Surreal Moments

10.3.2007 | 8:39 am

One of the cool things about being a cyclist is you get to experience stuff most people never will. Dug’s seen a cross-dresser casually strolling on a lonely mountain road. My sister Kellene told me that during her trip to Telluride last week, she rescued a woman from a brush-covered ravine who had been the victim of a hit-and-run by a car.

And I’ve been hit by birds. Four times, to be exact.

It’s always quite a surprise.

The first time was when I lived in Sammamish, Washington, a couple years ago. I was out on a nice early morning road ride out in the countryside, out past Carnation. One of the things I liked best about riding out there in the farmland was how quiet and peaceful the rides were. Green everywhere. Birds singing. Eagles flying above. It’s easy to get lost in a cycling reverie.

And then: WHAM. My left shoulder suddenly felt like it had been punched. Or like I had been hit with a paintball by someone in a passing car (this has happened before) or with a beer bottle by a passing truck (this has also happened before).

But there were no cars around. I was as alone as possible, with fields of flowers on either side of me (Ever wonder where florists’ flowers come from? Turns out there’s such a thing as florist farms).

I — unlike you, because of course you already know what hit me — was so confused I forgot about the pain (which wasn’t really that bad anyway). And then finally I looked around.

There was a bird — a sparrow I think — flopping in the road.

Questions filled my mind. I was all alone in an open field; why had this bird hit me? Was it sick? Blind? Just really, really stupid? Or was it as zoned out as I was, caught in the zen of flying, and it just didn’t see me? I could imagine that happening.

I turned around and rode back toward it. I knew I wasn’t going to take it home — if it was injured, it would become some animal’s meal. But I could at least end its suffering, I guess, although I wasn’t too excited about that prospect.

Before I got to it, though, it got its wits back and flew off.

I admit to feeling relief.

The Second, Third, and Fourth Hits
The next time I had a close encounter of the third kind with birds, I was mountain biking, just a couple weeks ago. Specifically, I was on my favorite ride in the world — Tibble to Joy to Ridge to Mud to Tibble — and riding one of my favorite parts: the buff, forested downhill section we call “Joy,” because it is impossible to ride that trail without a big smile on your face.

As I turned through one of the hairpins early in the ride, I passed a log on my left, startling three little birds that were either behind or inside the log.

All three of them flew right into me: two hit my chest, one hit my face: Puff puff puff. It was like getting hit by three lightly-tossed Kooshes in rapid succession.

They kept flying, gone so fast I didn’t even have a chance to get a good look at what color they were — though my impression was of blue.

It was maybe the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.

Your Turn
I am willing to bet that every single cyclist has at least one story of an unexpected encounter like this. Something that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Something that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been there right that moment on your bike.

Tell me about it. I’ll give a Twin Six-designed Fat Cyclist T-Shirt to the person with what I consider to be the coolest story.


  1. Comment by AMG in Texas | 10.3.2007 | 8:53 am

    I guess I am the first one today!!! Wonderfull… I was hit by bugs mostly… and even then I wasn’t going too fast (I never do and dont seem to be able).

    Go Team Fatty!!! Go Team Biker Babes!!!

    Best wishes for Susan :-)

  2. Comment by David | 10.3.2007 | 9:08 am

    Pah! Only 4 times?!

    This is a way of life come Spring in Brisbane. Magpies ( love nothing better than swooping over and over and over (did I say over?) again. So while the first swoop might come as a suprise, it’s just an omen for the sustained attack you’re likely to endure for the next 500m. Try keeping a straight line in traffic knowing one of the buggers has made it their mission in life to pick a hole in your skull.

    And they’re territorial, so pity the cyclist who rides past a nest on their daily commute.

    Surely they can’t be thaaat bad, you say.

    May I refer you to the Bicycling Queensland website which (seriously!) includes a convenient Google Maps mashup to track attacks (

    Thankfully, I live in London now and all I have to worry about are the black cabs, double decker busses, oh, and crazy one way streets.

    Come to think about it, Magpies aren’t sounding too bad after all.

  3. Comment by chtrich | 10.3.2007 | 9:16 am

    Once I was mountain biking in the foothills of ‘Y’ mountain in Provo when up ahead I saw two people lying on the ground under a tree. As I got closer and passed them I noticed they weren’t just lying there, but instead where naked on a blanket actively sharing a special moment in nature.
    OK, I guess that was happening regardless of me being there, but that was an unexpected encounter while mountain biking for sure.

  4. Comment by KT | 10.3.2007 | 9:21 am

    I seem to have a problem with squirrels.

    Most of the time, they run out in front of me when I’m driving. But then I got into bikes, and they too switched focus.

    The first time it happened, I was riding with my boyfriend Scott through Champoeg park in Oregon. We were just putting along, enjoying the scenery…. biking through the campground on the way to the trail to Butteville and the Willamette river…. I was minding my own business when Mr Suicidal Squirrel ran out in front of me. I tried to miss him, but every direction I was going, he was darting around to stay in front of me. I didn’t want to hit him; I didn’t have fenders on the mountain bike I was riding, and I’m a little squeamish about that sort of thing. So I fell over, instead. At a dead stop, in the middle of the campground road.

    I think that squirrel stood there and laughed at me.

    Most recently, Mr Suicide Squirrel’s friends have darted across the road at me on my commute both to and from work. They come out of the woods as the road decends down a wicked fast straight stretch (short, though– I can get to about 27mph before it flattens). Even with the slicks on the road bike, and fenders, I don’t want to run them over. Luckily, on the way home, it’s uphill, so they’ve got time to sit there and wait for me.

    Stupid squirrels.

    Other than that, it’s the usual dogs who want to chase something.

  5. Comment by andrew | 10.3.2007 | 9:22 am

    I was riding in a very stiff crosswind, on the frontage road of I-25 in colorado (on the plains, not the mountains)…

    And from a LOOOONG way off, I see this shape bouncing towards me across a field..

    Its a monster tumbleweed, the mother of all tumbleweeds, and it’s on a perfect intercept trajectory…

    I had a good 20 seconds to think, “That’s not going to hit me, that can’t hit me, it would just be too weird if that hit me…”

    I slowed up a bit, so the tumbleweed would pass in front, it got closer and closer, it was HUGE, almost shoulder high… (to quote Ben Kenobi “that’s no moon, its a space station!”)

    At the last second, it hit the drainage ditch beside the road, popping up into the air on slightly different trajectory, and it smashed into me dead on, in the shoulders and head.

    Tumbleweeds are VERY pricky… and it send seeds down my jersey and into my hair… I did not crash, but oooouucchh…

    I guess they say that when a bullet has your name on it….. there is nothing to be done.. beware, that applies to tumbleweeds as well!!

    (and its almost tumbleweed season again too…)

  6. Comment by Anonymous | 10.3.2007 | 9:24 am

    Wow, this is just going to turn into stories about sex isn’t it?

    My favorite was riding the cx bike through the trails of Memphis’s urban Overton Park. I came around a bend only to find the local legless, rastafari bum out of his wheelchair giving some other indigent fellow a bj. Needless to say, I just put my head down and pedaled through the trail as best I could.

  7. Comment by Derek | 10.3.2007 | 9:33 am

    We were naking our way down a well-traveled bike path as part of a warm up to what was supposed to be 65 mile day. There were several small groups of us scattered along the trail and I was riding with 5 other guys – one guy out front, and the rest of us riding side by side behind him. It was a crisp fall morning. A great day for a ride.

    I saw a squirrel on the left side of the road, and much like I do when I see cars considering something dumb, I thought, “Don’t even think about it.” But it was too late – he darted across the path. The rider in front braked hard as we all did. The rider in front when down hard, and the rider behind him went down as well. The other riders in our pack managed to stay upright.

    Unfortunately for the squirrel, he would not live very long to regret his decision. He was caught int the spokes of the front wheel of the rider in front, which caused his hard fall. He was alive, but wasn’t moving well at all and was pretty well beat up. A phone call was made to the riders wife who brought a box and took the squirrel to the vet. The vet determined the squirrel had massive internal injuries and would not make it.

    It put quite the damper on the ride. The first guy who went down was too hurt and shaken up to continue. I rode out about 25 miles before realizing my heart wasn’t in it anymore and put-putted home for a total of 40 on the day. I’m still skiddish anytime I see a chipmunk or squirrel at the edge of the road or path.

  8. Comment by John | 10.3.2007 | 9:41 am

    I had an encounter of similar ilk this summer. I had cycled up Loch Frisa (island of Mull, here in Scotland) looking at White-tail sea eagles. As I crested a hill on the mountain bike trail I saw an owl sitting a few feet away on a fence post. They’re so unusual to see in daytime and I was really keen to stop and have a look, but as I touched the brakes the disc squealed which caused the owl to take fright and fly off.

    It was great to see the owl, and I was watching him fly away off to my left off the trail, when after a few seconds I heard a gentle snort behind me – turning round I found myself a few paces away from a stag (male red deer). He was an impressive (and mildly worrying) sight, and we stood eyeing each other for quite some time. He eventually decided that I looked no threat, turned his back on me and wandered away.

    All in all it was a superb run – saw golden eagles, white-tail sea eagles, buzzards, an owl, otters etc, but lucking into seeing the stag so close was great – the joys of mountain biking!

  9. Comment by Dawnawanna | 10.3.2007 | 9:43 am

    I was riding along on a trail next to the river when a snake decided to cross the path. I managed to miss him with my front wheel, but then I guess he freaked out and tried to bite my foot. Unfortunately for the poor snake, that resulted in him getting squished under my back wheel.

    I never thought I’d say this about a snake, but I felt bad for the poor guy.

  10. Comment by LanterneRouge | 10.3.2007 | 9:48 am

    It was a downhill section with a tailwind and I was going about 25 mph. The path was mostly shaded with spots of sun breaking through giving me a strobe effect as I passed through the shafts of light. The leaves were turning and beginning to fall. It was a perfect day. Out of a patch shade I saw an odd s – shaped object two, maybe three feet long. But it wasn’t s – shaped, it had too many curves and the curves were moving around. Too late I realized it was a snake. Going too fast to swerve safely and reacting too late to bunny hop, I gripped the handlebars tightly, braced for a possible crash and held my breath. Somehow the snakes’ head got caught up in the front spokes and it was propelled upward against my left arm and chest. I braked hard and was nearly in a panic. Did I mention that I have a mortal fear of snakes? No? Perhaps that info will give you an inkling of my state of mind at the time.

    Skidding to a halt I somehow dismounted and began jumping around and spinning and twisting and examining every part of my body to get the snake off of me. It wasn’t on me. An observer might have thought I was being consumed by invisible flames or that I was a typical recumbent owner. Fortunately, there were no witnesses to my temporary insanity.

    After a few moments I regained my composure. Returning to my bike I saw the snake laying on the middle of the path several yards back. It wasn’t moving. There was some blood on my jersey and on the fork and spokes so I hoped it was dead. Actually, I hoped it had been decapitated, but I lacked the courage to go back and take a look.

    At the next rest area I came across, I removed my jersey as carefully as possible and put it in the trash. I didn’t ride that trail again for six months.

  11. Comment by Pammap | 10.3.2007 | 9:57 am

    My husband and I were on the road, riding in a wooded area; I was in the front going about 25 mph, we were cruisin down a little hill.

    A baby deer, not even as tall as my handle bars, ran in front of me. He had no traction on the pavement and sort of ran in place in front of me. I locked up my brakes, the back-end of my bike started to skid out and I continued moving towards him. I was screeming my husband’s name the whole time as if he could do something. Somehow, I didn’t hit him and didn’t crash and he finally found his footing and scampered off. I’m sure the whole thing took seconds but it felt as if we were frozen in time moving in slow motion.

    It freaked me out. Now when I ride through there I “announce” to the deer that I’m coming. It embarasses my children so there’s that added perk :)

  12. Comment by Pammap | 10.3.2007 | 9:59 am

    silly me…I wasn’t “screeming” I was “screaming”…sorry

  13. Comment by Clydesdale8 | 10.3.2007 | 10:10 am

    Every Saturday group ride starts on our local rail-trail. It passes through some older neighborhoods, wooded lots, small forested areas, etc. As we’ve ridden we been chased by dogs, seen bunnies, various snakes (poisonous & non-poisonous). Some of the homeowners keep livestock so we frequently dodge chickens, turkeys, flocks of guinea hens (stupidest ground fowl known to man), goats and a peacock who’s tail will cover the entire trail. We’ve also had to break hard for deer once or twice. For me the most interesting encounter was being chased by an emu that escaped from someone’s yard/farm. A 6 foot tall bird keeping pace with you at 25+ mph definitley gets your attention.

  14. Comment by Joshua Duggan | 10.3.2007 | 10:13 am

    I rode from Astoria, OR to Boston in 2003 with 6 other guys. McKenzie Pass is the most scenic route through the Oregon mountains between Eugene and Sisters and it’s on the TransAmerica bicycle route.

    We were unable to find out definitively from the forest service whether McKenzie Pass would be ridable or still snowed in for the season. We decided to give it a go. Halfway up the 22 mile ascent we stopped at the barrier which closed the road to cars and ate lunch. Then a bizarre thing happened. One of my friends suggested we ride the rest of the way to the summit naked!

    Awesome. There would be no cars to bother us, we could be free of the confinement of our spandex for 11 miles of climbing through the beautiful mountains! Two of our group weren’t comfortable with the idea, so they went ahead. The rest of us disrobed and put our chamois pads on our seats and rode naked up the mountain.

    It went great, and the looks on the faces of the highway workers who were clearing trees from the road as we rode around their truck was fantastic! I also had a flat tire that I quickly patched. If I hadn’t been on a bicycle, I never would have gotten the experience of changing a flat while naked in the middle of a lava field at 7,000 ft.

    After we reached the peak, we took photos at the Dee Wright Observatory with the Three Sisters in the background. About 5 minutes after we put our clothes on, two cyclists, one a woman, rode up from the other side of the mountain. Talk about good timing.

    This climb was definitely one of the top five highlights of the trip.

  15. Comment by Big Boned | 10.3.2007 | 10:13 am

    Ok, got two for you. I know that’s cheating, but I’ve never won a contest in my life, so I don’t have to play by the rules.
    I was living in Colorado Springs. It was winter. I was riding home one night using a gravel bike path by the river. I had an HID light and they had just come out, not many of them on the street yet. Very bright. Dark night. I was probably doing about 20mph. Suddenly from the side of the trail, much yelling, flailing and cursing. I thought someone was getting eaten by a bear or something, so I slowed to a crawl to see if they needed help. This only increased the “victim’s” terror. It was a homeless person and when he realized I was only a bicyclist, he meekly explained “I thought you were a train and there ain’t supposed to be trains here…”
    Second one (hey if you don’t want to read another one, scroll down)…I was out doing adventure race training around midnight towing a friend at about 25 mph on the C&O canal. She was tied off to be about 15 inches off my back wheel. A large deer came up over the canal bank just in front of us, we both locked up our brakes simultaneously, missed the deer, didn’t crash, and still wonder how.

  16. Comment by barry1021 | 10.3.2007 | 10:16 am

    Two years ago, hot windless summer day, riding in my favorite place, Boxford MA. Canopy of trees providing relief from the sun, dappled sunlight finding its way through the branches as I pound down newly paved roads. No cars, no sound, only the whistling of the wind.

    All of a sudden, BAM!! on my helmet, I manage to keep the bike upright and look up see two very large talons disappearing back into the shade. I was an unsuccessful lunch target for a disappointed hawk….


  17. Comment by Bob | 10.3.2007 | 10:16 am

    I got hit by a deer. The end.

  18. Comment by Susan (another one) | 10.3.2007 | 10:22 am

    Day of the Butterflies

    This past August I was out on a Saturday morning ride alone, along one of my favorite routes. I realized I was periodically passing through increasing larger flocks (?) of butterflies. There seemed to be two different kinds: orange ones and blue ones.

    The blue ones seemed particularly reckless. They seemed to fly right at me, but then passed right over. No doubt due to my extreme aero-ness. But inevitably, one did not pass over and was trapped against my chest. I looked down at him or her. Very pretty despite obvious signs of butterfly panic. I dropped one of my shoulders back and s/he flew out.

    A short time later, another hit my chest. But this one hit right about the unzipped zipper of my jersey and down s/he went. A blue butterfly flitting around in your jersey actually feels rather, um, pleasant. Trying to get a blue butterfly out of your jersey while riding down the road looks rather silly.

  19. Comment by Boz | 10.3.2007 | 10:22 am

    A couple of months ago, I was ridng the back ridge behind our campground, which is a long, downhill grade on a mixed surface, rutted road/trail. After the climb up, and the nice accelleration down, a deer suddenly appeared on my right, keeping pace along side me. Cool, I thought, a riding companion! I got out of saddle, stood on a big gear and pulled hard. The deer stayed right along side, so I yelled at it, as deer hooves are sharp and could do damage if you were to get tanged up with them. He cut up the bank and into the brush, but in a few seconds, he was back. He loped along to the bottom of the hill, where I took the left and he kept going straight. Maybe he just wanted a bite of my cliff bar.
    A few days later, I came accross the 3 bears on the state trail, but that’s another story.

  20. Comment by Ian | 10.3.2007 | 10:25 am

    8 of us in a paceline. Downhill through a really fun sweeping corner at about 60 kph (40 mph) Suddenly a deer runs out of the woods and jumps through/ over the pace line just brushing the helmet of the guy in front of me with it’s back legs. We all stayed upright and the front 2 guys didn’t even see the deer. One of the scariest almost disasters I have ever had on a bike. Once we all stopped freaking out it is also one of the coolest things ever.

  21. Comment by Harp | 10.3.2007 | 10:26 am

    You asked for a story but I have two pretty good ones that have happened to me this year in my first year of mountain biking. Both of these encounters happened to me on the single track in Wilderness Park in Lincoln NE. This park is close to my house and the only really offroad track in the area. The name of the park serves it well.

    The first encounter was actually on my first ever ride in the park. I was with a friend and we were riding and saw a female Wild Turkey run in front of us on the trail followed by a very large male Turkey so we stopped to check it out I had never seen a Wild Turkey that up close before and it was just huge. All of the sudden it stepped on to the track turned and looked at us and charged. I told my friend who was in front of me to get movin and we took off. It was kind of funny to look back and see this akward looking Turkey running down the track behind us. And I’m sure we looked really cool running away from that same akward looking Turkey.

    The next was when I was on a late ride and it was getting close to dusk and I was on my heading out of the park to head home. I was about a half mile away from the trail head and saw a deer jump out of the brush in front of me but I didn’t think anything of it it had moved off the track and I just kept on going without slowing down. I should have known better because right as I got about to the spot where it had jumped out I heard something and looked over and saw the head of the deer about to hit me in the shoulder. I don’t know how we didn’t collide. I was so close that if I had put my hand out I could have petted it on the head. I slammed on my brakes and came skidding to a stop ( and fell over, I had just gotten my clippless peddles and shoes and wasn’t good at getting out of them that fast) and just breathed for a second and looked over and both of the deer were just standing there looking at me (on the ground) like they were thinking the same thing like “how did we not hit each other” . Then as I stood up they both ran off back into the brush. I see deer all the time in the park and wonder if any of them is the one that almost hit me.

  22. Comment by sorelegs | 10.3.2007 | 10:33 am

    Once a couple of years ago I spent a windy, cool fall morning with my kids who were then 3 and 5. We were trying really hard to catch one of the many falling oak leaves in our yard. After about a half hour of jumping around the yard like lunatics we decided it was impossible to catch one. It was just too windy.

    Later that same afternoon, I went for my local road ride. I was cruising along on a country road into the same headwind, lost in the reverie of the ride when I noticed a leaf falling from an oak tree. As I approached the leaf seemed like it was going to come very close. As I rolled on still pedaling at the same speed, I lifted my left hand off of the bar, turned it palm up and grabbed hold of the leaf as it landed in my hand.

  23. Comment by Rider34 | 10.3.2007 | 10:42 am

    Any of you that have vacationed in Florida in May or October should be familiar with “Love Bugs”. They are a menace. Needless to say, they seem to swarm together in an orgy like group to mate and be stuck together forever more.

    One evening this May I was riding on the roads of the Suncoast just after sunset. I went around a corner and rode through one of these swarms. I am not sure if it was because of my speed or because of my sweaty skin, but when I got home and walked in the front door I was covered. From head to toe I looked like I had the worst case of black chicken pox ever, much to the delight of my 8 year old daughter. Thank god I wasn’t smiling! ;)

  24. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.3.2007 | 11:03 am

    Did I ever tell you how my brilliant BMX career got cut short?

    Many years ago I was riding my bike and turning left onto a side-street, and because I was going way too fast, I really cut across the on-coming lane of the side street. A small truck was approaching the intersection and had to slam on their brakes to keep from whacking me.

    The driver of the truck leaned out his window and offered a few words of advice. I locked up the rear wheel, spun around and offered a witty rejoinder. He got out of his truck. I got off my bike. He was quite fat, and I used that physical characteristic, combined with his age and questionable parentage as the core of a fairly lengthy dissertation, which was spoken at a high volume while belly-to-chest with the guy. He responded in kind.

    At the time, the local BMX track was adding a mt. bike class to their race series, which I signed up to do. At the first race (which I won because I was the only one to jump the double), I met the BMX track owner and since I worked at the biggest local bike shop, we discussed a possible sponsorship/promotion arrangement. We arranged a meeting with him, the bike shop owner, and me the next week. The whole time, I had a sense that I knew him from somewhere; he seemed familiar. . .

    As soon as he walked in the door for the meeting I recognized him as the driver of the truck, and to my horror, I could see a dawning of understanding in his eyes too. We both stood there shocked and dumbfounded; my head swam with that surreal feeling you get when the impossible is happening.

    To our credit, and as a further sign of our maturity, we both pretended that we didn’t recognize each other, and made up excuses as to why the meeting had to be cancelled that instant.

    I never went to the BMX track again, hence the demise of an incredibly promising BMX career, despite the fact that I had never failed to win a BMX race.

  25. Comment by Adam D | 10.3.2007 | 11:07 am

    I commute to work in Chicago. I take the lake front trail daily and I only have an 11 mile commute one way. I experience many a zen sunrise on my morning commute, which makes it all worth it. After work, is where I had my true experience with nature.

    I barreled east down Monroe St and left the skyscrapers, cabs, and suits of the city behind me. I entered the lake front trail by Burnham Habor and started to hammer my way home. Now, as usual, there were Canadian Geese everywhere. Most people think they are “pretty” and “cool”, but I consider them the scourge of Chicagoland. I noticed some geese walking toward the trail. I thought nothing of it. The next couple seconds go something like this:

    I love Chicago in the spring…hmm….what is this? Get outta my way goose. Seriously, lil guy. Come on. This could be bad. I hate you, but I don’t want to hurt you. I am pacifist, man! “Hey. Yo. Move.”, I scream. I have been already feathering my brakes. I try to manevuer around him, but he takes some quick studder step right in my path. It was too late…I hit that goose square on. I heard a “squawk” and thought I was going down. I felt him hit my downtube, then shoot back out my wheel. I turned around and that goose was standing in the trail as if to say “That all you got?”. He shook his tail feathers and went on with his business.

  26. Comment by egon | 10.3.2007 | 11:12 am

    Riding to my apt from finals while at the U of Delaware, a bee got caught between by prescription glasses and my eye. I ended up swapping my glasses away trying to get rid of the bee. When I got the bike stopped, I went back to look for the glasses and just as I saw them, CRUNCH!! they got run over by a car. I wore my contacts for 4 days straight.

  27. Comment by Blake | 10.3.2007 | 11:23 am

    Not nearly weird enough to win, but I’ll share a couple. I ride the Samammish trail from Woodinville to Marymoor on my commute 4-5 days/wk, and consequently I see a lot of wildlife that most people pass by. After 4 years, I’m almost jaded enough to this that I don’t notice when the salmon are spawning in the Sammamish slough. Still, they make a pretty good splash most of the time, so it’s difficult not to pay *any* attention.

    There are a couple of great seasonal phenomenon, aside from the salmon. There are a few weeks in spring and fall of “snail mornings,” when it’s damp out and the right temperature, and you have to keep a very sharp eye out to avoid having tons of shell and other less savory snail parts stuck to your tires. I’d never seen a snail in the northwest until I started riding the trail daily. In the summer, I like to take my kids out and ride just at dusk, because the poplars on the side of the trail at various intervals are full of bats. They come out in force around that time, and dive bomb your bike because the bugs like to hang around your headlight.

    The only one that’s made me really stop and go “whoa!” lately was about a month ago, when a redtail hawk that I hadn’t even seen took off from the gravel *right beside me* as I rode by, with some type of local rodent in tow, then perched on a tree branch about 25 yards away and proceeded to munch away at it.

  28. Comment by Flying Penguin | 10.3.2007 | 11:31 am

    I was once stationed with the Army in central nowhere Georgia where I thought I was going to be able to continue my old roadie ways. After a number of “day” rides (you can hear the banjos I swear!) and having d-cell batteries thrown at me from passing uh…veeHICKles. I decided that to be able to ride in Georgia I would need to ride at night, facing traffic while dressed in black so I would not be seen. The first time I ever did that type of ride was about the most surreal I have ever had and never rode in Georgia again. It must be different now, one can only hope.

  29. Comment by DOM | 10.3.2007 | 11:36 am

    During the summers when I was in college, I would commute to my summer job by bike, not because I had become an avid cyclist, I was too broke to have a car. One day I was cruising down a longish hill that ended at the river. As I approached the bottom of the hill, a raccoon appeared from a sewer grate. The combination of speed and suprise made him appear to roughly the size of a great dane. In retrospect, I realize he was a big raccoon, just not that big. Again not being an avid cyclist, I had ham fisted bike handling skills and didn’t know how to avoid him. (Today I would at least try to bunny, no, coon hop him.) He did that back and forth “betcha can’t guess which way I’m going” dance in front of me. He was right. I hit his hind quarter and promptly landed on my hind quarter. He scampered off into the brush along the river, I wobbled the couple of miles home and spent the evening learning how to true a wheel.

  30. Comment by LanterneRouge | 10.3.2007 | 11:38 am

    Adam D, I’m also from Chicago and when I see those geese I always yell “AFLAC!” at them in my best Gilbert Gottfried voice.

    Works every time.

  31. Comment by Mike Roadie | 10.3.2007 | 11:47 am

    I live in a very wet and quiet western area of South Florida. We get rather large birds (egrets, herons, hawks) swooping around all the time. I have never been attacked by one…..yet. What is unnerving are the sunbasking alligators on the roadsides and by canals. Last year a female jogger was attacked and killed!! They look very slow, but knowing that they can cover a short distance VERY quickly makes you feel as if there is no safe distance you can steer away.

    The strangest thing I have ran over was an Armadillo. Hard as a rock, it bent my front rim and almost made me go down! Had to walk to a bike shop to replace the rim. Good thing there were no alligators around!!!


    This is my final week collecting for the Livestrong Challenge. Thanks to so many of you who have helped out by donating in Susan’s and your own loved one’s names!!! For the remaining others who would still like to support our friends and family through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the link is: HTTP://AUSTIN07.LIVESTRONG.ORG/MLEVIN

    Clydesteve….we still need your email address for the stories from Portland!

  32. Comment by Rick S. | 10.3.2007 | 11:58 am

    Don’t make me tell my mountain goat story again.

  33. Comment by Dave | 10.3.2007 | 12:05 pm

    Some of the topics you write about bring up lots of stories I have, some I haven’t thought about in a long time. I have two notable animal encounters and they both involve skunks and have about a dozen more (bears, birds (yesterday), jack rabbits, deer, squirrels, field mice, rattlesnakes…I may start my own blog.

    I had just gotten my new mtn. bike built up and was cruising down this trail and around a corner I see a skunk 3 feet off the side of the trail! In about a split second I had two thoughts: if I stop I’ll stop right next to it; if I go really fast maybe he won’t spray me. As I passed I saw him flip his tail towards me but couldn’t tell if he sprayed me. Then the smell hit and I knew I might be in trouble. As I rode I could still smell skunk, it wouldn’t leave me no matter how fast I rode. I stopped and couldn’t smell anything on my leg or shoe, but my bike had a very distictive smell to it. Mr. Skunk managed to spray the seat and chainstays and the rear tire, but missed me by inches, or a fraction of inches. I put the bike in the car and immediately stunk the car up. I was on my way to work so I pulled the bike out and locked it up at the bike rack to “air out”. By lunchtime the frame stopped smelling but there was a spot on the rear tire that smelled. The odd thing was that started a skunk sighting for me that lasted about 18 months. During that time I saw 9 skunks. With one trying that “flip my tail around” move on me again while commuting to work (he wasn’t successful). My friends started calling me a skunk magnet and stopped wanting to ride with me.

    One more skunk story. This was freaky. I live in Pasco, Wa. and was riding over the I-82 bridge across the Columbia River to go into Richland. The bike path is about six feet wide with a concrete barrier on both sides. The sun had barely come up, very much dawn and I see a black shape on the side of the path. As I get near I realize it’s a skunk and it’s hissing at me like a scalded cat! I had nowhere to go, once again stopping would put me right next to it so I sped on by. I realized after I passed it was not looking too healthy. I wondered if it got hit on the interstate and was thrown over the rail? That didn’t make sense because the rail is about 6 feet high. I could never figure out why he decided to die 1/4 of the way across the river on a bike path, except of course he may have had the foresight to give me a chance to win me a fat cyclist t-shirt.

  34. Comment by Pedalmaniac | 10.3.2007 | 12:16 pm

    This is an excerpt from my blog on my animal attack. For the whole story see

    One day on a mountain bike ride in the interior of British Columbia I was enjoying a beautiful vista, minding my own business, when I was engaged from behind. At first it was an interesting interaction, I was being open and congenial. Then when it was time for me to be on my way things became a bit more tense. As I rode away I realised that I wasn’t going alone.

    And then it happened. I was attacked while riding away. Now at first I thought it was a joke and then as I tried to get away from my attacker I realised that it wasn’t. Now I’m quite a long way from the nearest help. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no one in earshot to hear my cries for help, and I was being attacked.

    With the first attacked I was so shocked that I fell off my bike. As I got back on to flee the attacks continued. I realised that I needed to get my bike between the bugger and me. The first few pecks were kind of amusing, but then I remembered my situation — a long way from help. But now I was off my bike, slowly retreating the way I had come. But the attacks continued. It was all I could do to keep my bike between me and the ensuing onslaught. I was finally drawn in and began defending myself by hitting back — on each attack I would swing my rear wheel into my attacker. By this time I had retreated about 200 m but still the attacks continued, I began to get really scared, I felt like the prey in some crazy Deliverance movie. Finally the slope turned in my favour. I was able to turn and quickly jump on my bike and ride away. I looked over my shoulder a couple of times to make sure that in fact I had escaped. Sure enough that grouse had had enough of me.

    Yes it was a grouse!

    The first attack knocked me off my bike — hard to believe I know, but he ran under my front wheel, I couldn’t run him over. Then he began to peck me over and over and over. The funny part is that I actually got scared. I realised that this is just a small animal, what would happen if I came face to face with a bear or a cougar or a cow?

  35. Comment by Glenn | 10.3.2007 | 12:36 pm

    Riding side by side
    Chris never saw the squirrel
    Face Plant Squirrel lives

  36. Comment by Lins - Aust | 10.3.2007 | 12:36 pm

    FC – I can relate to the divebombing bird story. It’s magpie nesting season here so cyclists and walkers get dive bombed and often hit in the head. A couple of years ago I was shooting down a short steep hill, got hit in the helmet and the magpie somehow got caught in my helmet strap. Such was the importance of maintaining composure at speed on bitumen that I didn’t flinch. It eventually flapped its way free.

    My most surreal moment was on a long straight dirt road lined by trees (eucaplyptus) with paddocks behind. I was coasting down here at about 35km/h and was joined by a bird of prey (Swamp Harrier – wingspan 1.2m) which glided beside me at my head level for about 400m. It was so close that if I had reached out I could have touched its wing. I didn’t alter my path and neither did it until the bend in the road. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

  37. Comment by Shane | 10.3.2007 | 12:39 pm

    I was out for a ride a couple of years ago and I come across a pack of wild turkeys. They were on both sides of the road. There were probably 20-30 turkeys. I had never seen a turkey in the wild, let alone this many. I was thinking that this was pretty cool until I got close enough to ride between the two packs. As I approached I slowed down so I would not spook and accidentally hit them. This didn’t work. Most of them started chasing after me and one flew, if you can call it that, and hit me in my helmet. By this time I was surrounded by a buch of crazed turkeys and could not pedal anywhere. Somehow I managed to slip out of the bunch and then did not hesitate to sprint out of there. I knew I was safe when the I could no longer hear the gobbles. I’m just glad this didn’t turn into an idea for a really really bad horror flick.

  38. Comment by mark | 10.3.2007 | 12:39 pm

    My best story happened hiking, not biking. I was with my daughter and wife in Yosemite NP hiking to half dome. On the way down, my wife got ahead as I carried our 4 year old daughter in the backpack. While walking down the trail, we heard something in the woods. I looked over and saw a good sized bear just off the trail. I stopped for a while hoping it would walk away but it kept walking near the trail. We didn’t have a lot of daylight left, so I kept walking, the bear in sight most of time. It disappeared for a while only to reappear moments later right in front of me. It then got on top of a fallen tree about 30 feet away and just stood there, staring at us. So I did what anyone in their right mind would do, I picked up a big stick in one hand and my video camera in the other. I filmed the bear as it walked the length of the log in front of me and then eventually walked off into the woods not to be seen again.

    The other people who witnessed this happen were all getting ready to run if it came to that, but I knew there was no way I’d outrun it with my daughter on my back (or unladen for that matter), and with black bears the best thing to do is be aggressive and try to fight them off anyway. I still have the video somewhere–maybe I’ll post it to Youtube one of these days.

    Never had anything quite that interesting happen on the bike.

  39. Comment by roadrash | 10.3.2007 | 1:05 pm

    FC – Being a long time rider in my mid forties, I’ve experienced many unexpected encounters in the saddle. Some bad: Stinging wasps, snakes, and a flock of canadian geese. Some good: navajo good samaritans and slow moving uphill garbage trucks. The most memorable was a moose. My bike was rigged for camping. I was flying down the back side of a 12% grade in the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia. I rounded a bend doing at least 40mph when I saw a moose square in the middle of the narrow two-lane road. It pretty much took up the entire width of the road. I had a split second decision to make. Left or right? I veered to the left. The moose leaned the opposite direction. I passed that moose in a split second but could still smell it as I flew past. I hate to think what would have happened if I guessed wrong. The moose would be fine. I would have looked like the coyote in a road-runner cartoon.

  40. Comment by Bent022 | 10.3.2007 | 1:12 pm

    Since there seems to be plenty of snake stories I will skip that one.
    Last weekend I rode my first century ride and I was wearing my pink “WIN” jersey. As I was climbing a small hill I actually looked up the road, something I avoid if I want to make it to the top and I noticed a rider coming down the other side of the street and it looked as though he was wearing a pink “WIN” jersey also. I have yet to see anyone else wearing one so I kept watching as he flew down the hill. I was so surprised to see someone else in a “WIN” jersey that when he was about even with me on the other side and I could actually see yes indeed he was wearing a pink “WIN” jersey I pointed at him and said, “Hey”. Like he could have heard me, but he did see me. At first I felt kind of stupid then I realized I was riding a recumbent so I automatically had a free pass to look stupid, since it is redundant. I am sure the other rider turned to his riding buddy and said something along the lines of, “Great I am wearing the same jersey as a fat broad on a recumbent”.

  41. Comment by aussie kev | 10.3.2007 | 1:29 pm

    I don’t now if its an Australian thing but Magpies !!! , this time of year whilst nesting they swoop and hit you on the back of your head/helmet, hard enough to draw blood, and not just once untill you are out of their “nesting” area.
    i had finished my ride on sunday and called in at the beach (i am a surf lifesaver) to say hello to the morning patrol. i left the beach and was riding up one of our steepest hills when “BANG – BANG” two hits, two different birds.
    so there i am riding up the hill one handed facing backwards trying to ward off two very aggressive birds (and doing a mighty fine job i may say).
    i near the top of the hill and see that the birds have finally stopped and are sitting on a power pole, the smile returns to my face, i turn around , put both hand son the handles bars when “whack” a magpie comes from the front – YES from the front and swoops right into my face. I do what any Aussie Male would – I screamed like a big girl and tried to karate chop it to death. This is where it gets embarrasing, it was a butterfly. to make it more embarrassing this happened on a corner where we have a coffee shop and there where lots of witnesses !!!!!!!.

  42. Comment by Bruce | 10.3.2007 | 1:38 pm

    Maybe a few too many years to count ago, while doing sprints on an Air Force base in Biloxi on an inactive flight line we would take a lap between sprint efforts. The block was lined with trees and contained a military parade ground that was hardly ever inhabited except when a VIP died or retired. On one of these cool down laps the four of us noticed an obviously under the influence squirrel darting out at us, while throwing itself into the spokes of Chris a fellow rider it went around with his wheel until if reached his fork, then came the emergency brake effect, looking back over my right shoulder it became a slow motion piece out of a comedy/horror movie. Chris never let go of the handle bars using his chin as a go-between his brain and the road. Glenn then felt sorry for the squirrel and went to check on him in the spokes of Chris’ wheel, after moving the bike the still obviously intoxicated squirrel made a bee line for the nearest tree to nurse his hang-over and tell a great story to his drinking buddies. The ensuing bike ride to the E.R. was comical, but not as funny as when finding Chris in the E.R. he was doing fine until I volunteered a mirror, at which time he saw his chin for the first time and was in urgent need of high flow oxygen, I am not sure where Chris is today but I’m sure the scar on his chin is still there.

  43. Comment by cyclechic | 10.3.2007 | 1:45 pm

    Recently Lake Tahoe California had a large Wildfire which caused all the bears to come down the hill and wreak havoc in the area. I was enjoying a beautiful 75 mile ride around the lake when I suddenly saw a bear crossing the road. Unfortunately, I was flying down hill at a decent clip of 35 MPH and really had no way of stopping. Screaming at the top of my lungs I tried to scare the bear into running out of the way…no…that’s a lie I was screaming because it was a freaking bear!!! Regardless of the reason for my screaming, the bear did seem to hear me and run away just as I was passing him. I missed hitting that bear by maybe a foot.

    My friend, who was riding a ways behind me, said that she does not know how I didn’t become one with that bear. I was just so close. Lets just say I had to pull over for about 15 minutes before I stopped shaking enough to ride on.

    Another time, a kamikaze squirrel dashed in front of my bike as I was descending down a hill. I managed to not only hit it with my front tire but my back tire as well. I still don’t understand how or why the physics of that worked. Poor little guy…he never had a chance.

  44. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 10.3.2007 | 1:47 pm

    I got a bug in my mouth last night. Have you ever gagged trying to hack up a bug in the middle of a 40mph run off the back of the motorbike?

    Does it count if you get nailed by a magpie? Because it’s spring here and there is a magpie on 3 of my 5 most favourite and frequent training routes.

    Also, I got hit by another bird yesterday too. But I deserved it. It was at the pub and she was angry.

    Botched –
    the politics of the sport cuts short another promising career.

  45. Comment by Glenn | 10.3.2007 | 1:49 pm

    Hey Bruce,
    That’s the story behind my Haiku! That’s so funny. I was just telling that story to one of my current riding buddies.

  46. Comment by Rob | 10.3.2007 | 1:49 pm

    One of the best places to road ride around here is on a public-access road that’s on military property. There is very little traffic, and there have been times when I have seen more cyclists than cars. I have two stories from this road:

    1. I was on my way back (20 miles into a 32 mile out-and-back) and feeling pretty tired, when I look up and saw a vulture circling above me. I yelled at him to say that I wasn’t going to become his next meal. He still circles above for the next 2 miles before finally moving on.

    2. Another time I was riding in the same area, and I took a detour to see what was down a different road. I only made it a little ways before the road came to a dead end, and sitting there is an old, rusty WW2-era tank.

  47. Comment by Dino | 10.3.2007 | 1:50 pm

    When I was a young teenager I convinced my dad to let me take my mtb (an old fully rigid Bridgestone) on our trip to Pennsylvania. When we got out there he took me to one of the local riding spots and off I went into the woods. I passed many a bush without a thought untill I heard one rustling right after I passed it. Followed by a loud WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH like a hellicopter taking off behind me. My only thougt was “Shoot, I am going to get eaten” I jumped off the bike and ran for about 15 yards. I turned around to see that a wild turkey had tried to tak off right behind me. Those guys are loud.

    Was driving (sorry) out to the Pawnee Grasslands in Norther Colorado with a friend (from out of state) to go ride around in the big ditch thats out there. On the way out a large antelope gets out into the middle of the dirt road and starts running in front of my vehicle. My startled friend yells, “Dude, Its a Gazelle!” (sorry man Gazelles are from africa). I wanted to see how fast he was going so I pulled up beside the antelope at 45 mph.

  48. Comment by Eric | 10.3.2007 | 1:53 pm

    It’s funny… the night-riding season for me starts tonight and my bird story is also a night riding story. There is this fairly flat trail that is perfect for working on cornering technique because it’s ultra-twisty.

    At about 2/3 through, the trail banks up and around a dead tree. You have to be ready for it, and get a little speed up to get up the embankment, where you nearly stop and point your bike down the other side. I was night riding alone last year and in the zone (you know the place), and when I was getting to this spot, I was getting focused on pumping the cranks at just the right time to get up some speed. I was just next to the dead tree when, whooooosh, a very large owl (I’m assuming a Great Horned, but not positive) flew right past my face.

    I’ll tell you what, when you get focused in like that and something startles you, it takes a good hour for the adrenaline to wash out.

    Good memories, thanks for bringing it back to me :) Peace.

  49. Comment by Eric | 10.3.2007 | 1:54 pm

    It’s funny… the night-riding season for me starts tonight and my bird story is also a night riding story. There is this fairly flat trail that is perfect for working on cornering technique because it’s ultra-twisty.

    At about 2/3 through, the trail banks up and around a dead tree. You have to be ready for it, and get a little speed up to get up the embankment, where you nearly stop and point your bike down the other side. I was night riding alone last year and in the zone (you know the place), and when I was getting to this spot, I was getting focused on pumping the cranks at just the right time to get up some speed. I was just next to the dead tree when, whooooosh, a very large owl (I’m assuming a Great Horned, but not positive) flew right past my face. He was in that dead tree and apparently not couonting on someone flying through the woods that night, straight at him (or her).

    I’ll tell you what, when you get focused in like that and something startles you, it takes a good hour for the adrenaline to wash out.

    Good memories, thanks for bringing it back to me :) Peace.

  50. Comment by born4felt | 10.3.2007 | 1:56 pm

    To pick up one some common themes:

    1. I have disturbed a couple making sweet love on a bluff overlooking Bull Creek in Austin by wiping out several feet from them.

    2. I have run over a dusky pigmy rattlesnake on a rails-to-trails in Jacksonville Florida.

    3. Also, in Austin, a wild pig (or javelina?) decided to chase me downhill for no apparent reason. I never stopped to ask him why.

  51. Comment by | 10.3.2007 | 2:06 pm

    I can’t say Ive hit anything, except a low branch. But I have almost hit 3 chipmunks, a snake, a turtle, and a deer (all different times). I also had a deer stare me down once.

  52. Comment by gian | 10.3.2007 | 2:22 pm

    It was my first season with a mountain bike and I was loving it. Fall was setting in, which in San Antonio means wonderful 75-80 degree weather. I was riding a single track fest at Mcallister park. All alone bombing along a particular trail. None of the trails there have a name, or if they did I was ignorant to them. As I rounded a blind, banked turn around a stump I startled a red tailed hawk from its perch. It flew off down the trail but the trail is lined and covered with trees. this meant the Hawk couldn’t not simply fly up or to the side to get away. I poured on the speed, at least I think I did. I was already going cross eyed from the previous climb. I chased the Hawk and for half a minute I was within 10 yards of a bird whose wingspan ran the width of the trail.
    We eventually bursted out into an open area where the hawk banked to the right, away from the neighborhood and back into the wooded area.

  53. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 10.3.2007 | 2:27 pm

    Two stories – both of which make me shudder.

    Five of us were on a road ride through the rural hills near Stephenville, TX – good friends, beautiful day, beautiful countryside. We were on a fairly flat, fast stretch and, as we approached a large house on the top of a large hill, we saw two large, Great Pyrenees dogs ( get up off of the front porch and start walking in our direction. They were a few hundred yards away so we didn’t think much of it. Then, they broke into a gallop and the thought crossed my mind they they MIGHT get to us before we passed. I was riding in the back of the pack and, sure enough, the dogs got to us right as we approached a steep hill. We were on the opposite side of the road from the house and, as they crossed the street to greet us or bite us (they LOOKED happy), a Honda Civic crested the hill and hit the lead dog.

    Don’t freak out – the car was not going very fast at that point and it was probably hurt worse than the dog by the collision. However, the dog did get knocked down while in a full sprint and slid into us, wiping out the first three riders of our group like a bowling ball knocking down pins. We were all in complete shock, as was the girl in the car. Meanwhile, the dog got up, apparently unhurt, and starting galloping back towards the house with his buddy. Definitely surreal.

    The other story happened on a trail just South of DFW Airport – not exactly in the back woods. Four of us were riding along a heavily wooded section, having not really seen anyone else the whole ride, when we noticed a hiker up ahead who quickly stepped off the trail to let us pass. We couldn’t see him again until right as we passed him, at which point we noticed he was completely naked, except for his hiking boots, and smiling. He was also quite scruffy/dirty/dusty and had no tan lines to speak of. Once we all passed, he stepped back out on the trail and continued on his merry way. We all stopped, did a triple take, and stared at each other in silent disbelief for about 5 minutes. If I could only erase that image from my mind…

  54. Comment by IndoorRolyPoly | 10.3.2007 | 2:28 pm

    so, In 1999 I was riding home for work one night around 1:00 am, there was a full moon so you could see pretty good into the ditches. the road was nice and twisty and I was going at a pretty good clip. I had just dipped into a left hand curve when out of the corner of my eye I saw an pretty big deer. Just as I decided that I had better slow down a bit, WAMO I hit deer number 2! I guess the dang thing thought it was a good time to jump from the ditch to the road!

    Me, the deer, and my (beautiful) bike on the ground, and both of us swearing up a storm (if the sound the deer were making could be considered swearing)
    I got up, looked at the deer while walking (or more like limping) over to pick up my bike (deer was still lying down) grabbed the bar to gave a quick lift only to feel my handle bar bend like it was made of butter! (few more choice words) looked back at the deer only to see it standing up and run away! (ugh)

    what made matters worse was I had to call and worry/wake up my wife and tell her to pick me up at 1:00 in the morning.
    I’ll tell ya, if it wasn’t for the deer hair stuck on the bike I wouldn’t of had any proof that it really was a deer and not my stupidity (which I’m known for) that caused the accident.

    umm come to think of it, maybe I should mention I was on my motorbike……. naaa it’s still a bike!

  55. Comment by Born4Lycra | 10.3.2007 | 2:29 pm

    There was this Alpaca – never mind done it to death.

  56. Comment by lowrydr | 10.3.2007 | 2:37 pm

    I used to commute to work on the 2nd shift. And the ride home at Midnite was always great. The road I used has low traffic flow at Midnite so I could turn off my headlight on full Moon nights and the road would light up with Moon reflection, it’s great to ride that way.

    It was a late August night on the way home, and I was bombing down a great hill that is around 7/10th of a mile long. It’s also fairly steep so 45 mph is reached about half way down.

    As usual on this night I had the headlight off and pushing high gear, when I spotted something dark in the road up ahead. So I kick on the headlight. And what do I see, well it was a Coyote pup about 7 months old. He was standing on the center line of the road looking up hill. I’m sure he was wondering where the light suddenly came from. He was about 1/3rd the way down the hill.

    He couldn’t make up his mind which way to go, so he turned downhill and ran full bore down the centerline. And all I could do was holler Yee Haaa and stomp on the pedals harder. He made a jump for the left hand ditch about 200 yards farther down the hill.

    And I chuckled the rest of the ride home, which is another 5 miles of great country road.

    Best to the Family FC.

  57. Comment by JohnnyG | 10.3.2007 | 3:10 pm

    Riding the “V”

    A few years ago towards the end of one of our large Wednesday evening Hammerfest rides, several of us are in “ramp down mode” heading in. Entering the park for the final few miles back in I was caught by a few friends, while at the same time, catching a few more. We all converge together just in front of a fine eating establishment overlooking the Columbia river, each one adjusting there pace to form a “new group”. Suddenly “above” us and to our left we hear some “honking” of a non-car kind, and, just as suddenly there they were, two Canadian geese flying head level with us to our left a car’s width or so away! There was a patio full of folks enjoying the river view and pleasant evening, and about ready to witness one of life’s, “did you see THAT!?” moments! As Montana Mike, Big Al, Vitoria and myself were beginning to comprehend our visitors presence, they now dropped down, AND IN FRONT, of us in the group!! Unbeknownst to us at the time, but as we converged together, we formed a “broken v formation” to which the birds decided to complete! At this point it’s myself next to Mike, with Al, Vitoria and a few others in the “tail’ of the V! Al begins “honking” so well that I’m thinking there may be a 3rd goose behind me, other then the chuckle that he can’t contain after the “honks’ come back to him from lead goose! By now we hear folks on the deck commenting, “LOOK AT THOSE GEESE/CYCLISTS!!”, Mike and I are now riding within a bike length of our flying friends, who are now flying handlebar high directly in front of us. (Mike had been “half wheeling me, so the two geese were slightly staggered as well). At this point we’ve ridden a few hundred feet or so and begin the slight downgrade when the lead goose decides to attempt to land. At the front. Of a pack of cyclist traveling 20 mph. By now we are all very attentive to what is going on (as are the motorist behind us!) and start slowing down while lead goose does a few “touch ‘n goes” directly in front of Mike. Wings still a flap’n, webbed feet flail’n, he’s in full landing mode now, but Mike in his “can you believe THIS” moment literally ruffles the big fella’s tail feathers and he decides to “abort” the landing! We’ve slowed down significantly now, and also have motor traffic around us also witnessing this moment. After the aborted landing attempt, and more laughter then returned “honking” coming out of us, the geese decide their work here is now done and fly off to make right another misguided echelon further down their journey. The cars finally get by, big smiles on their faces, while we roll in the last couple miles never to forget the moment we “road the V” with our feathered friends.

    Honkingly yours,


  58. Comment by sans auto | 10.3.2007 | 3:23 pm

    Interurban trail in Algona/Pacific: A robin tried to fly through my front wheel. he didn’t make it. I barely stayed upright.

    Porland Or.: a squirel ran under the bottom bracket of the guy riding in front of me. He made it.

    Provo UT.: A few of us on a group ride got shot in the butt by a guy with a shot gun. The pellets didn’t break skin on any of us. It hurt. The guy got away.

    Somewhere in WY: We encountered a small herd of cattle that had just escaped from the pen. They were afraid of us and therefore ran down the highway. We followed, herding them for miles (not on purpose, but how do you “pass” a herd of cows?) The rancher guys did not seem happy.

  59. Comment by sorelegs | 10.3.2007 | 3:30 pm

    Allright, I’ve got another one. Loving all the stories!

    In 1990 I lived in a remote fishing/ wilderness camp Alaska for the summer. I was an avid mountain biker then. One day I went for a 20-25 mile single track loop ride. I was out in the middle of nowhere with no one else around. Now, in Alaska they have brown bears AKA grizzly and they can EAT YOU. They are especially dangerous if you surprise them.

    The most prudent thing to do when riding single track in Alaska is to make your presnece know waaay in advance. So while flying down a hill I would usually either sing at the top of my lungs or if feeling uninspired just yell, “HEY BEAR, HEY BEAR.”

    So there I am riding along, yelling at the top of my lungs, when I come across *fresh, warm* bear poop. Yes I stopped to check it out and it was warm. At this point I got that sinking, ‘what am I doing here’ feeling. Of course I got back on my bike and rode away as fast as my body would take me. About 45 seconds later the trail goes out of the forest into a meadow of grass that is higher than my head.

    So now I am riding very nervously down a trail of grass that makes me feel like a cartoon flea going down the part in a gaint cartoon head of hair. I go about 30 yards slowly with the grass parting as my handlebars hit it, basically blind. I couldn’t have been more nervous. Just then I came face to face with a big full grown MOOSE! The thing was about 3 feet away from me.

    I screamed the scream that one screams right before they die. The moose looked at me for a split second, made a left turn and trotted off across the meadow. I went back to camp and never went out for a ride by myself in Alaska again.

  60. Comment by Tim D | 10.3.2007 | 3:32 pm

    I was riding my road bike through the Trough of Bowland when something whacked me of the head, then again in the back. No-one around, nothing in the sky, no trees for anything to hide in, but two live fish on the road! Both about 3-4 inches long and still flapping.

  61. Comment by bryan | 10.3.2007 | 3:43 pm

    I got hit with a pop can (soda in certain regions). It was not thrown at me.

    My wife and I were nearing the end of a 40-mile ride, and we came to an intersection. We were going straight. Across and to the left, there was a lady on a riding mower. As we crossed the road, I saw the lady, I saw a pop can and somehow had enough time to think, ‘I hope I don’t get hit by a pop can.’

    I got hit with a pop can, on the helmet, right above my left ear. It left a couple of scratches on my helmet. I stopped to pick it up, and tossed it back onto the lawn, to let the lady know she hit me. She saw me walking across the road and said, “oh f**k you!”

    “you hit me with this!”

    I got back on my bike and caught up to my wife, who hadn’t seen it. “What was that all about?”

    I got hit with a pop can.

  62. Comment by bryan | 10.3.2007 | 3:45 pm

    here’s my second story, which I just remembered.

    I was propositioned by a hooker … while on my bike, waiting at a stop light, on the way home from work.

    I didn’t even know what to say.

  63. Comment by tnchaplain | 10.3.2007 | 3:56 pm

    I commuted about 25 km a day in South Korea for two years. Most of my ride took place on quiet country roads between the rice fields. The only traffic I ever saw was the occasional old lady on a beater bike cruising along at a walking pace (and staring at the strange looking white guy on a huge bike with helmet and glasses).

    I discovered one fall that the farmers had discovered a clever way of scaring off the cranes (birds, not heavy equipment). I was riding along, with only the wind in my ears, when someone shot off what sounded like a cannon right next to me. Frankly, I thought I’d been shot. I looked over into the rice field, and there was what looked like a giant potato gun on a tripod. It was smoking slightly, but otherwise there was no one around and only a few birds had scattered into the air.

    It seems that the farmers had set these guns up all over the valley, and they went off at intervals to scare off the birds who would otherwise eat the rice. I looked for a pattern, but couldn’t find any, so I rode in constant fear that one of these things was going to go off just as I passed. I found it to be much the same as climbing over an electric fence–you’re just waiting for the bad stroke of luck that would scare you half to death, but you have no idea when it’s coming.

    I sometimes wondered if there was an old Korean farmer hiding next to his field with a remote control, setting off his guns at appropriate moments, and laughing himself silly at the foreigner who nearly wet himself every time the cannons went off.

  64. Comment by tnchaplain | 10.3.2007 | 4:15 pm

    My second story also comes from Korea, where we regularly dealt with “yellow dust” which blew in from the desert in China. There were certain times of year when, if the dust level was too high, it was dangerous to be outside without protection over your eyes, mouth and nose. I bought a mask to commute on my bicycle without ruining my lungs.

    I was taking a detour home one day, which included about a 20 minute trail ride, and I came up on an old woman hiking on the trail. I slowed, and said hello (in Korean), but when she turned around, she screamed. I chuckled, and went on with my ride, but I wonder how she tells the story.

    Caucasian men are rare on the mountain trails of the small town where we lived. Mountain bikes are pretty rare. Masks like the one I was wearing are unheard of. Keep in mind that I was standing on my pedals, and was above her on the trail. I must have looked like an 8-foot tall monster from a cheap science fiction movie. For what it’s worth, I never saw her on that trail again.

    If I’ve done it right, this should link to a picture of me in full yellow dust apparel.

  65. Comment by Philthy in Oz | 10.3.2007 | 4:18 pm

    It’s currently magpie season (spring) here in Oz. On the weekend I went out for a ride with two other blokes. After the first decent hill Anthony, with his white helmet, was bringing up the rear about 100 m behind. We didn’t need to look around. We could hear his expletives quite clearly as three different magpies came to say “P!ss off away from my nest”. My other mate got a few strikes later in the ride and I got only one surprise when I felt the LH strap of my helmet get flicked but fortunately no bodily contact was resulted. I have been hit in the back of the neck and it feels like being poked with a sharp stick!
    We suggested to the Anthony whose white helmet seemed to be a bit of a magpie magnet, that he ride a few metres behind just to keep the rest of us all completely safe. His responded with about the same number of expletives as he had to the birds.

    Oh and I have come close to being collected by a kangaroo. They might look interesting but they are really really dumb when it comes to traffic safety!

  66. Comment by hobgoblin | 10.3.2007 | 4:22 pm

    Another squirrel tale. Years ago, I was riding with a couple of guys in my club along Wildcat Canyon Road in Berkeley. We were rolling along easily on the flattish part near the top when we saw a squirrel in the middle of our lane. At the same time, we saw a car approaching in the other lane. The squirrel looked at three cyclists spinning its way and turned to dash across the road.

    Then it saw the oncoming car. It froze. It looked at us with eyes widened in rodent terror. It did that stupid little spinning around dance that squirrels do when their wits completely leave them. Its tail puffed out and it sprinted.

    Straight at my wheel. I performed some sort of miraculous wild swing of the handlebars combined with a small twisting bunny-hop (or squirrel-hop, really) and somehow managed to catch the squirrel with the side of my wheel at which point I smacked it off the road like my wheel was a hockey stick and the squirrel was the puck. The squirrel then dashed up a tree, perhaps a little bruised, but intact.

    My friends were silent. About a mile later, one said, “Pretty cool.” We nodded and rode on.

  67. Comment by kentucky joe | 10.3.2007 | 4:43 pm

    I stick to the back roads of central kentucky on my bike rides and mostly I only get chased by stray dogs, spook fields of thoroughbreds or get stared down by a herd of cows. But on one of many hot days this past July is where my story takes place. I have a 25 mile loop that is pretty nice, hilly, hardly any traffic and usually tranquil. Being a hot midday ride, most “wildlife” is hunkered down waiting for the coolness of dusk to come out and feed. Anyway, I am nearing the last 5 miles of the loop and I had been hammering along (at least for me), inspired by the Tour de France no doubt, enjoying the peacefulness of the ride when I spotted what looked at first like some kind of dog racing across a field and heading my way. Great, I thought, but I was buoyed by the small mace I keep hanging from my handlebars. As we closed in on each other I noticed this “dog” was not running like a “dog” and as we closed to a couple hundred yards I saw this was a lone coyote on a bee line toward me. Not sure exactly whether to slow down or speed up, I chose the flight response and tried to outrun it. Of course, the mind often overthinks what the body can deliver and all this did was hasten our collision course. Then as suddenly as the coyote appeared, he scampered across the road not 5 feet in front of me headed toward a field of cattle and his most likely destination, a large pond. After that I needed a big drink as well!

  68. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.3.2007 | 4:48 pm

    Last year, bicycle commute to town with youngest son. Over the freeway overpass that gets into the city limits, and a family of opossums starts across the road. We were going about 25mph. Daniel bunny-hopped the one in front of him before I saw them. (He was in front.) He did not quite clear it and sent it rolling. I tried to bunny hop, but rolled him again, and his tail got entangled in my right pedal. FLORP! FLORP! FLORP!

    He got off and skittered away.

    Mike Roadie, and anyone else who wants my LIVESTRONG ride report – My email address is:

  69. Comment by Jeremy | 10.3.2007 | 5:10 pm

    About three weeks ago I rode by a man that was emptying his bladder while standing outside his car at an intersection. Now this intersection is not exactly far off of the beaten path in Athens, Ga, and I’m not sure if he thought that simply standing with his back to his open car door would make his lack of patience ok, but there he was. The funny thing is that he saw me ride past, and didn’t seem to be too concerned that he had been caught in the act. To be honest though, I’m sure that I could come up with much better stories simply by riding through downtown on a home game day (something that I try to avoid at all costs).

  70. Comment by Les | 10.3.2007 | 5:53 pm

    This past spring on my favorite section of the American River Bike Trail, the best part, a long flat straight away just feet from Lake Natoma. I came a cross some geese. Tons of them—with their goslings. I saw them start to appear from behind some reeds on the shore. They were crossing the bike path to other side (insert chicken joke here). I slowed down with what I thought would be plenty of time for them to pass. No such luck. As I got closer to them my speed got down to 5 miles and hour and the parent geese decided to teach me a lesson. Rushing towards me wings extended hissing and spitting. One actually tried to bite me. Pretty funny in hind sight—getting run off the path by dozens of adult geese.

  71. Comment by LanterneRouge | 10.3.2007 | 6:31 pm

    This one time at band camp…

    Sorry. Wrong thread.

  72. Comment by MonsieurM | 10.3.2007 | 6:36 pm

    This didn’t happen to me, but to my father. A few years back, he was with a bunch of friends on a week long trip in New Hampshire, more precisely in Gorham and the whole area near Mt. Washington. For those of you who don’t know the place, it’s the highest sector in the eastern part of the USA. It’s not the Rockies or the Pyrénées, but there are some good climbs out there.

    So they rent a room in Gorham and then bike pretty much every road in the area for a week. One day, they were coming back from Franconia Notch towards Conway. Along the way, you have to pass through the Kancamagus Highway, a beautiful road in the middle of the White Mountains National Forest. After reaching the top of Kancamagus Pass, they began to ride the long 21 mile descent. They were going down full speed when they heard an odd crashing noise to their left… and then before they realized it, they had a huge moose running in front of them. Now, a moose is one big animal, but on hard asphalt, it’s not the most steady animal… hooves have no grip there, especially when running at a high speed.

    Not knowing how a startled unsteady moose might react if passed by a bunch of spandex-wearing, pedal-pushing boys (sorry, I had to put that one in) they wisely decided to slow down and stay behind… and after a few moments, the moose decided it was enough and jumped off the road… over the very steep side of the mountain where they heard him tumble down for a loooooong time.

    As for me, apart from a stray cat that sent me high-flying over my handlebars (like Burghardt in this year’s Tour when he met a dog), I’ve never had spectacular encounters with animals while riding.

  73. Comment by Kevin B. | 10.3.2007 | 6:42 pm

    On a group ride in SE South Dakota I was riding hard with a friend of mine when we came up on a huge bunch of turkeys. Now usually turkey’s will get out off the road and hide in the ditch. This time they split in two groups and stayed on the road. As we rode between them, I said to my (very well educated) friend, “I hope they don’t fly” to which he responded “Turkey’s fly?”. On que, up went two of them, one of them giving me a light thwap on the the way up.

    If you have never experienced the phenomenon of a turkey flying up close and personal, their wing span is VERY immense and intimidating!

    No accidents with this experience, but a couple of nervous laughs and a continuation of the ride!

    Ride on!

  74. Comment by Kevin B. | 10.3.2007 | 6:49 pm

    Bike Story #2: Black Hills MS Bike Tour (WRATH) in 2006.
    It’s a very grueling climbing course for us flatlanders but VERY beautiful. To shorten the story I had decided to take the century loop which dropped us into Wind Cave and then turned around to come out. I was all by myself when a huge buffalo walked out onto the road and stopped. I stopped too. We started at each other. Then my brain kicked in and said “1.) Buffalo don’t like to be stared at. 2.)Buffalo can run over 40 mph” I casually turned around and slowly pedaled the other direction and luckily he lost interested and crossed the road on his merry way and I continued on.

  75. Comment by Mathias | 10.3.2007 | 6:52 pm

    i dont have a story but I yours

    [[Deleted by Fatty because of objectionable language -- remember, folks: it's got to pass the "Fatty's OK with his kids reading it" test.]]

  76. Comment by Samoz | 10.3.2007 | 6:54 pm

    In Australia, we have a breeding season for a native bird called the magpie, it happens around September/October as we move from winter to summer.

    They are very protective of their areas and partake in an activity Aussies are well aware of. Many injuries have been suffered from them swooping upon unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclist and digging their sharp claws and beak.

    On this one particular occassion a few years ago I was riding in a group past a section of parkland where most cyclists knew was home to one vicious bird. I had just returned to the back after pulling the group for while and obviously not thinking that i could be swooped as i was trying to recover. Anyway I stood up to stretch the legs, it turned out to be perfect timing as the magpie hit me right in the back of the head and fell to the ground. The group stopped, thinking some one had gone down (they certainly did, just not a cyclist). The bird was obviously dazed as it took some moments before it took flight again. Needless to say no one reported any further attacks along the stretch of road, til the next year of course.


  77. Comment by Boz | 10.3.2007 | 6:57 pm


  78. Comment by Gordon in Melbourne | 10.3.2007 | 7:21 pm

    I’m going to continue with the magpie theme from Australia.

    Last Thursday 4 attacks in one ride including one that had 4 goes at me. After the fourth time I actually got off the bike and threw a stick it it hoping that it may learn a lesson and leave us cyclists alone. I’m sure it was futile but I felt better.

    After that I was having a discussion with a friend and he has a few chickens in his back yard and was saying in a group ride that they seemed to keep magpies away. One smart bloke suggested we all strap live chickens to our helmets, that was when I nearly fell off.

    I have also nearly been hit by kangaroos (I see a troop of them (I believe that is the correct collective noun)) if I mountain bike to work. I roughly counted about 85 last week.

    The main river in Melbourne is the Yarra and at night there are quite a few wombats, luckily I have never made contact because they are solid buggers.

    On another matter why not have a prize of a ride with the Biker Babes. Useless if I win it in Australia but it is nice to dream…or “raffle” a ride with them with the proceeds going to cancer research. Going by the comments (and my constant dreaming of them) I’m sure you could raise a tidy sum.

  79. Comment by Debamundo | 10.3.2007 | 7:36 pm

    It was last year, September I think because the days were noticeably shorter but my husband and I were still able to squeeze in a ride after work. We were just finishing up our ride, maybe four miles from the house, and it was dusk. That time of year we always push it to the limit, racing the sun to get in as long a ride as possible. We were on a county road, more or less side by side, which is unusual for us, when something moving along the side of the road caught my eye. For a split second I thought it was a cat, but all at once I realized the truth. Then I felt a splat on my right shin, and other small droplets hit my arms and face. We’d just been sprayed by a skunk.

    I actually ran over a bird once. On a group ride a small bird flew into the cyclist in front of me, fell to the road, and I ran right over it. (Not on purpose.)

  80. Comment by Matthew | 10.3.2007 | 7:44 pm

    Woodstock a-tumbling…..

    A few years back I was climbing up a nice hill chatting away with my teammate. All was good until I felt a little thump against my front wheel. I looked down and to my surprise here was a little bird taking a spin within my spokes!

    Fortunately the little bird had twirled out before it was caught up in my fork.

    We both stopped and just looked on in amazement as this little bird sat on the side of the road dazed and confused. When it tried to get up — the first time — it staggered about and flopped down. The second time it got up, it staggered around in a little circle and all I could think of is Woodstock from Peanuts.

    After about three minutes of being dazed and confused, the bird flew off into the woods.

    I still think about Woodstock every time I climb that hill.

  81. Comment by Dopey | 10.3.2007 | 7:51 pm

    Well, it doesn’t involve animals, but I was riding along a sparsely populated road when I heard a loud scream for help. A fella had gotten down from his running tractor with shredder (a.k.a. Brush Hog) attached to remove a horse lead from a pipe fence. Evidently when he tried to untangle the rope the shredder caught the rope and proceeded to twist it around the spinning blade. His leg just happened to get entwined in the rope. The rope then twisted like bad yo-yo string just below his knee. It was completely cutting off circulation. No hands were going to to alleviate this guys agony. I didn’t have a knife (I’m a road biker) but was able to flag down a lone passerby who then cut away the binding. In return his dog bit me on my ankle and tore my sock. Oh, he did say thanks. I take it back, this did have an animal in it…

  82. Comment by Gordon in Melbourne | 10.3.2007 | 8:08 pm

    Forgot to mention another one …. does a dead dog count.

    I like dogs so there was no malice but I was being forced to the side by a car that didn’t want to share the road with me so it was over the dog or under the wheels.

  83. Comment by Philthy in Oz | 10.3.2007 | 10:55 pm

    Your squirrel haiku is a ripper.
    Why not send it to ElevenGear and see if they will put it on their cycling haiku page.

  84. Comment by buckythedonkey | 10.3.2007 | 11:59 pm

    We bumped into the naked Rambler ( on our recent South Downs Way sojourn.

    It’s odd being head-down, pedalling hard and realising realising that the walker coming the other way is stark bollock naked. I thought it best to gain and maintain eye contact and issue forth a pleasantry:

    “Nice tan!”

    In summary:

    High on South Downs Way
    Eyes drawn to man, starkers
    Don’t look down, look up

  85. Comment by Logan | 10.4.2007 | 12:13 am

    I was riding past the Sac Valley Amphitheatre on a normal ride by my house a couple summers ago. It’s hicksville so I’m used to being verbally molested on this route. When a 15 passenger van pulled up next to me and began to pace, I ignored it. When a husky male voice said, “HEY!” twice, I ignored that too. When the voice said, “man, he’s living with his EARS closed”, followed by laughs, I was intrigued, so I looked at the source of the voice. It belonged to Carter Beauford, the drummer for Dave Matthews Band. The laughter came from Dave and a couple others sitting behind him. Dave leaned forward and spoke in a lazy drawl, “Hey man, do you know where we could find a organic food store, or uh, somethin’?” I accidentally rode off the pavement into the grass, then recovered. I answered, “Not in this town. There’s one in Roseville” and pointed south. Carter asked, “How far”, and I answered “40 miles”. They paused and then Dave smiled and said, “we’ll beat you there.” Then they laughed and drove out of my life forever. My tire went flat from a goathead moments later, no doubt from riding off the road while in conversation. Dave, if you read this, you owe me a tube.

  86. Comment by Tim | 10.4.2007 | 12:46 am

    I was riding my Mountain Bike on Table Mountain, Cape Town SA. At night, with my pretty powerful night riding lights on. Suddenly a Porcupine heads onto the road in front of me, extends its quills and starts running along the track just in front of my bike. Picture the image, my lights turn the mountain landscape into a series of monochrome snapshots and there is this spiky animal the size of medium sized dog with its quills raised, rustling along looking like a black and white starburst. It suddenly took a hard left turn and droped of the path. gone, but still my most memorable animal encounter.

  87. Comment by Stomper | 10.4.2007 | 12:50 am

    Looks like they attack in New Zealand too……

  88. Comment by Scott | 10.4.2007 | 3:08 am

    I’ve had a number of animal encounters — some of which occurred while I rode my standard route out of my hometown in Montana. I road a rural highway up into some small mountains, and you would never know what you might see. One of my buddies ran over a rattlesnake once when he wasn’t watching the road!

    I was out one day by myself and blew past a road that turned onto a farmstead and out of the ditch flew 8 owls! First of all, since when to owls flock? And since when do they hang out in ditches, waiting to scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting cyclists. Later investigation suggested these were short-eared owls — which explained nothing.

    I was out riding another day (I know what you’re thinking: no witnesses) and I was on a fast downhill section really blowing along and I happed to look to my right and realized a coyote was pacing me! I think he was just curious but eventually he realized this was a human of some sort and he turned and sped off over a ridge and disappeared.

    My favorite experience occurred while I was hiking a ridge line in Minnesota watching for hawks catching thermals rising off the valley floor. Along this knife edge trail there was quite a bit of scrub oak. Suddenly a bunch of small black and red birds started fluttering around me and stayed with me as I walked the trail. I was alone again, so I guess if I hallucinate animals while riding/walking by myself, I do it in disneyesque fashion.

  89. Comment by Wonderdyke | 10.4.2007 | 3:33 am

    Hi Fatty – Can’t say that I’ve ever been hit with anything more exciting than a stiff breeze – however, scenery has been a whole entirely different matter. About a month ago, I was doing my favorite road ride which provides me with scenic vistas, water views, and plenty of dogs to outrun. I approached a corner and noticed a strange looking rock that I’d not seen before. As I grew closer, I realized that it was, in fact, not a rock at all, but rather two mutually consenting and fairly large turtles enjoying some private time by the side of the road. As they seemed to be practicing safe, albeit slow, sex – I flew by without comment. Nothing like a little bit of turtle love in the morning!!

  90. Comment by Velofreak | 10.4.2007 | 3:50 am

    My story doesn’t involve a collision with the local fauna, fortunately.
    I was doing my usual early-morning before work ride out to Jake Garn Airport in Eagle Mountain when I spotted an antelope standing beside the road. This in itself is not spectacular, since it is almost a usual occurance. I slowed down in case he decdided to dart across the road in front of me – again, a usual occurance. This time instead of standing there, or crossing in front of me, this antelope started running down the road, pacing me. I of course took up the challenge and ramped up my effort, which made him increase his. This continued for about a half mile, before he finally jumped back into the fields along the road. Some mornings it is nice having a riding partner just to increase your output.

  91. Comment by Weean | 10.4.2007 | 4:34 am

    Hmm, lots of animal stories here. My most surreal moment involved a very innocent-looking sandwich bag that blew into my drivetrain as I was pulling away from Traffic lights.

    It got caught in the chain and jammed in good, causing me to completely shred my rear mech and bend the hanger (Damn, I must have been strong in those days!). I stopped pedalling ‘cos things weren’t feeling quite right, and I’m glad I did. I reckon one more turn of the pedals would have put the whole mess into my spokes, and added a new rear wheel to my already expensive list of replacement items.

  92. Comment by Taocat | 10.4.2007 | 5:02 am

    i once had to sprint to get between 2 groups of stampeding cattle – during a 24-hour race…

    i was riding section of trail that ran along a streambed at the bottom of a hill. Further up the trail turned left to climb back up the hill parallel to where I was riding. I heard a noise that I first thought was thunder, but it was a clear morning. As I made the turn and began the climb, a large group of cattle stampeded accross the trail in front of me. There was a small gap and I could see another group coming! Nothing wakes you up on the morning lap of a 24 hour race like sprinting uphill to avoid getting trampled by cows!

  93. Comment by WombatK | 10.4.2007 | 5:46 am

    Magpies and their relatives in Sydney are pretty fierce in defending their territory as a few other comments attest. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been swooped around 3 or 4 times per 20 km ride – and it is particularly disconcerting when you’re in traffic. A helmet is a good start for protection, but the larger birds are known to take a nip out of unprotected ears.

    Unfortunately, the magpies are a protected species and other means of protection like sling-shots and bb-guns are out of the question. So we’ve got to get smarter, not tougher than them.

    The magpies seem to have something against cyclist – driving by in an open top car at the same kind of speed doesn’t invite the same attack. Go figure that !

    But here is something easier to figure. The magpies are natural cowards and always strike from behind. How do they know they’re coming from behind you ? Well, you haven’t got eyes in the back of your head.

    So there is a remedy: using a whiteboard marker, draw some eyes on the back of your helmet. I’m no artist, but over the last few days, I still get dive-bombed – but the beggars pull out maybe 3 to 5 metres away. No more unexpected pecks on the helmet, and no more fear of maybe catching a nip on an unprotected ear.

    And its quitely amusing watching their shadows swooping in and pulling out, wasting all that energy. TORA ! TORA ! TORA ! vroooooooom…. Whoa, pull out blackbird, this guys got eyes in the back of his head !

    And if I don’t wanna look like a magpie-fearing wimp in front of my macho friends, I just wip out a handkerchief and rub-out the whiteboard eyes when I’ve finished my ride.

  94. Comment by JT | 10.4.2007 | 5:55 am


    [See article :Tour of Missouri – Stage 3 Time Trial and Our Time With The Discovery Boys”

    During the recent innaugural Tour of Missouri, the ITT stage in Branson was a splendid layout for a time trial, relatively short at 18 miles but a leg burner with continuous rollers and serious hills offering miles of 8-10% grades with almost no variation – and absolutely no chance for relief – leveling the challenge for the power/speed guys and climbers.

    Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was certainly feeling the pain from his 10th place effort. After signing autographs at the finish area he and teammate Benjamin Noval began the ride back to the Hilton hotel near the start area – that’s right, Discovery apparently no longer feels it necessary to pick up their TdF winner in a helicopter (a la LA) let alone send a team car or even a kid on a Vespa to escort them the 10 miles back – so off they went looking for directions which could be viewed as insulting to them as prestigious riders, let alone as men. We hate to ask for directions, it’s well known.

    Instructions we overheard from one race volunteer weren’t exactly helpful, either, as she couldn’t decide whether they should take a right or a left at highway 248. Our Discovery boys, who speak lets just say less than perfect English, found this, lets just say, confusing.

    Fortunately, yours truly and my good friend Steve just so happened to be heading back to the start area (i.e., stalking them) and seized on the opportunity to lead them back. In full disclosure, we had ridden the route once already that morning and gotten miserably lost notwithstanding there weren’t many roads to choose from. With this invaluable advanced scouting we were gung ho to give it another try with two hapless Discovery chaps along for the journey.

    So we got underway and Noval promptly handed over his water bottle as advance payment for our services, then he pointed at his legs and said, “Ok, amigos, EASY.” We of course understood they’d both just burned their matches all the way up to their fingertips in the time trial and they weren’t looking for a testy ride behind two overzealous club guys (who, us?), so we rolled out at slightly less than full throttle and when the roads tilted up Noval shouted up “Amigos, EASY,” and glancing back our boys were now floating a few bike lengths back. So I looked to Steve, who’s the faster of the two of us (except when going for Noval’s bidon, hah!) and therefore gets the blame for our up tempo, and said, “Man, slow up a bit, you’re dropping Contador” — and with that it was a ride for posterity, not to mention lifetime club bragging rights.

    So our newfound best friends Alberto and Benjamin trailed behind us chatting happily en Espanol, relieved of navigating their way home. Meanwhile, Steve and I were engrossed in our own friendly conversation that went something like, (me) “I think we go straight here,” (Steve), “No, I think we go left,” (me), “No, that’s the way we came when you got us lost the first time and led us into a valley it took a donkey to ride out of,” (Steve), “weren’t you leading at that point?” (me) “I think we go straight anyway.” Clearly the Discovery Team had found a couple of rubes for this job, but what do you expect for a used water bottle?

    Long story short, our guys got back safely and we headed straight to the pub for some well deserved refreshments and proceeded to blast-dial anyone we could think of who might be jealous about our little spin with The Boys.

    As a final note, we spent some quality time with Dan Schmatz, Missouri native and pro rider for BMC, who had the day before crashed out upon hitting an armadillo (think big rat with Kevlar shell), breaking his collarbone in the process. Actually, we shouted down to him from the second level of the parking garage and he waved back. It was great. We wish him a quick recovery, and promise not to get within 50 yards as per the restraining order.

  95. Comment by pipebaum | 10.4.2007 | 6:00 am

    The city spent the last two months repairing a small bridge near my house (two months to span 20 feet, unbelievable). As I am riding towards the bridge, I have good view of one of my older neighbors checking out the craftsmanship. As I approach, I continue to watch him stroll around.

    As I get closer, he strides with great purpose to one edge of the bridge. He turns and starts to walk right across the road with great purpose. At this point, I am getting pretty close, based on his aimless wandering pace, I figure that I can pass in front of him. No, he is in his measure the bridge pace. So I change course, I will go behind him.

    Some old fart sixth sense must have kicked in, because now he dramatically slows. Did he lose count? Is he going to turn back? Am I going to hit this old coot? If I yell at him, am I going to spoke him? If I spoke him, will he jump into me or worse have a heart attack?

    I finally decide that maybe the time has come to hit the brakes. I come gliding to a stop about 12 inches from this coot. He slowly looks up, and gives me that look, he is pissed. Fighting every urge to say something nasty and keeping the NFWOP* rule in mind, I smile and go on my way.

    I have had encounters with birds, dogs, squirrels, chipmunks, moose and now I can say I have had an encounter with a coot.

    *NFWOP = never fuck with old people

  96. Comment by Bitter (Lissee) | 10.4.2007 | 6:12 am

    Gnats. I’ve been hit by dozens and dozens of gnats.

  97. Comment by cheapie | 10.4.2007 | 6:15 am

    man…nothing like free swag to get people commenting. since i already have 7 twinsix t-shirts, including the black FC one, i won’t bore you with a story since most here top anything i might have.

    ‘cept that one time i was riding in scotland and Nessy grabbed me. good thing that Yeti was vacationing there as well and helped pull me free or i’d have been toast!

  98. Comment by Brett Taylor | 10.4.2007 | 6:16 am

    I have had 2 interactions (again with squirrels and birds – what is it with them?) and a number of near misses with other associated wildlife. When I lived in Boulder, I had a squirrel, desperate to cross 30th St, attempt to make the gap between the wheels on my road bike. It didn’t make it – oh, and road bike tires pumped to 100 psi do not provide a gentle massage to a squirrel spine. Also in Boulder, I had a bird fly through my front wheel! Mostly feathers and other smaller parts came out the other side. That was not fun to clean up. My near miss in Boulder came as I was climbing the hill on Folsom near Valmont on my way home. I had my head down as it’d been a long day and the hill, while not big, was just one last impediment to sleep. Suddenly though I was much more awake as I saw 4 separate hooves come flying by about a foot ahead of my front wheel. I never saw anymore of the deer than that as I think my heart stopped.

    Once I moved to Montana the interactions tended to involve larger ungulates and predators including close calls with moose (mama and her calf), elk, and deer.

    Now that I’m in Virginia, most of those close calls seem to come from another set of mammals that ’round here we call “red necks.”

  99. Comment by Marty | 10.4.2007 | 6:20 am

    I was with two friends and we were descending a track down a small hill in the bush on our mountain bikes. Ahead I could see a utility car and a man putting something in the cab of the car. At first I assume he’d been cutting fire wood with a chainsaw and was packing up his gear, but it seemed a bit strange that he had no shirt on and bare feet. As we got closer it dawned on me that it was a life size blow-up doll he was trying to hurriedly get in the car, with arms and legs flailing everywhere. I guess it’s hard to deflate those things quickly. Luckily, to save him and us embarssment there was a diverting track just before the car which we took, shrieking in laughter. What was worse was that we knew who the guy was so ever since then whenever we’ve met him we’ve all had to pretend that it never happen, which is extremely awkward.

    Other more normal things included two collisions with kangaroos, one sending me over the handlebars and the ‘roo to the ground, one bird at night which I thought was a rock and steered slightly to the side of it before it suddenly rose off the ground hitting the underneath of my handlebars, and then carrying up into the night sky. Scared the hell out of all of us. Another time at night a bird flew up off the track (they seem to like sleeping on tracks) and got sort of trapped within the triangle of the bike frame and my knees. It fluttered around between my knees for a distance of about fifty metres before escaping and flying off. A very strange sensation.

    Also hopped over a few snakes, large lizards, had near misses with suicide rabbits, emus, wild pigs, countless dogs, cows on a road at night, (I was riding my road bike with my light off to conserve the battery and could see large shapes moving around me, stopped and turned on the light and discovered I was within a herd of cows that had strayed onto the road), wild sheep. Also found lot’s of tools on roads and tracks, they must fall of the back of utes.

    That’s all.

  100. Comment by pipebaum | 10.4.2007 | 6:25 am


    Sorry, I broke the potty mouth rule. Can you edit to remove the foul language, I learned it from my wife.

    Good luck judging this, there are way too many great entries.

  101. Comment by turnonthejets | 10.4.2007 | 6:43 am

    I was out riding a series of trails in Kanata back when I lived in Ottawa and I came upon a deer, very close to civilization. She just stayed there and stared at me. I stopped and put a foot on the ground and stared back. I waited for it to leave but it didn’t…just stayed. I stayed still and looked at it closely, we were probably only a little more than ten feet apart and I could see the spots on her coat and a scrape on her side that was healing…maybe running too fast down one of the trails and caught a branch…I know I’d done it in there and have had scrapes to prove it. She kept me locked with those big black eyes. I averted mine as to subvert and hopefully put her at ease and I think it might have. She looked me up and down…probably wondering why I was dressed so funny. Then she started to graze again on the tasty leaves she must have been enjoying just before I came loudly into the area. I watcher her eat for a while and got a great up close view of this beautiful animal doing what she’d be doing if I weren’t there at all. I had the rest of a bar I had in my jersey pocket and a drink from my pack to wash it down. We shared a break and some fuel for the trail, and a few moments of wonder. Eventually after we’d both had enough food for the moment she started to move away and I did the same. I looked back over my shoulder and she broke into a gallop…ok so deer don’t gallop but it wasn’t a run and not a walk etither….what do deer do at that pace anyway? I saw her flick her tail as if to wave goodbye.

    It was almost spiritual, definitely surreal. Sometimes I wonder if it really happened. I hadn’t thought of that in some time. Thanks for reminding me, you’ve already given me a gift.

  102. Comment by Steve | 10.4.2007 | 6:44 am

    Two stories to share here…

    When I was first starting out riding ( on an ancient and way to small Centurion) I came across a buck in a harvested corn field. We eye balled each other for a bit, but the best moment came when I decided to be on my way. He decided the same thing and ran beside me for about a half of a mile before crossing the road in front of me and disappearing into the woods. About a half mile later he reappeared, crossing the road yet again. That ride is what really hooked me into riding for life.


    I was up in Canada for a wedding and took my mountain bike with me to enjoy some different terrain. On my last morning, I woke up early to catch a quick ride before the 14 hour drive home. Blasting along beautifully groomed single track I noticed a green thing going under my front wheel. I instantly thought “snake!” I hate snakes. But I also hate to hurt animals. So I went back to check if I hand actually killed it. Well, I hadn’t. I really couldn’t have killed it, because it was a green rubber snake! Scared witless by a plastic toy!


  103. Comment by Rocky | 10.4.2007 | 7:32 am

    About five years ago I was riding alone out in a desert trail complex. It was late in the year, so there weren’t but a couple of other cars in the parking lot. The trail I was riding enters and exits at the same point after about 15 miles of twisting and turning in the foothills below bookcliff-type mountains.

    It was a lovely afternoon – you know the Fall kind that make riding a bike the best thing on earth. I had nothing else to do, and so after enjoying a couple of loops, I was leisurely heading for my car. To get the the parking area, one has to climb up a 50-or-so foot high hill onto a bench. That is significant, only because there is a rudimentary road that comes off of and then parallels that bench along the main road about one mile before. Just picture the main road about 50 feet above the jeep road.

    About 1/2 mile from where the trail re-enters the parking area, I could see that a car had come onto the jeep road just about where the trail enters and exits the bench, and had set up a tent, or something. The trunk of the car was open and that something (tent or sunshade or whatever it was) was flapping in the wind – a rain fly I thought. As I got closer, I could still see the flapping, but it was becoming more and more apparent that it was not a tent. Do your kids read your blog? Please say no!

    Suffice it to say that when I got to where the trail turned toward the parking lot above, I stared for a moment in total disbelief at what was going on over there. The couple must have thought that they were way out in the middle of the desert, since they had left the main road nearly a mile before; not that they were only 50 feet from the entrance to one of the largest mountain biking complexes in Western Colorado. Or maybe they just didn’t care- it’s a beautiful thing, right? Not so much from my angle, anyway. Whatever the case, the two women that rode in behind me were equally as shocked as I was. The ranger that arrived about five minutes later was not shocked, but a little put off at the task in front of him, as he had had a report of a couple amorously engaged on the trail below. He got to walk down there and request that they desist. Lucky him.

    They had no blankets for covering – they had obviously planned the “little outing” as they had a mattress of some sort, chairs and a cooler for post rompus relaxation and refreshment.

    I think it would have been nicer to have been hit by a condor.

  104. Comment by Rocky | 10.4.2007 | 7:47 am

    I have come face to face with an enormous and slightly confrontational bull elk, numerous deer (very close encounters a half a dozen times, I was caught in the middle of a fight between a badger and a golden eagle (that one was the scariest since my abrupt arrival seemed to give them both the idea that the larger, doughier, less-apt-to-fight prey might be an easier proposition), I have been caught between a mother mountain lion and cubs (that was the fastest most terrifying night ride of my life, ever), I have encountered a dozen snakes on the trail – half of which have been the poisonous variety, and I have sliced through more bunnies (road bike tires really cut through ‘em) and lizards than I care to mention.

  105. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Good, But Not Plenty | 10.4.2007 | 8:13 am

    [...] « Surreal Moments [...]

  106. Comment by DoubleD | 10.4.2007 | 8:15 am

    Riding back home from a Saturday group ride, I notice a road kill possum laying on the centerline of a quite country road about 100 yds. ahead. Quite a common site in middle Tennessee. This guy is swollen up pretty tight, light he might split if you thumped him. About that time I hear the Dodge diesel dually pulling a trailer rattling up behind me. We’re both closing on the possum pretty fast, so of course, he decides to pass. Like 90% of Tennesseans he gave me the whole lane. Quite courteous, really. My front tire is 10 yards from the roadkill when the 5 Tons of Dodge right tire hits the possum and he pops like a giant pimple. I’m not sure which I’ll remember longer, the sound, or the spray of possum innard chunks. Heavy braking and excellent bicycle handling skills prevented permanent stains to the kit.

  107. Comment by Willie Nelson | 10.4.2007 | 8:34 am

    AF Canyon on the way down from Tibble Resevoir to the main road, I was hauling down the road when a mamma deer jumped out in front of me. I had time to slow down and she ran off safely. However, her little Bambi was a little late on his arrival to the road and almost drilled me in the side! He skidded and slipped his way to a stop on the pavement (hooves really are a terrible urban adaptation). He then proceeded to follow ME down the road for a good 1/2 mile, like I was his mamma!!! I was surprised but laughing hysterically and also scared because I didn’t want a car to come up the road thinking I had just kidnapped a baby deer and was luring him out of the wilderness with margarita Shot Bloks. That’s just weird.

    The other weird moment was watching my good friend (Laurance Bollschweiler, of the Wednesday night Sundance bike race fame) go over his handlebars. However, this wasn’t just watching a friend go over the handlebars, for some reason my brain saw it in slow motion. I can still recall details of watching him slowly eject, yell, stretch out his arms, bike flipping over… time slowed down and it was great! He was just fine and so was the bike. If he’d a gotten real hurt you would have won the Wednesday night race!!

  108. Comment by jdannettel | 10.4.2007 | 8:49 am

    Since reading a few of the mid-ride findings, and getting a clue about what people see on rides, I wanted to share my own findings.

    I was trying as hard as I could to catch a friend of mine while at a local park in Prescott, AZ and I turned a corner to see someone croutched in the middle of the trail. Being the concerned mountain biker that we all need to be, I slowed and asked them if they were okay. She quickly stands up, pulls up her shorts, turns to me and tells me that she is okay. It turns out that she was cop-ing a squat in the middle of the trail and I interrupted her moment of silence. I stood back up on the pedals, bunny hopped the stream on liquid heading off the trail, and rode on.

    I have seen numerous guys standing off to the side of a trail taking care of business, but this was the first that was in the middle of the trail, taking care of business.

  109. Comment by mocougfan | 10.4.2007 | 8:55 am

    I have to add my story. I’ll try to keep it brief.

    I was descending down Juniper’s Pass in this year’s Triple Bypass. As I was descending a huge bug went into my open pie hole. Unfortunately this is not a new thing. However, this was no small bug. It was big and it hurt. I’m pretty sure it was a Juniper Bug. It was the bug from hell. I stopped, gagged, and tried to get rid of it. No avail. So I rinsed and swallowed. It was nasty.

    A few weeks later I started getting sick. A huge lump on the left side of my neck devolped, then another, and another. I went to the ENT to figure out what was wrong. He told me it looked like I had lacerated or cut my left tonsilar area somehow. He guessed it was from a potatoe chip or something. I knew it was the STUPID BUG!!!!!.

    Long story short (too late), I ended up getting a nasty infection in the tonsilar region of my throat that spread. The Doc’s put me in the hospital on strong IV Antibiotics. I was sick and miserable for about a month. I had paid for LOTOJA and I couldn’t do that ride. That totally sucked.

    Moral of the story, keep your pie hole shut!!!

  110. Comment by tigermouth | 10.4.2007 | 8:56 am

    I bike commute daily, year-round, in all sorts of weather. (Although I must admit my cable modem has turned me into a wimp; now when school gets canceled due to a snowstorm, I just work from home.) My ride takes me through a little park with a big pond. After one of our “100-year” rainstorms the path through the park was flooded and I rode through water deeper than my bottom bracket. Just ahead of me a beaver swam across the trail from the main pond to a smaller pond which contained the beaver lodge.

    Another time I was riding home through this park after dark. They had recently built a stone dust path next to the paved path (don’t ask me why) and I was trying it out. My headlight illuminated a large blob in front of me on the trail so I slowed down and saw that it was a mammoth snapping turtle that was digging a hole in the path to lay its eggs.

    On a ride from Boston, MA to Windsor, VT I saw a great blue heron with a frog dangling from its beak. Last month riding to Provincetown on Cape Cod, I saw a hawk fly past with a fish in its claws. But my closest encounter with wildlife was while mountain biking on a snowmobile trail at Mount Ascutney in Vermont. It was night and I had lights mounted on my handlebars. A huge, green luna moth fluttered around me for a bit, then landed on top of the lights and stayed there for a minute or so as I rode up the mountain trail.

  111. Comment by Phil in VA | 10.4.2007 | 8:58 am

    “The Owl’s Leading Now” This happened on a dusk descent of Massanuten Mountain in western Virginia. Picture a warm Spring evening, almost dark, decending the last 3 miles of forest road. It’s a nice, easy, double-track downhill, which is good because we’re tired and it’s already dark in the woods and we don’t have lights. It’s the time of day my Grandfather used to call “rabbit dark.” Cruising along, quiet, lost in our own thoughts, when an owl silently overtakes us from behind and drops in about 20 feet ahead. He’s coasting too, matching our pace, about 12 feet above the trail. He’s big. Probably 3+ foot wingspan. Nobody says a word. We just keep riding, and he just keeps flying. At this point, your sense of time becomes skewed simply because of the experience. Minutes seem extended, but suffice it to say he led us for at least a mile. Then just as quickly as he appeared, he veered off and was gone. Surreal. Dare I say religious? (Yes, I do.) My thought was he was hunting and using us to scare up game. If anyone has another theory, I’d love to hear it.

  112. Comment by KT | 10.4.2007 | 10:39 am

    Okay, just a couple short ones from me:

    The first time we did the Vineride (mid- August) out of Newberg, OR a yellow jacket (aka German Wasp, The Scourge, etc) flew into my jersey and right into my sports bra. I’ve never stopped a bike faster. Didn’t get stung. It was a weird sensation, that small, mean-spirited, venom-filled fluttering bug in that sort of location.

    A couple of months ago, I was riding to work on a chilly morning, 7:30AM. Sitting at a stop light, waiting for it to change. I got stung between the collar bones. I didn’t realize it was a bee sting, all I know is my chest hurt. I’m sure the guy in the car next to me thought I was having a heart attack, the way I grabbed a handful of jersey and jacket, except I rode away when the light changed to green. Figured out I’d been stung in the next block, and only had a few blocks to the office. Zipped open my jacket, nothing. Zipped open my jersey (did I mention they were both zipped all the way to my chin?), and dead yellow jacket fell out onto the ground.

    And do you think the first aid kit here at the office had any bee sting stuff? Nope. Good thing I’m not allergic. But it still itches every now and then.

    That’s all I got. :) Love the Dave Matthews story!

  113. Comment by Teebone | 10.4.2007 | 11:06 am

    I won’t pretend to have read all of the comments above, but of the one’s I’ve read there seems to be a common theme – sex and nudity. I shall follow suit.
    Several years ago, I was working with a group of young men to help them earn their cycling merit badge. As you may or may not know, this requires a 30 mile and a 50 mile bike ride. We decided to do the 30 in the mountains and the 50 on the road. We also decided that both rides should be largely downhill. Our downhill mountain bike ride was to start on the ridgeline between Strawberry reservoir and Spanish fork canyon and end up in Spanish Fork City. This route took us down a piece of singletrack called “fifth water”. As some of you probably know, there are several hot springs up this canyon that attract all sorts of bathers. ALL sorts, including the men who enjoy hiking to and from the springs wearing nothing but hiking boots and backpacks (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Our kids ran into just such men… literally… ran into! It wasn’t pretty – funny, but not pretty.

  114. Comment by Kim | 10.4.2007 | 11:09 am

    As I am writing this it is obvious I survived the encounter, but during the time I wasn’t so sure I would.

    One cold fall night I was doing a night riding with a male friend in the Pandapas area outside Blacksburg, Virginia. We stumbed upon a big bonfire party of about 20 teens with several 4-wheel drives parked all around on a fire road section of the trail. Instead of back-tracking 4 miles to get to the end of our ride we decided to pass by the party in the edge of the woods just off the trail in the darkness.

    We turned off our lights and waited until the timing seemed good. As far as we could tell no one had seen us. We had about 1/4 mile to go to the trailhead and hoped that we could cover the distance without any trouble. About 200 yards into the run a full beer can whizzed by me, then another, then another. I rode hard, until I felt like my heart would burst. Then I heard the trucks starting and I was sure I would die either from pure exertion, adrenalin overdose or death by the hand of a drunken teen. All I could think about was group think and mob mentality and that I was a girl and that there was no way my companion could protect us. It occured to me too that many people carry guns in thier trucks in the area and it was hunting season. This was BAD.

    It became glaringly apparent that we could not get to the trailhead before the trucks with their spotlights caught us. In the name of survival we knew that we had to get into the woods and that did not mean on our bikes. I ditched my bike in the edge of the dense woods and lost a shoe in the process. From there we ran as fast as would could down off the ridge into the pitch darkness. We took under the downhill side of a large fallen tree. The trucks drove back and forth spotlighting the woods as we called 911.

    Within a half hour the sheriff’s department came to the rescue, busted the party, and let us know it was safe to come out. After another half hour of searching I had both bike and shoe back. The sheriff could not get us and our bikes back to our car so we finished the ride. I shook the whole time and well into the night as I tried to sleep. I sported one very bruised foot for a while, and still to this day I get creeped out on night rides but can’t resist.

  115. Comment by Mike | 10.4.2007 | 11:13 am

    I think I may have left a comment about this before, and it’s reused from my blog… nevertheless…

    This is a long one.

    I’d been having a pretty rough couple of months on the bike. Although my average speed had been higher this year than ever, I’d had plenty of problems – 6 flats in the previous two months, a noisy wheel that refused bike shop diagnosis… but going into the annual 160 mile Ride Across Indiana I felt like I had everything sorted. I had installed new tubes and tires, the bike was shifting nicely, and I finally had gotten over the burnout that had started to creep into my training rides.

    So when my riding partner started to worry about the ride, I tried to calm him down; we were going to be riding with people that were a bit faster than us, but I felt like we had the training in to stick with the pack. And we did out of the gate – from the start we were moving at 23+, but closer to 25 mph. We rode through Terre Haute with the police escort, and as we made the turn onto Route 40 the pack split up a bit, but the lead pack was within our sights.

    We had caught on with a group of cyclists from a local bike shop – about ten of us in a double paceline, me on the back at about twelve miles in…. and then the deer ran across the road and collided with my bicycle, breaking my front wheel, twisting my stem, throwing my bicycle across a lane, throwing me onto the pavement, cracking my helmet, and leaving me with road rash across my back, and scabs on my wrist, knee and ankle.

    I couldn’t really tell you how it happened… I heard someone call out “Deer!”, I saw the deer and the next thing I knew I was trying to pull myself out of the traffic lane. Someone picked up my bike and pulled it to the side of the road, and my riding partners stopped to make sure I was ok. I told them to go on, thinking that I was hurting but ok, not realizing the extent of the damage… as I gathered my wits I considered trying to get back onto the bike, then realized my wheel was destroyed. I called my support vehicle and sat on the side of the road watching the remaining 80% of the pack go by.

    I guess the odd thing about the crash is that I still don’t know what happened exactly – I took a look at my helmet, and read what other people had to say about the rumors going around at the bike ride, I’ve gathered this (maybe): I hit the deer, flipping the bike and myself forward (I remained clipped in), landing on the left rear side of my head (thank you, helmet), then my left shoulder, across my back to my right hip and leg and finally foot. Then I did a bit of skidding.

    The bike went to the bike shop, with a tore up new Specialized Toupe saddle (which I had bought a month earlier – so much for that $160), a taco’ed front wheel, a bent steering tube and handlebars, a broken right brifter… you can see where this is going – TOTALED. I loved that bike!

    I called my cousin the insurance adjuster to see if by any chance she thought I might be covered for deer collision – as it turns out, even insurance people laugh at other’s misfortune. And of course there’s no coverage for deer collision.

    So I was out a bike and overtrained for a summer without any more large events… but at least plenty of people offered to buy me deer whistles for my next bike. And the nice folks in charge of the ride did include me on the time sheet – it reads “DNF – Deered”.

  116. Comment by Mark Riggs | 10.4.2007 | 11:50 am

    I was on my morning commute to work at 5:30 a.m. My morning commute starts with a rather steep 3 mile descent from close to the top of Palos Verdes. I have a Cat-Eye LCd light that works OK but only gives me this very narrow range of visibility out about 15-20 feet max. Warmer mornings I always have to be cautious because of the frequent critters that are just wrapping up there nocturnal forraging. I came off a curvy descent and was proceeding into the only flat 1/4 mile section. This part is very dark since the estate houses are very spread out amongs the steep side of the hill with no street lights(Via Del Monte). Also the side of the road is thick with folliage. Anyhow I see something running fast as hell across the road just within my lights. Maybe 15 feet. I’m doing around mid upper 20s. Then before I could even comprehend what it was I see out the corner of my eye in very faint light the same sized thing which side rams my rear wheel so hard I side skidded about 3-5 inches – enough to feel like I was going down and this thing wanted me to. Well I didn’t and I just continued on caustiously feeling slightly like I just escaped being prey. As I thought back to it I am pretty sure that they were raccoons in a full sprint. We have a bumper crop of them this year in the area. And I see them frequently on other sections of the road. They were either fighting, playing who knows. If you have ever seen raccoons run from fear, such as fighting, you know they can move like little bears in full assault mode. It could not have been a possum, skunk the other common critters. We do have foxes but I have not seen them in a while. Oh yeah, whatever it was I hope it came out OK because it made some good contact with my spokes as it hit.

  117. Comment by Thom | 10.4.2007 | 12:54 pm

    So I was just riding along past an Amish farm one day when I hear a horse neigh loudly. I cast my gaze towards the source just in time to see the poor brute bust out of his barn, jump the fence, knocking down the top pole in the process, and gallop down the road in front of me. This was one of those large, powerful horses that pull heavy loads, and I was surprised how high he could jump. I slammed on the brakes and slowly turned around, hoping not to alarm him any more than I apparently already had. “Uh…I think I scared your horse. Sorry!” was all I could think to say to the annoyed owner as I left the scene. I have not ridden down that road since.

    My next encounter with an Amish horse was a little more dangerous. I was just rounding a downhill corner and starting a sprint when I noticed an Amish buggy coming the other way. The smart thing to do would have been to sit down and coast by carefully — but that would mean missing this sprint! So on I stupidly forged for another two pedal strokes, whereupon the horse spooked and started running in circles in the middle of the road. I slammed on the brakes while the Amishman struggled to regain control of his steed. It looked like a collision for sure — but somehow I squeaked by without harm to me, the horse or the Amishman, who very graciously accepted my apologies.

  118. Comment by the weak link | 10.4.2007 | 1:27 pm

    Speaking of the Amish, I once came upon an Amish horse and buggy being ridden by a mon and her little kid.

    “How cool would it be to draft an Amish?” I thought, so I pulled up right behind the buggy.

    However, the little kid, riding shotgun, kept looking back. I swear he looked like the kid from “A.I.”.

    The sight of this Amish kid looking like a Mecha and giving me the stink-eye was too much. So I dropped them.

  119. Comment by Gordon in Melbourne | 10.4.2007 | 2:43 pm

    WombatK, I didn’t have much luck with the eyes. Bicycyle Victoria was promoting them a few years back. The other morning I was chatting with a guy who was using zip-ties that stuck up from his helmet about 10cm…to no avail.

    Dont get me wrong here but damn that protected species rule, ’cause I reckon a cyclist will get hurt or worse when you get the living bejesus scared out of you by one of those buggers in traffic.

  120. Comment by cyclechic | 10.4.2007 | 4:37 pm

    I’ve been contemplating whether or not this story should be allowed as an entry to this particular contest. Would this have happened had I not been a cyclist…no. Is it a surreal experience that occurred because of cycling…yes. Was I physically on my bike…no. You decide if it counts.

    I had just finished a particularly challenging ride up Page Mill Road to the coast and back around (for those of you from the bay area). Part way home I decided that I desperately needed to pick up some Gatorade and a few other things from our local Safeway Grocery Store. Here I am in my Pink Lemonade Fat Cyclist Jersey and this guy walks up to me and says…”So…do you ride?” My immediate instinct was to say “No…I just really like the way I look in Spandex” but I politely said “Yes I do. Are you a cyclist?” He said not really but that he was going to go on a Mountain Bike Ride the next day. The guy was kind of cute and the lady at the cash register was just standing there waiting for a price check or something so I continued to talk to the guy. At this point I ask him if he has a Mountain Bike or if he’s just going to rent one. He said that he has a nice Mountain Bike at home but that he hadn’t been on it for two years. I told him that he should probably look at the bike before tomorrow and make sure the tires are still ok and his chain will probably need lubing. He said that he didn’t really know how to maintain bikes and started asking questions about chain maintenance. God…now that I’m writing this I’m realizing how stupid I was. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had agreed to help him prepare his bike for the next day.

    Later that afternoon, I met him at his place and then we drove over to the LBS to pick up supplies. We had a great dinner and were really hitting it off well. As we were driving back to his place we had a conversation about how much we love our cars (omen). Apparently, he was a little too into the conversation because before he knew it he had hit the fence going into his property with a crunch. This guy completely flipped out. He couldn’t even get his door open to check on the car. I leaned over, unlocked his door for him, and got out of the car to assess the damage. He was epileptic with fear. I told him that everything would be ok. He drove up his yard and ran upstairs. After a few moments of sitting there, I decided to go check on him. He was on the phone crying with his dad!!! Did I mention that this guy was 34 years old?!?!

    I probably should have left at that moment but instead I found his Mountain Bike and an old rag in his garage and decided to lube his bike for him and change his tires. Once that was done, the guy still had not come down so I grabbed his new saddle bag and attached it to the bike for him. At this point, my patience was wearing thin so I went upstairs to find the guy still sulking on the phone. I got in my car and went home. The next day the guy calls me like nothing happened. It turns out he rode for less than 20 minutes before he fell off his bike. He thought that he had broken his hip or something. After pointing out that if he had broken his hip, he probably wouldn’t have been able to ride back or get home without excruciating pain, I told him that I didn’t think I wanted to go out with him anymore.

  121. Comment by liketobike | 10.4.2007 | 4:39 pm

    As an animal lover I was horrified to almost run over two squirrels in as many weeks. Then I realized that a squirrels brain is really not that big and running out into the road and doing a “spread eagle” in front of a bike is just not really all that smart. Still I was glad there were no real mishaps and I lived to tell the tale. What would happen if you ran over a squirrel anyway?

  122. Comment by Brie | 10.4.2007 | 4:45 pm

    Yes I am an Aussie here too. So my story involves magpies, noisy miners (another bird not the talkative ‘geologists) and a particular lizard the eastern water dragon.
    The magpies swoop on you only to protect their territory, swooping birds is one thing but running after you is another, the running is done by the plovers (their nests are on the ground). Noisy miners are cheeky little birds, they like to gang up and swoop on crows or people – I think just to show that they are strong.

    Anyway to the story. Spring time is here, out on my regular ride (for the Brisbane folk it was just the River Loop). As I’m going along a well know area for one particular magpie, the bird swoops on me twice and for its third time it goes a little too close and gets his beak stuck in my helmet – not the strap the actual helmet. Needless to say I’m shaking my head trying to get him loose (and away from my skull – it was a painful blow), he’s flapping wildly not knowing what is going on. I had to stop the bike and hold myself steady to help him let go. Thank you to a couple walking their dog to witness it all. So after a few mins sprinting away once the magpie was free, I stopped to collect my thoughts and the sign of any war wounds. On the ride back home I was riding along the river, and that is where a number of lizards are perched high on their front legs to warm their bodies. When you are riding along, they usually get out of the way. Not today, the poor little blighter didn’t run off quickly enough, and he got caught on my wheel and bounced off. So not only did I have a magpie that morning get stuck in my helmet an eastern water dragon was also left with physical and emotional scars.

    Ride safe, and always I’m amazed by the wildlife….now to experience the deers, squirrels and other non Aussie animals.

  123. Comment by matt | 10.4.2007 | 5:16 pm

    Out spinning on a Vermont country road
    Practicing breathing- in the nose out the mouth
    Wasp follows suit
    I spat him out before I knew what hit me
    but the irritation in my nasal cavity didn’t lie.

  124. Comment by Miles Archer | 10.5.2007 | 6:21 am

    Too many stories to read them all. Perhaps you could excerpt the best ones.

    Anyway. Advice to people with squirrel problems. I too have encountered suicidal squirrels. There’s one stretch of N Gate Rd on Mt Diablo right near the bottom that is infested with ground squirrels. It’s a pretty straight fast stretch with a slight uphill section half a mile later. Great for going fast.

    Anyway, my strategy is to aim for the squirrels. I figure, it’s like a NASCAR crash. Aim for where they are and they won’t be there when you get to them. It’s not foolproof as they sometimes dart out into the road, do a cartoon style double take and freeze.

  125. Comment by Kevin Brady | 10.5.2007 | 6:51 am

    Okay Fatty…what did I ever do to you to cause you to put such Voodoo on me?

    Last night a few of us were clipping along into the wind when I heard a shout that sounded like “CAR” to me at first. When I went to check my mirror, I tilted my head a little and out of the corner of my eye I seen something flying at us. It seems that it was NOT “CAR” that I heard, but “FORE!”. A golf ball hit on the pavement not five feet in front of us and you could actually hear the spin of the ball as it whirred over our heads.

    Another near death experience on my bike…and a day after Fatty’s post asking for stories…coincidence? I THINK NOT!

  126. Comment by Bonzai Buckaroo | 10.5.2007 | 9:36 am

    I live in Washington, DC. A few years ago (several months after 9/11), I was riding on the Capital Crescent Trail when I heard a loud, deep rumble. Since the trail is tree lined, I could not see what was causing the noise. As the noise arrived at my location, I got a look at a huge, black disk-like structure flying just over the trees about a hundred feet ahead and a couple of hundred feet above me on the trail. It was flying low and slow as they say. Although it did not hit me, I was floored. It really looked like a UFO. I later found out that the object was some type of military airplane flying out of Andrews Air Force Base.

  127. Comment by Michelle | 10.5.2007 | 10:23 am

    Moose, bears, spruce hens, mountain goats are regularly seen while mountaining biking here in Alaska. The weirdest I have seen though, was a fresh King Salmon in the middle of a trail, quite far away from the river.

    We were mountain biking down in the huge riverbed of the Matanuska River, a river which changes routes often in this huge riverbed. It was a beautiful Alaskan summer day, which have sort of a surreal quality to them. We are going fast down a trail with our bear bells jingling to forewarn preditors of our passage.

    Right there, in the middle of the trail, is a huge king salmon. We stop, puzzled as to how it got there. It was freshly killed but didn’t have any signs of a bear or eagle catching it and dropping it in the trail when it heard our approach. We were talking and trying to figure how to get it home (no need to waste a fresh king salmon) when a scraggly guy decked out in camo from head to toe with a salmon net stepped out of the bushes. He said the fish was his and we were not going to take it….Hey, no problem, it’s yours. He was a poacher, fishing illegally and he thought we were Fish and Game so he dropped the evidence and took off into the woods. He was kind of scary so we promised not to say anything to anyone….which I haven’t….until now!

  128. Comment by lmouse | 10.5.2007 | 12:53 pm

    Close encounters of the wierd kind? Remember the movie “Duel”? Well, there’s this hay truck that seems to have it in for me…..

    Nah, must be my imagination.

  129. Comment by Ray | 10.5.2007 | 6:34 pm

    Lots of Australians have already mentioned Magpies, but I think some rear-facing helmet cam video might explain it better:

    The cameraman has nine (!) magpies he has to pass on hi way to work, including two pairs.

  130. Comment by Maile in Florida | 10.6.2007 | 6:35 am

    I was riding home on the local bike path around dusk, when I saw a stray dog ahead of me strolling along the side of the trail. At least, I thought it was a stray dog–boxer, perhaps. Small, skinny boxer, short tail, long legs. But, something was off; the lower legs were really furry, kind of like a Clydesdale’s lower legs (the actual Clydesdale horse, not the bike riders, though the bike riders have been known to have furry legs, too), and his feet were huge (we’ll not go into the part about bike riders on that one). He didn’t hear me coming and kept just strolling along, not a care in the world. My rule is to make some kind of noise to alert animals of my presence, since I really don’t want panicking deer or even squirrels running in front of my bike or smashing into me. So, when I was about 10 yards behind the ‘dog’, I said “on your left” in a quiet voice. The ‘dog’s’ head immediately swivelled around, and I found myself staring into the face of a bobcat. I thought bobcats were short and dumpy, not tall and thin–but there was no mistaking the face. He freaked, cut ninety degrees right and disappeared into the brush as if he’d never been there. Wish I’d've had my camera with me…

  131. Comment by RALFIEBOY | 10.6.2007 | 8:21 am

    I was riding alone in late summer on some singletrack in Ottawa, Canada. I was whipping along and then heard a very large “whoop whoop whoop” sound and felt claws digging into my buttocks. I stood and hammered while feelings my lycra shorts shredding and the thumping of wings on my back.

    It was a pheasant and I guess I had strayed too close to its nest. I had to ride home on the shoulder of a major roadway with my ass hanging out of my shorts.

  132. Comment by Mathew | 10.6.2007 | 10:36 pm

    I started riding about 4 years ago when I had, in a spark of Post-Tour-Lance-Passion, bought a road bike. I live in Seattle so I started riding the Burke-Gilman trail around the lake every day, chasing down families and eventually, commuters.

    There is a bend near Bothell that I love, because its fairly technical, (i.e. lots of joggers and children) and had some great blind corners at 20 mph.

    I was taking one of those great corners when I saw a rooster in the middle of the bike lane. I started to slow down, as did a guy who was a little more than equal distance away.

    Since he was on his side of the lane, and I was on mine, I realized that when I reach the rooster, I would send him under the wheels of the other guy. I slowed down as much as I could, except the rooster, well aware that doom was coming, but unaware that it came from both directions, decided to make a break for it, discovering in the process that this might not be his day.

    He was pulled through my front wheel once, with an explosion of feathers, and swearing (his and mine).

    I leaned over the front of my bike, lifted my wheel up and rotated it back until he cleared my fork and grabbed him out by his tail and eased him out until he started whipping around at me.

    The other biker wisely advised me to “Let him go.” and while I wanted to think of something snappy to say to him, I was too busy trying to get away from a pissed-off rooster who continued to walk after me.

    I think the rooster was fine, as I have seen him after, and other cyclists I know always know right where I am talking about then it comes up.

  133. Comment by gmgs31 | 10.7.2007 | 1:39 pm

    I live in the Northwest and generally the drivers mix fairly well with cyclists, but every now and again there is the driver that will go out of his way to lash out. Just the other day I was riding home from work. My commute ends with a mile and a half climb and I was almost to the top when an old white van slowed down right next to me, which made me nervous. They rolled down the front passenger window and I was prepared to have something thrown at me (physically or verbally). I noticed that the van had at least six people in it, and this got me even more worried as I began to think about the mob mentality. The driver yelled, “excuse me!” and I ignored him, hoping he would just leave me alone. The van was still RIGHT NEXT TO ME and he repeated, “excuse me!” I looked over and responded hesitantly, “yes?” He asked me, “were you riding your bike by the library in Bellevue?” I responded, “yes.” All of the people in the van burst out in laughter. The driver said no one would believe him that he saw me in Bellevue and that I had made it all this way (xx miles) before they caught up to me. It blew their minds, both that someone would ride a bike that far AND that it would be faster than driving. Then all of the folks in the van waved at me as they drove off. It really was another great reminder of why I love commuting to work by bike.

  134. Comment by gmgs31 | 10.7.2007 | 1:40 pm

    I was camping with my family up near Mt Rainier, and rolled out of the campsite at 6:30 for an early morning bike ride. The campground was still quiet and there was a cold, light mist in the air. I slowed down at a stop sign as I was exiting the campground and was making a left turn when I looked up and nearly ran into a herd of Elk. I was about five feet away from the closest one and we both looked up and saw each other at the same time. Both startled, we backed off cautiously. Talk about getting my heart rate up in a hurry! It was an awesome way to start a beautiful ride.

  135. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » 3 Surreal Stories…And a Haiku | 10.7.2007 | 8:24 pm

    [...] Last week, I ran a contest asking for you to relate your surreal moments on bikes. Really, it was just a lame ploy to get you all to write my blog for me while I try to hammer out a big-deal report for my job. [...]

  136. Comment by d | 10.9.2007 | 12:30 pm

    biking to work on a college campus one day, I noticed a spider crawling around on the handlebars. I tried to bend down and blow it off the handlebars. Immediately after this, I hit a parked car.

    Spider survived the crash (well, until I got up and stomped on it). Both bike and car were unharmed (although I wiped a large amount of dirt off the car with my shirt upon collision).

  137. Comment by Remy | 10.11.2007 | 5:41 pm

    Three of us were biking down a major thoroughfare in a dense semi-urban area in morning traffic in the San Fernando Valley to get to our real ride. From out of nowhere, from the double yellow to our left came an enormous rooster. My companion didn’t see it until the last moment, hit the rooster, explosion of feathers, companion went flying as though she had hit a large boulder. The rooster ran off, my fell beautifully and managed only lots of bruises and scrapes.

    Six or seven cars stopped to make sure we were okay. One man ran after the rooster.

  138. Comment by Tim | 10.29.2007 | 4:43 am

    Although I’ve never hit or been hit by a bird, I’ve ingested so many bugs I’ve lost count. I always now keep a bit of water in my bottle in case I need to wash a fly or a bee down my throat.

    My most beautiful encounter with wildlife however happened on a night ride. A small bat briefly landed on my mouth. It couldn’t have been there more than half a second, but I could feel the warmth on my face for some time. Beautiful.

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  145. Comment by Angie | 02.3.2011 | 9:05 am

    When I was training for a mt bike race at Bear Creek Ski Resort in Macungie, PA, I ran over the same opossum 3 times. I was coming up a long fire road climb on my mt bike. It was out in the open where they cut a swatch through the forest to put the ski lifts. I was crossing this open area with a slight uphill, diagonal direction. As I was climbing in a very easy gear, I suddenly saw a baby opossum barreling down the mountain toward me. He had been surprised from his hiding spot by my husband who slightly ahead of me. So this opossum comes running down the hill on a collision course with me! He intended to cross in front of me, but he must have misjudged my speed. (I go so fast up long hills, NOT!) I got to him before he could cross my front wheel. He hit the side of my front wheel and bounced back up the hill about a foot. This turned my wheel downhill and my bike, of course followed the new trajectory. Meanwhile, the opossum saw that he could run between my two wheels and tried to do so. Only my new trajectory caused him to hit the back of my front wheel as he tried to pass under me. This turned my front wheel back uphill again. This new change in trajectory caused him the hit the front of my back wheel as he tried once again to pass under my bike. All this time, I was shrieking and trying to avoid him while avoiding falling. I managed to unclip my feet and I kept trying to keep them in the air so he wouldn’t freak out and bite my shin. All this took place in the time it took to roll to a stop on the uphill climb. The little opossum finally got free of me and raced down the mountain, making little opossum noises all the way. I stopped shrieking and told my husband all that had transpired while his back was turned. It sounded too far fetched to believe, but he had seen the opossum when it got scared out of its hiding spot. The moral of the story is: If you don’t want an accident with an opossum, don’t go so fast uphill!


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