Calm Before the Dogs

Post for 21 and 22 June, 2021

About an hour before sunset on June 20, I looked for a nice place to relax since I needed to take the next day off, to give my legs a rest. No campsites were nearby, but found a small cabin for a good price, $50 a night.

On June 21, hard rain hit the windows of the cabin and thunder rolled above. After cycling in some thunderstorms, it felt even better to relax in a cosy cabin during a storm.

The last time I took time off was in St. Louis, but there was so much to see in the city that I didn’t rest my legs. I enjoyed exploring the city, by walking and cycling. In this cabin, my legs got the rest they needed. Looking back, I enjoyed St. Louis because there was so much to do. I enjoyed this cabin because there was so little to do.

When I left the cabin, on June 22, the roads continued through peaceful countryside. I stopped at a post office in Waverly, Tennessee, to pick up some medication, which I had delivered there.

After Waverly, I cycled toward Lorretta Lynn’s Ranch since it allows tent-camping. The most direct route was on a busy road. It had a wide shoulder, about 6 feet, but I made my own route to get away from traffic. That route was longer, but I wanted to get back on quiet country roads, which is when dogs showed up.

Usually, dogs just want to run, so if I talk nice to them and slow down, they calm down. Sometimes, it takes a while for them to calm down. In that case, I’ll say, “Don’t make me beep you.” The “beep” isn’t filling in an expletive, as radio does. I literally say “beep” since I keep a small horn handy.

When press that horn, a loud beep comes out. I barely tap the horn since a little beep is enough, and I don’t want to use up the small amount of compressed air the horn holds. With a tap of the horn, dogs get surprised and have a look on their face that seems to say, “I didn’t see that come’n, and I really didn’t care for it.” Then, they slow down, and I cycle away, usually.

On this day, the dogs were never slow. The first one was a solid short dog, just over a foot tall. It came at me like a rocket on legs, and it’s head was down in a way that looked evil. Talking nice wasn’t going to slow this dog down, and I certainly didn’t make my little joke about, “Don’t make me beep you.” I pulled out my horn and laid on it, holding the button down. The dog kept coming, so I firmly held down the button on my horn. After several long seconds, the dog slowed down just enough for me to get away.

But on that quiet country road, more dogs showed up. Sometimes, two or three fast dogs from the same house. I learned why dogs hunt in packs. I could only watch one carefully, and the second or third dog seems to know that they should run quiet. That way, I don’t see dog 2 or 3 until they’re close enough for me to bump into them, or for them take a bite out of my recently rested legs.

Fortunately, I’m slightly smarter than most dogs, and just as good, my little horn has more beeping power than expected. I beeped and beeped and beeped. Eventually, the pack slowed down, and my legs cycled faster, from adrenalin.

Since the day hadn’t been interesting enough, the quiet tar road later changed to gravel. Normally, that slows me down a lot, but my legs still moved my bike fast. And fortunately, Lorretta Lynn’s Ranch showed up on that gravel road before any more dogs did.

Of course, I don’t enjoy being chased by one aggressive dog or a pack, but they won’t stop me from long bike rides. Dealing with bad dogs is still better than mowing the lawn, at least for me.

The song for today is Allegretto, by Jenkins. This song gives the feeling of a bad dog running from a house and toward me.

6 thoughts on “Calm Before the Dogs

  1. Dogs… captured the conundrum of the rural cyclist well. Glad you don’t have bite marks pictured in this post!!!

    • Great hearing from you, Sue! Country cycling definitely has some conundrums with dogs, and now, some dogs might not have the hearing they used to. 🙂 Are you back in Minnesota, or are you still exploring the globe?

  2. Perfect music for the dog days. My dad worked as a dog catcher in the early 50s, and I grew up without a fear of dogs, only respect. Much later in life I had to provide emergency care for a pit bull victim, kneeling next to her at the wood line from which the pit charged her. After that I had a dagger in my boot every shift. I salute your choice of a “beeper”. I’m sorry I couldn’t step any lower than a can of bear spray if I took up bikes.

    • Thanks for you comment about the music. I can see why you armed yourself after seeing a bad dog attack. I imagine many, or most, street-paramedics see something like that. Some cyclists do too. The dogs mentioned in this post were the worst I’ve seen, in 10 years of bike touring about about 5 years of training for marathons before that. After cycling away from the pack of dogs, I seriously considered carrying a can of mace, which is all I have room for. I still might get one, depends on what shows up next.

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