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.
I got 134 replies.
That, my friends, is a lot of stories.
Clearly, my ruse to get in an easy post has backfired: I have spent hours reading your stories, probably another hour choosing a few finalists, and I’ll still have to go to the post office to mail out the prizes. Yes, prizes — I decided I didn’t want to choose just one winner.
I swear, I need an intern. Anyone want to be the Fat Cyclist intern? I’ll let you do all the stuff I don’t like to do. I won’t pay you, but I’ll make up for it by also not giving you any credit. Doesn’t that sound great?
So, out of all the great stories — a surprising number of which were about suicidal deer and rodents and evil magpies in Australia — I picked a horror story, a sublime story, a bizarre story, and a haiku.
All are excellent examples of the surreal.
When Teenagers Attack
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.
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.
Then, 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 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 their 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 cover 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 sheriffâ€™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 canâ€™t resist.
The Owl’s Leading Now
by Phil in VA
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. Itâ€™s a nice, easy, double-track downhill, which is good because weâ€™re tired and itâ€™s already dark in the woods and we donâ€™t have lights. Itâ€™s the time of day my Grandfather used to call â€œrabbit dark.â€
Cruising along, quiet, lost in our own thoughts, when an owl silently overtakes us from behind and drops in about 20 feet ahead. Heâ€™s coasting too, matching our pace, about 12 feet above the trail. Heâ€™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, Iâ€™d love to hear it.
A Simple Question
I was propositioned by a hooker â€¦ while on my bike, waiting at a stop light, on the way home from work.
I didnâ€™t even know what to say.
Lucky Squirrel, Unlucky Rider
Riding side by side
Chris never saw the squirrel
Face Plant Squirrel lives
Congratulations to the Winners
I don’t think I’ve ever given away four things with one contest before, but I’m going to this time. Winners, please email me with your address, the size of T-shirt you wear, and the size of socks (S/M and L/XL are your only two options). What I send you will depend on what I have available.
PS: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever posted a poem as a blog entry, which is a shame, because I am an awesome poet.