Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ride

It was a perfect day for a ride (for late November). Somehow, it seemed tremendously appropriate when I saw numerous farmers out working the fields, harvesting their corn, wheat, and what-not.
This also gave me pause. We always give thanks for our food, but how often do we give thanks for (or to) our farmers? Not often enough. This is something I’ll have to add to my list of things I’m thankful for.

This moment of introspection was short-lived though. Rounding a slightly uphill, 90 degree right-hand bend into the sun, I saw a large dead dog lying in the center of the road. When I reflexively sighed, “aaawww”, he turned to look at me. Not dead at all, it’s a friendly dog who lives just up the road, sunning himself. He’s a sweet old guy, has never so much as barked at me and today was no exception. Suddenly just ahead there was a rustling and an explosion of dark fur and ferocious barking as his less well-mannered sidekick charged out from the shadows, sun at his back, straight for my front wheel. I braced myself for impact and swerved, but obviously his “attack” was just a bluff. Once my heartbeat returned to normal, I had to chuckle; he had set a perfect trap. He had me going up-hill, sun in my eyes, and distracted by his docile friend napping in the road. Under different circumstances, I would have been someone’s dinner.

I guess I should be thankful he didn’t want to eat me!

I Need a Smaller Camera

As I was getting ready to head out for a bike ride yesterday, I thought about bringing my digital camera, but decided not to, primarily because it doesn’t fit very comfortably into a jersey pocket, plus I was getting a late start and figured I wouldn’t really have time to take pictures, anyway.

Once I got out into the countryside I noted that the birds seemed especially active. First it was groups of Barn Swallows swooping down, time and again to catch bugs, then the Goldfinches were out en masse to flaunt their brilliant summer plumage.

Then as I rounded the sharp left-hand curve riding west on Stewart, there they were. Two fawns, contentedly munching grass in the field to my right, just beyond the split rail fence. They didn’t seem particularly concerned with my presence, so I stopped to watch them for a bit, expecting their mother to come rushing out to escort them to safety at any moment. A few minutes passed, their mother was still nowhere to be seen, and the youngsters’ grazing was actually bringing them closer to me, so I decided to ride a bit further around the curve to give them some space then went back to watching them. A few more minutes passed, a few cars drove by, and the two little deer continued to eat, despite my admonishment that they were supposed to be afraid of me and really should be running away.

Today I went for a ride again; same exact course, same time of day, same weather. The only difference was that today I decided to shoe-horn my camera into my pocket; well, that and the fact that were only a very few run-of-the-mill type birds to be seen, and, of course, no deer.

I did see the same lady walking by the park who just scowled at me yesterday when I said “Howdy” to her. Today I didn’t say anything. She scowled. Maybe I should have taken her picture.

Ahh… Summer!

So, today around 2:30 I took a quick ride to the Post Office; the plan being that when I returned I would eat, change into “bike clothes” then go for a real ride.

The eating and changing clothes part of the plan went real well, then came a big booming clap of thunder, followed almost immediately by torrential rain. This cast the going for a ride part of my plan into doubt.

Undeterred, I checked the various online weather radars at my disposal and estimated that the rain would be over in plenty of time to still get my ride in. Sure enough, the rain didn’t last long and by 6:30 the wind was doing a fine job of drying the roads out.

So, off I went. I’m not sure if it was because of the earlier downpour, the still threatening looking skies, or what, but traffic was surprizingly sparse. Another welcome touch was that the rain had brought the temperature way down. Riding to the Post Office earlier it was in the upper 80’s, after the rain it was a cool 67!

As is often the case, the storm had gotten the wildlife stirred up. I encountered a bunny, and a group of six Goldfinches paralleled my path for about 40 yards or so. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; any ride with Goldfinches is a good ride.

I had intended on going for a nice, leisurely spin, but the ominous, low-hanging, dark gray, foreboding clouds surrounding me on 3 sides added impetus to my pedaling and I got in a good fast ride instead, rushing to get home before the clouds changed their minds.

That’s the sort of “Summer Shower” that I don’t mind, although my opinion changes dramatically when I’m caught out in one of these passing downpours.

Return of Der Doggie Dog and Friend

So, today I’m out for a ride on one of my usual loops. Just as I pass the city limits sign rolling back into town, I see Der Doggie Dog and his young apprentice racing toward their fence to greet me. I swear it’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen either of them, and they seemed just as happy to see me as I was them. I don’t know if it was because they were overcome with joy, or if they forgot the “rules” to our little game during their vacation (or whatever) but instead of racing me down the entire length of the fence they instead headed to the halfway point, leaping around, their whole bodies wagging as I said hello. Glancing back over my shoulder as I rode away, I saw that they were both standing in the corner of their yard, tails wagging like mad, watching me ride away.

It’s not too often I get to say this, but those dogs made my day!

Shat Upon

So, today as I was rolling out on my ride, I happened to glance at the Madonna del Ghisallo medallion which adorns my bike’s stem. At that precise moment my cyclocomputer, stem, and the edge of said medallion were splattered with bird poop.

I’m not sure, but I think there’s a good chance that the little atheistic avian bastard is going to Hell for defiling a religious symbol like that.

I Miss My Buddy

I, like probably most cyclists, have a healthy anxiety/respect/fear for dogs that are allowed to run loose (with very rare and notable exceptions).

On one of my local loops, though, there’s a dog who I consider an old friend. For 5 or 6 years now we’ve played this little game:

As I’m approaching his yard, if I don’t see him lurking about, I’ll call to him as I begin to wind up my sprint (I call him “Fritz” or “Der Doggie Dog”, he’s a German Shepherd). He then carefully judges his speed and angle, charges down the hill to the fence and arrives at the corner of the fence, exactly when I do, at full speed. He then rounds the corner and we race down the fence. This is a house out in the country, so it’s at least a 150 yard dog vs. bike dash. As I ride away (sometimes victorious, sometimes not), he always runs to a good vantage point along the side fence and gives me a few barks. I’ve always taken these as meaning, “good race” and “see you next time”. I haven’t seen him (or his younger protégé) in quite some time. I miss my sprinting partners/buddies.

New Wheels

For those of you wondering about my new wheels, allow me to update you. I picked them up last Monday. Unfortunately, over the weekend I also picked up a flu-bug (or something). I spent the week feeling crummy (to put it very mildly), went to the doctor Thursday, got antibiotics (for the bonus sinus infection, yeehaw!) and cough syrup, then spent this weekend feeling even worse.

So, anyway… I’ve now had the wheels for a week and I’m only just now feeling up to so much as mounting tires on them, nevermind the test-ride.

Here’s a photo of the new front wheel being protected by my ever-vigilant guard-cat.

Click photo to enlarge

Caldonia’s Killing Fields

So, a while back I blogged about my dismay when I had to trap (and dispose of) a mouse while the cat sat idly by. Evidently if the mouse had looked like this*;

there wouldn’t have been a problem. That’s how the “mouse” she got for Christmas looked, briefly. And yes, I give the cat toys for Christmas… it’s not like I wrap them or anything, so give me a break!
Anyway, back to the mouse. For whatever reason, catnip filled/scented toys, particulary mice, bring out Cali’s dark side. She promptly tears into

and eviscerates them.

Oh, the horror!
Note too, that she has also removed the ears, tail, and contents tag from the poor thing.
*This is actually the first mouse’s replacement, prior to the inevitable destruction.

Bicycles in the News (File under “W” for WTF?)

According to this story from my local news, a guy on a bicycle ran a stop sign and hit a car.

Police said the cyclist may have been distracted; evidently he was wearing headphones, carrying two backpacks and (here comes the crazy part) a cage with “some kind” of an animal.

The cyclist, sadly, is in serious condition. No word on the condition of the (I’m guessing) marmot.

Suburban Wildlife (Hawk vs. Squirrel)

So, this morning at work I happen to look out the back door and perched on the 3′ high chain-link fence at the edge of the yard is a young Cooper’s Hawk. Then I see the gray squirrel blithely going about his squirrel business right in front of me, just beyond the patio and think: “Uh-oh… That hawk is about to kill that squirrel, and I’ve got a front row seat.”

Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one watching the squirrel and Mr. Hawk swoops low across the yard and makes a grab for Mr. Squirrel who retreats under a nearby bush. Undeterred the hawk (now on foot) flares his wings and tries to flush the squirrel out. A couple of times the hawk does manage to drive the squirrel from under the bush and tries to pounce on him, but each time the squirrel dashes safely back under the bush. The hawk then flew back to his perch on the fence to re-evaluate the situation.

I watched, transfixed, as the squirrel casually strolled into the (very exposed) center of the yard, proudly carrying some sort of a nut. Again the hawk swoops across the yard and the squirrel runs for the trees and bushes at the rear fence line. The hawk cuts him off and again plunges down at him when the squirrel suddenly springs straight up about three feet into the air! Three or four times the hawk jumps back into the air and attempts to drop on the squirrel and each time the squirrel springs straight up, like some sort of spring-loaded cartoon character. Finally the squirrel jumps onto the top of the fence near the safety of some tall bushes and the hawk gives up, flying straight toward me and passing low over the house.

It was truly breathtaking watching this drama play out right in front of me (much of it within 10 feet of me). I can’t help but feel that Mr. Squirrel’s brash behavior won’t turn out as well if he’s faced with an older, savvier hawk. In the meantime, however, he has a heck of a tale to tell all of his squirrel buddies down at the squirrel hardware store (or wherever it is that they go to swap stories).