Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nature vs. Cyclist

This spring and summer have been amusing as I have had the opportunity to hear tales of random "nature" happenings to cyclists in and out of the area. Unfortunately, I've had my own nature versus cyclist incident, so I can confirm that nature really does seem ready to take on (take out?) cyclists. Random reports of quick and vicious downpours of hail or rain seem somewhat common, and of course in early spring, ice/snow can sometimes become an issue (depending on the cyclist and/or his/her gear), but the incidents reported here have nothing to do with weather anomalies.
Nature has become the bicycle
*Image here
The first incident shared with me came from an acquaintance who was out for a leisurely ride. She's not normally one to ride a bike, but was experimenting with a newly acquired ride when out of nowhere a dog came running towards her. Her immediate reaction was to scream (because the dog scared her, and because he, as reported, was "like Cujo on steroids"). She began to pedal faster, attempting to get away, but the dog gained on her quickly. While she managed to get away unharmed (what worked in this case was actually stopping the bike - though I've heard from others this doesn't always do the trick), she is now horribly afraid to ride again in neighborhoods, preferring to take her bike via car to remote areas to ride.

Another story was reported by Sam when he returned from a club ride with a local group. The group was riding along when out of nowhere, one of the cyclists let out a quick chirp and pulled over. Apparently, a wasp had managed to fly under his arm, into his loose-fitting jersey and was stinging him on the side of his abdomen. A lesson to those of us who prefer looser fitting clothing while riding: perhaps a more fitted top is in order to avoid such incidents.

I've also heard several stories about various animals appearing without warning in front of cyclists (the scariest ones taking place in the dark of night). Everything from prairie dogs and squirrels, to deer and moose, as well as birds that seem unwilling to move (geese and ducks are particularly common on trails in this area), sending cyclists careening off the road/path. Fortunately, no one who has told me their story was hurt too badly (bruises being the worst case scenario).

One cyclists' story involved nothing more than a rock in the road. I can definitely identify with his story because I, myself, have had similar experiences. He was riding down a well-traveled highway when in the distance he spotted what he believed to be a small(ish) rodent. Believing that the animal would move (out of fear) when he got closer, he thought little of it and looked down at his GPS device to see his current rate of travel. By the time he glanced up again, it was too late to realize that what in fact was in front of him was a fairly good sized rock, which ended up taking him to the ground. A bit of a bruised ego, I have no doubt, but he lived to ride another day.

My personal nature v. cyclist moment came just a couple of weeks ago. I don't normally run into problems with nature, so I was taken a bit off guard. I was out for a ride with Sam one weekend when I was approaching the top of a climb. Relieved that I would soon be racing down hill, I began picking up speed. About half way down the most glorious downhill, something struck me directly in the eye. I slowed and pulled off the road, wincing in pain. I couldn't open my eye at all and thought it must have been the biggest rock ever to hit someone in the face (the fact that it was able to bulls eye me was itself miraculous as I was wearing glasses and a visor on my helmet - somehow, it was able to sneak through though). When Sam reached me, he informed me that it was in fact a bee that had smacked me in the eye, and it was now stuck - partially on my eyelid, and partly on the inside of my glasses. The stinging sensation left behind - not from the actual stinger, but merely from impact - won't soon be forgot.

I'm not sure I could have this sort of thing happen again even if I planned it, but let these tales be forewarning to those on a bike. Nature is all around us... and it's ready to strike - especially when least expected.  So, how about you? Any random run-ins with nature this (or prior) cycling seasons? Feel free to share.


  1. About 3 weeks ago I had just departed on a 270 mile trip that was going to take several days to complete. About halfway through the first day, I was alone on a back road when I saw a skunk pop out of the woods and was making its way across the road. As I approached, it stopped dead in its tracks and just looked at me while I nervously pedaled past it, quietly saying, "No! No! Don't! Don't spray me, bro! Don't do it!" It then lowered its tail and scurried across the road to disappear back into the woods. Whew!

    I don't know what I would have done with myself if I'd been sprayed, spending the next 2 days biking and camping out while stinking to high heaven.

    1. I can't imagine what you would've done had you actually been sprayed! Thank goodness you were able to get by unscathed(sprayed).

  2. Lots of kamikaze squirrels in my neck of the woods. I read somewhere that if you bark at them, you can encourage them to scurry out of the way. Since I'm the sort of person who doesn't mind barking at squirrels, that's what I do. :) So far, so good. Because the last thing you want is for a squirrel to run through your wheel. :(

    Canada geese barely move for anyone. Sometimes barking makes them look up. Just have to go slow. Watch out for the slippery poops too. Ugh.

    I've had a bug (not a bee, OMG) hit me in the eye behind my glasses too.

    1. Seems like squirrels and groundhogs love seeing how close I can get before running away at the last minute. I actually love groundhogs, I'm always like, "Hey, buddy!" when I see one.

    2. That's funny. I talk to the prairie dogs around here...maybe this is typical behavior for cyclists?


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