Saturday, December 12, 2009

Of Dogs and Bikes

Years ago when I first started riding bicycles, it was hard to not come across an angry dog. Every country road seemed to have at least one.
My cycling routes were altered and roads avoided because of the chance of being attacked by some drooling, barking beast. A lot of dogs gave it there best to keep up, but many were nothing to tangle with and their road would be avoided at all costs. Seeing a large sharp toothed mouth at your bare ancle is not a good sight.

There use to be a huge St Bernard at a home at the middle of a large hill on the way over to Sherborn. The dog never bit me, but would always come out and run in front of my bike bringing me to a stop. I was thrilled to see a "For Sale" sign go up in front of the dog's house one day, knowing that the dog would soon be gone and just a bad memory. Weeks later, the Dog re-appeared at the bottom of another large hill where the family had moved to the next town and on another one of my favorite cycling routes. (I was told that the dog was hit and killed shortly later by a passing car.)

Many a cyclist can tell you of dog interferences while riding. Friends have been pulled off there bikes while trying to get away from dogs and bicycles have been broken by riding into them.

My friend Jon, on the way to make a payment for his new Motobecane to my friend Billy Reilly for lending him the money, was "taken" off his bike while climbing the Farm Street hill by a very large German Shepard by the name of Hector. Hector was a nasty tempered dog that didn't like bikes. Hector made the Farm St hill a Great training hill because no matter how tired you were, you always sprinted to avoid Him. I remember that after Jon dealt with the owner of Hector for his encounterance, he received enough of a cash settlement to finish paying for his bike.

My brother Gary, on his ride from Bennington Vermont to Dover back in the early 70's
Prepared himself by carrying a can of pepper spray just in case. Before he crossed the state line he was attacked by another very large German Shepard. He sprayed the dog and stopped him in his tracks. As he was getting settled, out from the side of the road came the screaming dog owner with a loaded wheel barrel and charged into my brother, knocking him off his bike for "attacking" his dog! Gary's front wheel was badly bent. The Police were called and the dog owner found to be in the wrong. He was held responsible to replace Gary's front wheel so he could finish his ride. (His 700c tubular was replaced with a 27x1 1/4 steel bolt on.)

On my commute from Haverhill, Ma to Harvard Square in Cambridge in the 80's, I would have a dog come out at the top of a hill and always bring me to a stop. One day I saw the owner and asked him if he could do something about his dog.
The owner said, "Why don't you find another road to ride on?"
I did, and it shortened my commute by about 3 minutes and one less hill. Thank You!

Another time while riding here in Dover, I had a scraggly mutt come after me. I was feeling a little devilish that day and egged the dog on. When I had the dog at speed barking at my rear wheel, I jammed on my brakes and he ren into the back of my bike. The joke backfired. When he hit me it caused my brand new Bluemel fender to stick to the tire and get sucked up into the spokes and crush it. I looked up to see the owner running tward me swigging a bamboo rake in the air. Thinking about my brother's wheel barrel incident, I thought for sure I was going to get hit for my bad idea.
The owner hit the dog and pulled out his wallet and handed me $40.00 to cover the cost of the fender replacement. I walked the bike out of his sight to make it seem worse then it really was.

There are I'm sure many bike and dog story's . Things have improved here in Massachusetts over the past 20 years. The new wireless fences have seemed to help. Dogs don't seem to leave there yards as much as they use to in the past.
Its a really good thing too. I cant imagine what it would be like to be attacked on a lowracer.
I don't think the rider would stand a chance!


  1. A friend of mine would grab his water bottle and try to spray hard enough to sting at any threatening dog who got close enough.

  2. We had a friend that use to carry a Silca frame pump filled with lead shot and go looking for dogs. Made me happy I was born a Monkey, Wow!


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