Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bella Bites Again!

It rained some more today, but I was undeterred. I have a fendered single speed for just such occasions.

I don't often ride in the rain, mostly because it is relatively rare here. The rain comes hard and fast, and then clears off. But it has rained sporadicly Friday, very hard all night and then it was light rain all day today. (More than 4 and one half inches at dusk today by my rain gauge.) But while I rarely ride in the rain, most of my crashes have occurred in wet conditions. [1] I therefor never ride in the rain without my helmet. [2]

I hadn't been on this bike since I my rear-wheel spoke needed to be fixed, (July?) so I was making adjustments as I left the house- lower handlebars, so more weight on my hands. Shorter cranks, so my feet make smaller circles, stuff like that.

I ride up toward Bud and Bella's house, and a gang of five dogs hanging around spot me from afar. When I rode up, they are waiting in the road for me. I am concerned that one of them will dash under a wheel and take me down. Bella is great fun when it is just her and Bud. In those situations, she is content to just have a good run.

But she is a different dog in a pack. She is aggressive. I am convinced it has to do with wolf-pack hierarchy and status. She feels compelled to be the dominant one. So I am focused on her.

Bella comes at me from my front right and the rest are milling about. Bella leaps up and attempts to bite my hand or arm. She misses but catches my my handlebar instead. This precipitates a diversion style fall: My bicycle goes right, and I continue straight and down, rolling on my forearm-shoulder-back.

This all played out at a rather slow speed, so I am unhurt, but gee whiz! I climb back on my bike after adjusting the brake handle to it's proper position, and continue on, slinging ammonia at any dog that comes near. Within moments, the incident is out of my thoughts, and I have a nice trip to town.

I have made a habit of favoring a longer route to town because it has smoother roads, but it also has three railroad crossings, two of which are at a steep angle. I avoid that way in the wet. No need to tempt fate on wet train tracks! So I return back the way I came.

This time, I wasn't spotted as soon, but not so late that I can get a lead on them. Bella crosses the road in front of me and again attacks on my right side. I maneuver away and fling ammonia at her, but I miss, as does she. She crosses behind me while I avoid other dogs in front of me, and the distraction prevents me from switching hands on the ammonia bottle. Bella comes up behind me on my left and she bites my left leg and pulls me down. (I crash.) I am again doing the forearm-shoulder roll on the same side, but this time I get to use the groceries in my messenger bag to cushion part of the fall! (None of the eggs broke, imagine that!)

Picture the scene: Five barking dogs running every which way in the rain; A crazed and bleeding cyclist splashing through puddles in his cleats, chasing Bella across her yard to home; Four of Bella's people yelling at the dogs and running every which way trying to corral them... Whoo-wee we had us a ruckus!

After I came to my senses, and I had checked my bicycle for damage and peeked at the eggs, Bella's folks provided medical care. (We decided not to wait for Obama to provide it for us) They ruined some great pictures by being nice and cleaning up most of the blood.

WARNING! Photos of Bella's loving caresses follow this announcement. Be advised that ChipSeal took these pictures of himself while in the shower! (YIKES!) Yes, my dear readers, both of you have been warned: Yet more body part photos.[3]

To help orient you, Bella's nose is on my shin side, and her lower mandible was on my calf side.

The calf wounds are simple puncture injuries, but not as deep as the shin injury, where the punctures are deeper and there is a bit of tearing from the twisting movements caused by the dynamics of our motions at the moment of the bite.

While these photos are dramatic, and the wounds gory, they are not very painful, and I am not very concerned about them. I think the blood stained socks makes for a great "war story"! It is said that puncture wounds are the most prone to infection, But it bled freely and hydrogen peroxide was liberally applied within minutes of the injury. I don't think professional medical care would be able to do much more. I am more concerned that Bella will get sick from biting me!

This next photo is included purely as an ego shot, as I remembered to flex my calf muscle before taking it. How 'bout them guns, eh?

So those are the facts. Now to the judgment. Going forward, I need to be more cautious if Bella is out with friends. I am grieved that Bella will lose her freedom over this, as her kennel will soon become more secure. I hope Bella will be allowed to freely roam if the other dogs are penned up for a while- sort of a rotational thing.

As I pointed out in the first post about Bella's bites, we had three or four runs a week for more than a year when she was content to just run alongside the road enjoying the "chase". It is the wolf-pack dynamics in the presence of other dogs that seems to bring out her aggressiveness.

And now to classification. I had two crashes today. In the rain. The first one was a wee bit over the average of miles between crashes, and the second was considerably shorter than average. (I crash about once every 1,500 miles) The averages are a bit misleading though, as this is the second time two of them occurred on the same day- Although on that other day only one of them was in the rain!

Until today, all of my crashes that happened in the rain were because of the wet conditions. (And my failure to adjust how I operated my vehicle in those conditions.)
Ain't statistics fun?

Oddly, in both crashes, I fell in the exact same way, breaking my fall in a safe and controlled way, without thought. Perhaps in doing it just once I would not even be bruised, it was so smooth. (After the first crash I remember being annoyed that my left sleeve was now covered in road grime. I didn't think I had been hurt at all.) But pull that move twice and you feel it the second time!

My helmet has no scrapes that show it was needed, but because the event was not observed by a scientist, we cannot claim it as evidence for anything.

With that observation, I close this chapter of ChipSeal's real life adventures in Texas. I would hope the next chapter is not so dramatic. Please!

[1] I count it a crash when I hit the pavement. I exclude, however, clip out failure type falls from the tally. Those aren't crashes, they are just amusing entertainment for onlookers.

[2] I do not regard cycling in the rain inherently dangerous. I think that I ride in a dangerous manner in the rain. Nearly all of my wet weather crashes are due to my not adjusting for the conditions while turning. I am good at allowing for a greater stopping distance, so that hasn't been a problem.

[3] It is becoming ever more clear to me why fashion models earn the kind of money they do. My body is in no way photogenic!


  1. That phone call you missed, it may have been Men's Health wanting a photo shoot. I KNEW that Bella had some sort of connection to all this (see comment on previous post). My own falls nowadays all seem to happen around MUPs. So as to not tempt fate, I now detour around them if it's wet. The road may be a bit further, but traction is more reliable and even the potholes seem more "friendly."

    Might this post indicate that ChipSeal's reconnected to the Internet?

  2. "Might this post indicate that ChipSeal's reconnected to the Internet?"

    It might! Have I not promised to whine about it? The whole sad tale is a virtual cornucopia of blog-food. It may well become a series!

    (ChipSeal wonders how much of that sort of self-indulgence his ever-shrinking audience can tolerate.)

  3. " I am grieved that Bella will lose her freedom over this, as her kennel will soon become more secure. I hope Bella will be allowed to freely roam if the other dogs are penned up for a while- sort of a rotational thing"

    You are one good-natured dude, at least when it comes to animals. Not so much with off-duty cops etc... I think I must ride like a granny or something, because I love the rain and have never crashed in it... welcome back.

  4. I got chased by a dog yesterday too! Only this would would have fit in a trunk bag. ;-)

    You are far more generous to dogs and their owners than I would be.

  5. Those little yippie dogs are the worst kind. They all seem to have Napoleonic complexes. I had one try to bite my front wheel while I was rolling.

    I didn't say those little yippie dogs were very smart...

  6. I'd go to a lumber yard and by an oak dowel and when the dog was in a pack and demonstrating it's aggressive mode and trying to bring me down, I'd smack the fire out of the animal with it. But that's just me.

  7. I am a bit bothered by this story! I am concerned about you and the dog Bella.

    Why is Bella chasing you on the street?

    Is there no fence in Bella's house?

    While it is NOT good for a dog to bite others, it may not be the dog's fault. I am NOT saying it is your fault. It may be the owners' fault. If she is chasing you, continually, shouldn't she be restrained?

    I hope you recover from your wounds soon!

    Peace :)

  8. Chandra, thanks for visiting, I am enjoying your blog as well.

    There is a difference between chasing and attacking. Many many dogs love to come out and "chase" me- run alongside the road with me.

    A few attempt to bite. A squirt or two of ammonia and they become content to watch me go by from the porch.

    For more than a year, Bella, often in the company of Bud, would have great sport chasing me, and never an attack.

    Both times she has attacked me was in the presence of other dogs as well as Bud, and so I suspect it has to do with her working out some "wolf-pack" pecking order thing.

    This area is pretty rural, and a dog proof fence on the edge of a person's property is expensive. A complaint to authorities about a dog will cause it to be confined in a small space, chained up or destroyed.

    I like Bella, and I have no animosity toward her. But I will not be holding back my squirt bottle either.

    But yes, one should not be subject to domestic animals attacking them on a public road.

  9. I sure hope that you saw Bella's shot records!

  10. You really need to get one of these. I don't know if you can get it locally yet, but seriously....