Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 42 Sunday 8/16/09 Grand Rapids to Saginaw, MN

Day 42 Sunday 8/16/09
Grand Rapids to Saginaw, MN
64 Miles
1885 total miles

Hunkered down in a motel room and sat out a torrential rain in beautiful Grand Rapids, MN... The rain poured hard until noon and then the clouds slowly lifted , but never much more than a couple of hundred feet ceiling the rest of the afternoon. When I first thought about this trip, I never thought about certain inevitabilities, sore butt, numb hands and fingers were in the idea book , but I had forgotten about unleashed dogs. I have had a few close encounters of the dog kind, but none so close as today's racer chaser on the Fond du Lac reservation. Good thing I saw and heard this fellow coming from a distance away. I was near the end of my day, somewhere around the 55 mile mark and on a near flat to gradual downslope (thankfully) when this guy broke away from his front yard. He was easily a couple of hundred yards away when he started and I couldn't believe how quickly he closed the gap. It was some kind of herding dog, black and white, and his ears were laid back as he bulleted towards me on on a converging path at a perfect pursuit angle. He could have been a guided missile for the trajectory he took nearly intercepted me. My defense? As soon as I heard him I geared down and started spinning as fast as I could and stepped up a couple of gears as quickly as I could click them off. He entered the highway from the opposite side, crossed the opposite breakdown and travel lanes and came up alongside me in the eastbound travel lane as I was in the eastbound shoulder. I can still hear the click of his toenails and he yipped as he strained to reach me. I had enough presence of mind to reach for my pepper spray canister as I screamed at him and was ready to pull it on him when he ran out of juice and peeled away, just as I started to gain speed. Yup, pepper spray. I also have a small compressed air boat horn taped to my top tube as another alternative, but I knew that that wasn't going to work on this determined dog. So... Moral of the story.. If you are planning on a cross-country bike tour, plan on meeting some not-so-friendly dogs along the way. Trying to outrun a dog on a loaded touring bike is not always easy, and depends greatly on circumstances: the terrain, the speed you are travelling when the dog comes after you and the amount of forward warning that you get. I have become very vigilant and try to assess the danger as soon as I hear the dog. I have had a couple though who have appeared out of nowhere, smart ones, hiding behind a bush or whatever, and who pop out to surprise you at the last second. Fortunately all of those stalkers have been too slow to get to me , but this one today was a reminder that next time I might be riding up a hill when the dog begins the chase-- so in that case it might be a better choice to dismount and confront the animal with mace if the lack of a moving target isn't enough to dissuade it.

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