Glass and nails….glass and nails….glass…glass…glass and…
Now that was random.
Hmm. Where is the rest of him (or her)?
I took a nano-second scan for the rest of the body. It was nowhere in my line of sight. It would be the fourth roadkill sighting (not including a deer that also met an unfortunate end) of the morning and I had been on the bike for less than an hour.
So…Hubby and I are attempting to get our sorry butts into shape for our upcoming cycling vacation in Scotland. I’ve been across the pond many times but this will be my first visit to Scotland and our first across the pond cycling vacation. We are woefully behind on training for cycling miles and miles for seven consecutive days.
At this point, it is what it is, I tell myself.
Our plan for the morning was a forty-mile distance. Though it began refreshingly cool I struggled to enjoy the crisp spring air as I found it difficult amid the din of highway traffic. Anxiety and tension pulled on every fiber of my being as eighteen-wheelers screamed past me. I kept hyper vigilant for traffic as a myriad of obstacles such as potholes, road debris (lots of glass and nails) and downed tree branches from a recent storm that littered some of the bicycle paths and road shoulders.
As I peddled I found my head and heart were back in Southern California where cycling was mostly joy-filled. From spectacular ocean views and frequent dolphin sightings, post-ride coffee and muffins with my circle of cycling buddies to year-round perfect weather, it was truly a cycling paradise. Sure, there was traffic to contend with but somehow, even with all the cars, it was much more enjoyable than my present moment.
At a stoplight, I take a sip of water and turn to see that hubby has caught up behind me.
“I’m not having much fun at this today,” I tell him.
He is surprised. “What do you mean? he asks as he squirts water into his mouth from his bottle.
“The noise of this traffic is almost deafening. It’s just not relaxing…not like it was in California.”
“There was plenty of traffic there too.” he reminds me.
“Yes, but not all these monstrously huge eighteen-wheelers,” I reply.
We’re off again as the light turns green. We turn off the main road onto a designated bike path. It’s somewhat narrow and trees hang low over the path so we’re having to duck every now and then to avoid getting slapped in the face by a tree branch. I’m again well ahead of hubby when I see not to far ahead of me that there is a painfully-thin elderly man leaning against a rail. His walker is on the other side of the path. For a moment I think that he is in trouble but as I get closer I can see he’s fine. He’s smoking a honking big cigar and looks to be happy as a clam.
The rest of the ride went smooth enough…save for a mini melt-down on my part. And yes…of course It was dog-related. So dear reader, if you’ve followed a tenth of my thoroughly uninteresting life you’ll remember that my years of cycling in Alabama were so beset with dog issues that I pretty much gave up on the bike for two years. My beauty of a bike languished in the garage collecting dust and I’m sure she pined for her Southern California days as much as I did.
So here we were, with around ten more miles to home…We had already made the turn-around on the bike path back when I spot a woman walking with her dog. The dog, a large brown lab, was not right at her side and was not on a leash. In fact, said leash was in the woman’s hand whilst the dog frolicked in the weeds directly on the other side of the path from it’s handler. I slowed my pace considerably and loudly announced my approach as in: “On your left.”
Hmm. Let me try this again. Slowing more….I now shout: “Coming on your left.”
The woman turns her head. Ah. Okay, Whew….she sees me.
…but she does absolutely nothing to contain her dog. Hubby has caught up now and is directly behind me. “The dog is off-leash,” he says calm as can be. I’m certain he knows that my head is about to explode.
“No shit,” I mumble under my breath trying hard not to let fear overwhelm.
As I cautiously pass the woman, I was fairly sharp in my rebuke (but without expletives, so that’s good….right?) I added, as I peddled away something to the effect that though I’m not confrontational by nature if her unleashed dog would have come within a half-inch of me I’d be calling the police. I’m sure she did not quake in her boots but dog’s off-leash when cyclists are present is not something to take lightly. It can cause considerable harm to a cyclist who is clipped in. I still recall a huge hematoma one cycling buddy received on her thigh (requiring a hospital stay, I might add) as a result of a dog giving chase. And, ever-fresh in my mind is the day I received a healthy dose of pepper spray to the eyes as a cyclist buddy in front of me attempted to deter being attacked by a large dog.
Don’t get me wrong: I am a dog-lover….after all, The Poodle is the four-legged love of my life. And, I love to see pooches happily running free and unrestrained (like the beauty pictured below courtesy of a photo by Jamie Street) but there is a time and a place for untethered freedom and if for nothing else, when you see people on bikes, one should have the courtesy (and commonsense) to immediately properly restrain their pet. Dogs are animals after all. One never knows when they’ll get a bee in their bonnet to do something out of their normal behavior pattern! Like attack a cyclist perhaps.
When we rolled into our driveway, I let out a long, slow sigh of relief.
“Another ride in the books and thankful to arrive without a fall,” I said to hubby.
“Amen to that and no flats,” he replies.
Ah yes…no flat tires. There is bliss in that!