run into my path!
In the past, I have tried various noises to alert wildlife that I am bearing down on them, so they can retreat to safety without a collision. I've tried clicking as one would for horses, whistles, and shouts, all without consistent positive results. On a BikeForums.net thread, someone had suggested "barking" as an alert, as most animals recognize that as a warning/alarm. And that is what I did.
The coyote, in the oncoming lane of this two lane shoulderless road, perceived me at about the moment I "barked". He/she panicked, spun around, ran diagonally across the road in front of me to disappear into the yard on my right. Whew, missed me by that much!
I think I am more at risk of hitting an animal than I am of being hit by automobiles, either during the day or at night. Even the local coyotes seem to be car-centric!
*I religiously log my miles at BikeJournal.com under the user name BornInZion.