On a recent training ride I had to deal with an animal that likes to prey on the cyclist. They sometimes lay in wait until you are on them and then they spring their trap. Other times they like to sneak up on you while you’re enjoying a nice leisurely ride. Other times they try and intimidate you by mounting a full-on charge straight at you hoping you’ll buckle to your fear and be an easy meal. These animals are often found on the rural roads that cyclist sometimes ride on. Also called Redneckus Maximus country. The animal I’m talking about is, of course, the Canis Lupus Bitemus Cyclist. The dog.
Because I’ve been doing most of my riding within the city limits in Jacksonville and Dallas I’ve never had to deal with these pesky critters. My ride this past weekend though was on a rural road with several dogs. I was totally unprepared to deal with it. My lack of preparation, and a comment by one of my readers, made me start thinking about how to deal with the canine while out cycling. Here’s a few things I came up with:
1. Practice your sprinting skills. If you’re like me you probably need a lot of practice in this area anyway. In fact, I have no sprinting skills whatsoever. So any practice I can get is good. This method only works though if the dog in question has a maximum speed less than your sprinting speed, you have a good head start, and/or your sprint endurance is greater than the dogs. From my experience this past weekend this method can work pretty good for the ankle biter version of the canine species; the terrier, schnauzer, chihuahua, etc. You know. Dogs with short little legs. If it is indeed a chihuahua you might try tossing it that bean burrito you have stuffed in your jersey pocket.
2. Give the dog a little shout out. I’m not talking about screaming like a little girl although some of you may feel like doing that. I almost did it last weekend when that huge pit bull (a.k.a. Fast Eddie from American Flyers) charged me. I’m talking about a well-timed shout at the dog using a phrase the attacking dog may hear at home. Mike suggested this method with a shout of, “Get off the couch!” and says he’s used it with good success. Other variations I could think of are, “Get out of the trash!”, “Leave the cat alone!”, or the all-time classic, “Get off my leg!” I wonder if brandishing a rolled up newspaper would have the same effect?
3. Practice your anti-mugger skills. No, I don’t want you throw your wallet at the dog. There are several dog repellent sprays on the market that could easily be carried in a jersey pocket. One of the ones I found is called Halt! Apparently the postal service has been using this stuff since 1966. It’s made of naturally occurring pepper extracts that cause extreme discomfort to the attacking dog. The can is pressurized and accurate up to 10 feet. I believe Nashbar sells a clip so you can mount a can on your handlebars. Just be careful not to spray yourself, or another rider, when sprinting for the town sign.
4. Talk to the dog’s owner. If you are repeatedly attacked by a particular dog you should either stop carrying beef jerky in your pocket or have a talk with the owner. This is much easier said than done especially if the dog in question won’t let you in the yard. You have a right to the road though and shouldn’t have to deal with a nuisance dog just waiting knock you off your bike which could get you sent to the hospital.
I know there are some other things you could do so I welcome your comments and suggestions.