Monday, April 29, 2013

When The Dog Bites

My back sprain was just seven days old and still pretty painful the morning of my April permanent.  It took me almost an hour to get out of bed that morning.  After stretching and a hot bath, I gingerly pulled up my new compression bibs. It seemed illogical to ride at all, much less to ride all day.  But I was determined to continue my quest for the next randonneur status: R12 (2).   In the end, it simply came down to doing the only thing I know - ride.

My riding partner, who couldn't care less about trophies or status awards, assured me that we could turn back at the first sign of trouble.  He also, generously, dubbed the ride as "Maria's perm" and patiently softpedaled while I struggled to keep an average pace of 12.5 miles per hour.

A few blocks from the Grand Central Bakery start, I noticed a broken egg in the bike lane.  It reminded me of a story Tyler Hamilton tells in his book The Secret Race.  Something about a coach viewing the athletes almost as disposable - toss a dozen eggs against the wall and keep the ones that don't break.

And that's how the day went for me.  Riding on eggshells and unable to take a hand off the bars, even to signal, I promised myself I wouldn't break.  I tried to use the Wheatland Ferry crossing as a rest stop, but it took halfway across the river just to dismount my bike.   Getting back on was a similar challenge.  I continued, egged on by any egg references I could get my eyes on.  And I took even more pills and pep-talked the crap out of myself.

We'd ridden many of these roads many times, so it felt like home territory.  Stag Hollow gravel was fun.  That's where the first dog of the day chased us.  I forgot where we met the second one, although I recall yelling NO at it.  The third one, I'll never forget.

We were on Stringtown Road, in the middle of farm country, coming up a small rise.  Two dogs, a pit bull mix and a white lab, came running at us from across the street.  I rode my fastest, a paltry 15 miles per hour, but failed to outrun the pit bull.  It grabbed on to my calf with its teeth.  A stream of swearwords later, we stood on the grass talking with the dog's owner.  Molly May was her name.  May is short for mayhem, naturally. 

The skin was broken and the bite smarted, but my tights escaped without damage.  It was almost refreshing to feel pain from somewhere besides my back for once.  So, we pedaled on to Gales Creek.  Downed cans of (medicinal!) beer at the Shell station before heading back to town. Lots of bullets were dodged that day.  With my back in that condition, if I had fallen when tangling with the dog, I don't know if I'd have gotten back up.  But I didn't fall.  And I didn't break. 


  1. Oh, my! We don't have many loose dogs here, but it's a problem when I ride out in the country.

    Did you get information about whether the dogs rabies immunization was up to date? I don't know how common it is in Oregon, but my dad had to take shots as a child in rural Louisiana. His own dog that bit him and yes, it had rabies. :(

  2. Sorry about your dog trouble. I report them to the County Humane Society (on speed dial) and the next time they are chained up and barking on their porches. Dogs only chase me once. I recommend you report this damned mutt as well, (I mean the owner).

    I'm riding RACC, Columbia Gorge Explorer and Mid Valley Bike Club Loop Tour Number 1 June 22 to 30.

    Doug Morgan

  3. Hmm... I think that the broken eggs were an omen.

  4. I would like to have been an egg on the wall for that conversation with Ms Mayhem.

  5. They say when a dog chases you, don't run. But when you're in that moment, I don't think you can remember to sit and level your gaze with the dog's eyes as a sign of respect. But no, don't challenge a stare-off! Anyway, it's a good thing that the bite wasn't deep and that you got to talk with the owner. Laura@Christensen Young & Associates

  6. Molly May was a sweet name. It seems that the dog wasn’t as lovely as her name. That was really unfortunate on your part. Although you were still lucky that the bite didn’t cause you a lot more trouble. I hope that this will be the last time for you to have such encounter. Take care and keep safe always!

    Cheryl Bush @ CWCLawFirm

    1. Turns out Molly May was short for Molly Mayhem, Cheryl! Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment. The dog bite turned out to be very minor.