March 13, 2023 Comments Off on Dog-gone it!
Somewhere after Ensenada, I started worrying about dogs. I hadn’t been chased but it seemed inevitable. It has been decades since I rode in Texas, when dog-sprinting was just a part of riding in the country.
Now there was no question of sprinting, loaded down with bags and age as I am, so I started thinking strategically. If you’ve ever tried to kick a dog while riding, that doesn’t work. It causes you to wobble badly and the dog sees it coming, avoids the kick, and then you’ve slowed down a lot and he’s got you.
But what if you simply stopped pedaling on the upstroke, slowed, let him get in snapping range, then landed a solid kick to the snout? “Hmmm,” I thought. “That might work.”
So each day I practiced my dog kick, five or six time with each leg. At first it was hard, but it got better and better until I could kick really hard without going off my line at all.
Two days ago I got my first try. Two dogs gave chase, one fell off, and the other kept charging until he was a couple of feet from my right foot. I stopped pedaling with my right foot on the upstroke, the bike slowed, and as he started to snap I kicked him hard on the snout. He hadn’t seen it coming, yelped, and quit chasing.
You can imagine how empowered I felt.
This morning I started in heavy fog. The two-lane highway was incredibly narrow, cars passing within a couple of feet. Off to the left a pair of dogs saw me. “They’ll never cross the highway in front of all these cars,” I thought.
The biggest one immediately sprinted across the highway in front of all those cars. The road was wet and the five cars, all tailgating each other, somehow braked without sliding or crashing. The dog made a beeline for my right leg.
Then, he got spooked by an oncoming semi, skidded, and dashed in front of the braking truck back to his side of the street, missing the front wheel by inches. Needles to say, the collateral damage of any traffic collision would have been me. I held my line and the scene melted away behind me.
At day’s end I approached my campsite. A dog on the right side of the dirt road made a run at me. I kicked him on the nose and learned a lesson: kick as hard as you can; otherwise it just pisses them off, and you only get one kick. He took the kick, backed off, realized it hadn’t hurt, and made a second run, this time snapping the rubber heel of my shoe.
I pedaled on.