Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nature Calls

In spite of missing my long ride last Sunday, I did manage to eek out 150 miles last week. These rides haven't been without incident. You'd think a bike path would be a nice, easy trip, but now that the temperatures have heated up, Mother Nature has been throwing new sliders into the mix and because the path sometimes winds through protected areas, the number of people-critter encounters has escalated recently.

Runaway Chuck
My first encounter was a rodent encounter. This one was a woodchuck crossing the path. I kept thinking of the Geico ad "Hey, you dang woodchucks!" and wondered how much wood they could actually chuck. The next thing I always think of when I see wildlife is "rabies" and the intrigue of gazing at nature is over just like that.

Suicidal Munk
The next rodent encounter was the inevitable chipmunk kill. It had been a busy day for Alvin and the crew and I had done my best to dodge around the chipmunks that darted in front of my wheel. The one I didn't miss tried to run between my front and rear wheel. Boy, that poor little thing flattened under me so fast and I felt horrible. I don't know if something or someone else came along and pushed it into the bushes but I looked for it on my return and found nothing... except the rider lawnmower guy. Ack! My husband has a picture that he took years ago of me on a camping trip getting a chipmunk to beg for peanuts and now... this. Two weeks later and it still haunts me.

Gaggle Me
There is a family of geese nesting near the path. On this particular day, they decided that the path was a better place to hang instead of the grass. There was a slight through-way that I could take but it put me between the parents and the goslings. To ride or not to ride? Ultimately, it was the hesitation that doomed me. I eventually decided to stop for them but forgot to tell my feet. Still clipped in, I weebled, I wobbled, and I managed to unclip before I fell down but not before my front wheel whip-lashed and the bike began sliding out from under me. I saved the bike before it hit the ground but I've got some nasty bruises on my shins for my save. As I finally rode past, one of the parents hissed at me.

Two for the Road
The most recent encounter came during my first hill workout. There is a plot of land still undeveloped on Route 106 and I was hearing some very noisy squirrel activity the first two times I rode past. The third time up, I saw two deer standing in the middle of the road, staring at me like I was nuts. I am nuts but that's beside the point. I noticed that they were close to the top of the hill and if a motorist was coming over, they probably wouldn't have enough time to stop before hitting one.

Inching my way up, I started waving at the deer and whispering, "Move over!" but they just stood there. Yeah, I'm climbing this hill and waving my hands (why am I whispering?) and these deer are staring at me like my ANSI yellow shirt is giving them the "headlight effect." My slow-poke pace told them I was no threat and I would get within 20 feet of these deer before they went back into the thick brush. The next thing I thought of was "Lyme Disease," and that was probably a contributing factor to not trying to push for a fourth lap. At least they made it back safely that time.

Boy, I can't wait to jump back into the lake.