Friday, August 26, 2011

Sounds I Hate to Hear on My Bicycle........

I rode my bike home from school again today, and I don't mean to imply that I heard all these sounds in one ride. I was going to try to rank them in order of least feared to most feared, but that's too hard. And my brain is fried. So I'll just talk about them as I think of them.

  • Barking dog - A barking dog can be a terrible sound if I can't tell whether or not there is a fence. Of course, a barking dog can also just unleash the inner demon in me. Katydid still talks about the time we were toward the end of a grueling century ride when I screamed AT A DOG. When he ran toward me barking furiously, I pointed at him and yelled, "YOU DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH ME TODAY." The dog turned tail and ran back into his yard. And Katydid wet her pants.
  • Jingling of a dog collar - A jingling dog collar can mean one of two things. It can mean that the dog hasn't noticed me yet and when he does he's going to bite my leg. Or run in front of my bike. I would prefer that he bite my leg, because at least then there's a CHANCE it won't hurt my bike. The jingling can also mean that the dog is already charging and is past the barking phase.
  • Panting dog - Much like the jingling collar, the sound of panting can mean that a dog is already charging. It can also indicate that he has gone into stealth mode, which means he's pretty damned determined to latch onto my juicy calf. After I've worked so hard to get them in shape too. The calves, I mean, not the dogs.
  • Clicking toenails on pavement - I would call this super-stealth mode. The dog is not only refraining from barking, he's controlling his breathing so I won't hear him approach. He has somehow put a silencer on his collar so it doesn't jingle, and I only hear his claws on the pavement for 1.3 seconds before he launches himself into me and my bike.
  • Multiple combinations of any of the above - Anytime there is more than one dog, it's a crap shoot. They scheme and coordinate their movements, and I never know which one I should aim for. It doesn't matter, because I'm just as likely to run out in front of a garbage truck trying to avoid the dogs. 
  • Garbage trucks - My newest (and therefore at least for now my strongest) fear is garbage trucks. My cycling route home from my new school location takes me past the local landfill (oh joy), and as it's late in the day, trash trucks are making what is probably their last runs of the day. One of them ran me off the road yesterday, and his buddy behind him planted himself on the horn of his truck. When I indicated to him that he was number one in my book (I RARELY do that, VERY RARELY), he sat on the horn again. I almost followed him into the landfill (since we were roughly 20 feet from the driveway and I delayed him probably a whopping 10 seconds), but I decided that wasn't very smart. My NEW route home takes me away from the landfill. It's kind of like leaving New York and swinging by Chicago to get to Atlanta just to avoid going through Washington DC. Which according to the traffic horror stories I've heard might not be a bad idea.
  • Squealing tires - If I hear car tires squealing behind me, I just close my eyes and hope for the best. That is an indication that either a driver has misjudged the distance and cannot stop in time to avoid hitting me, or a car has swerved to avoid me and now faces the choice of hitting another car or taking me out.
  • A car horn - A gentle couple of beeps from a distance to let me know he's there is okay. Not necessary, but okay. I have a mirror, and I usually hear a car approaching from the rear. The ones that I really hate are the drivers who wait until they are right beside me, usually too close for comfort, and blow the horn to show their distaste for bicycles, bicycling, and bicyclists. And probably anyone who ever rode, bought, or looked at a bicycle. That makes me jerk the handlebars, which not only gives the a**hole kind driver the satisfaction of knowing he has startled me, but it also makes it more likely that I will jerk my bicycle into his path. Even if I still have both hands on the handlebars, which is unlikely if it's one of those VERY RARE OCCASIONS on which I am also letting the driver know he's number one in my book. (Notice how I keep saying "he"? Yeah, they're all men. Except for the ones I've written about before, the ones with the 'EDUCATOR' license plates.) 
  • Air hissing out of my tire - I'm superstitious, and it's bad luck even to talk about this one.
Katydid and I are doing a bike ride this Sunday, the first one on the tandem in a long time. Tomorrow I have to get the cobwebs off the tandem - literally. I hope we don't hear any of the above sounds on our ride this weekend. We are, however, fairly likely to hear a lot of "On your left."


Kelly said...

Now I love dogs, but.... I do remember an incident back when I use to ride a lot. A pit bull charged me as I was riding along the highway and I ended up broadsiding him and wrecking. As I struggled to get up and pick the loose gravel from my bloody arms and knees his owners rushed over to see if HE was okay!! As I rode off I very unkindly wished internal injuries on the dog.

Maggie said...

I could see how all these would be nightmares... um, and did you notice you could've almost made this a "I hate dogs while I cycle" post? Just an observation!

Anyway, I can't believe people honk to scare you! Who the heck are these idiots? That's terrible! I think you should do a post to those of us non-cyclists, giving us tips that would help those who are! (See, I've thought about a little beep when I'm several yards away in to let them know I'm coming up but I didn't want to seem rude, or scare them to death! I didn't know if that was acceptable cycling etiquette.)