Today's ride was an interesting one. My coach had me scheduled for a 90 minute road ride. Unfortunately with other stuff I had scheduled today the only time I could do it was in the hottest part of the day. Thankfully the humidity is finally down to tolerable levels and even though it was definitely hot, it wasn't as stifling as I thought it might be. The sweat could actually evaporate for the most part, which made things tolerable.
I decided to try a new variation on the route I've been riding lately, and boy did I screw that up. You can see the data here, which includes a nice map of what I did. As you can see from the map, I did about four miles on highway 87 north. That was NOT intentional. For some reason I had it in my head that Mt. Olive Church Road went straight from Chicken Bridge Road to Old Greensboro, but in fact you have to turn right on Mandale to do that, which I missed. And then I stupidly decided that it probably wasn't but a mile or so up 87 to Old Greensboro, so I'd just go that way instead of turning around.
Want to know the worst part about all this? I have a GPS on my bike with full mapping and navigation and I didn't use it! Talk about dumb. I'm so used to leaving it on the data screen that I didn't even think to hit the map button and see what I was doing. Turning around would have been no big deal to go to Mandale, but riding four miles on 87 sucked big time. It's not fun getting passed by semis and logging trucks at 65MPH, that's for sure. Especially with traffic going the other way, too! And all this the day after a post about crashing. Seriously, that's just not bright. It made me want to quit riding altogether. Okay, not really.
Along the way, I also had my first bad dog encounter. Okay, I say bad, but in reality it was basically as bad as you can get without actually getting bit (or crashing). It was a black mutt that appeared to have a goodly amount of Chow in him. I'd put him at about 85 pounds and you'd have to say Mr. T has a sunny disposition compared to this creature. He came out of a yard to my left, but I never saw him until he hit the road running and around to my right side. I was probably doing about 16MPH at this point and it was basically flat. I sped up a little, and he matched me, barking ferociously the entire time. Then I noticed he was staring at my ankle appearing to be timing my pedal strokes and easing closer. I figured an attempt to kick him would just result in a crash, so I took the other option and put the power down.
My data shows I peaked at nearly 1,000W for about five seconds. Not too bad. As I hit it hard, I pulled in front of him. I looked back to see him try for another gear, which he did have, but he only stayed with me another second or so before my continued acceleration got the better of him. He pulled up and turned around. I have to say that was quite annoying. I've never been scared of a dog while on my feet, but at speeds over 16MPH while clipped into a road bike, I felt a lot more vulnerable to a beast like that. He'd inflict some damage, but I know I could inflict more in a straight fight. My problem was the fear of the crash he was about to cause on top of it. Hmm, now we're back to yesterday again.
But I've learned that lesson, too. I will be better prepared on my road rides from now on, and dogs who do this will not like the outcome, that much I can assure them. I have a right to pedal on the road without fear of being injured by a furry beast, and I intend to exercise that right. Trust me when I say I'm truly a dog person and always have been. I know when a dog is in "attack" mode versus just "get the hell out of here, I'm protecting my turf" mode. The latter will be tolerated, the former, well, no. Today was the former. I could see it in his eyes and in his actions.
The last interesting thing was near the end of the ride. A truck approached from ahead and slowed and rolled his window down as he met me. A gentleman stuck his head out and warned me about a "fox" around the next bend that I should watch out for. I said thanks and gave a thumbs up as I rolled by (I slowed, too), and thought "what kind of moron bothers to warn someone about a fox? You barely see one and then they're gone. Oh well, he was being nice." Then as I rounded the corner I see a critter on the left shoulder. He sees me, hops to his feet, and jogs slowly back into the trees. As he did that, I realized not only was he a coyote, but he had been hit and was injured. So the guy who warned me was actually probably the one who hit him and saw that he was alive but too injured to flee. Now it all made sense. Still a bit odd of a thing to happen in the middle of the afternoon, but on this day, nothing was completely out of line, apparently.