Monday, February 23, 2015

Creatures of the Night

Untitled
a quick rendering of last night's adventure [dramatisation]




Returning home after dark last evening, I was proceeding unhurriedly along a narrow farm lane when, in the far-reaching glow of my light beam, I noticed a gray furry thing emerge from behind the row of hedges at the left and make its way toward the field on the right. A split second later, I saw the unmistakable striped, elongated profile. It was none other than a badger!

Being a fairly optimistic person, I was hopeful of an ideal outcome to the situation: that by the time I reached the critter, it would have already completed its journey. But having sensed my approach the poor fellow froze smack in the center of the lane and just stood there, crouching low to the ground, its short paws and hefty torso vibrating with tense indecision.

I slowed down dramatically and hovered a short distance away, trying to swiftly decide on a course of action. While I am no connoisseur of country life, I know enough to know that badgers can, in some cases, attack humans and do serious damage with their ultra sharp teeth and claws. Luckily, my ensemble that evening included knee-high wellies. I could attempt to quickly pass the badger, and if it went for my ankle the boots would protect me while I flung it off. The only question was... were badgers able to jump? Surely not, as their paws are so pathetically tiny. But what if I were mistaken, and the thing were to leap for my throat?.. I gulped uncomfortably at the possibility of such a scenario.

Just then, the creature - which until now had stood with its backside toward me - turned its head so as to gaze at me over its shoulder. Its expression was surprisingly lacking in hostility and could almost be described as coy. As in "I won't if you won't, eh?" In any case, in that moment when we met each other's gaze it was as if an unspoken understanding was reached. Time unfroze and the badger proceeded across the lane, disappearing once again into the hedges to conduct important business in the field on the righthand side. And I, in turn, proceeded onward toward my house some quarter of a mile away. We parted like ships in the night.

Having reviewed the incident some time later - in the safety of my home and with a drink in hand - I concluded that I felt pretty good about how the face-to-face with the badger went down. Truth told, I had even begun to miss its cute little face and regret we couldn't have become friends. However, when I shared the story with a couple of locals, I was given to understand that I was lucky to have escaped with my life. The words "vicious," "relentless" and "torn limbs" were bandied about, followed by stern advice to never walk or cycle after dark in parts where badgers are known to reside (which would be everywhere around here, pretty much).

Considering that people here have a talent for winding one up ("out of badness") while appearing utterly sincere, I will take these ominous warnings with a grain of salt. But it did get me thinking: What protective measures can a cyclist take against nocturnal critters? Not just badgers, but bats, foxes, and whatever else lurks in your neck of the woods? As much I love Wellington boots, they would not be my choice on a long distance overnight ride or a brevet. If you've ever had a nocturnal critter encounter, do share your story!

61 comments:

  1. Great story, and I love your illustration! The only similar story I can relate didn't involve a nocturnal critter, but rather happened in broad daylight. Cycling with two friends on a local trail, we stopped to take a quick water break and get our bearings. While my friend Don was talking, I noticed his bike was straddling a rather large snake! He was oblivious. I interrupted him to point it out, and we quickly made our escape. Again, I love your illustration. :)

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  2. I have seen a friend wearing a strong light on his helmet during a night ride be struck by a bat that was presumably going after the bugs attracted to our lights.

    I just heard a loud thump and looked left in time to see his head recoiling back from the impact. Thankfully he was wearing glasses, because the bat nearly hit his left eye.

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  3. I should point out that the picture is a reference to this vintage bicycle advertisement : )

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    1. Killer illustration! Who would've thought you'd ever encounter a R.O.U.S riding MUNI in Ireland?

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  4. I sometimes ride at 4 a.m. because there are days I have no other time to squeeze in a ride. It's mostly deer, possums, coyotes and skunks around here. Of those, deer pose the biggest threat because they are the most likely to jump in front of you, especially at the bottom of a descent. It pays to be ready to brake and pay attention to peripheral vision. Skunks leave you alone unless cornered. Coyotes are scared of everything. Possums are just creepy.

    Occasionally I see red foxes which tend to regard me with an alert nonchalance before continuing about their business. Every once in a blue moon I see bobcats which are never going slow.

    I do make a point to stop and help turtles cross the road. I have a theory that someday I will be in a life-or-death situation and a herd of turtles will rescue me for my good deeds.

    It could happen.

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    1. Lol!! Course it could. And good on yeah.

      I like to ride at stoopid o'clock, too, at least when I'm not clocking a ton of miles with the club. And the other day I encountered the biggest coyote I have ever seen. At first I thought it must be a wolf, so high and narrow were its shoulders, but for sure for sure no wolves live in Stanley Park, smack dab in the middle of Vancouver. I see it regularly at the same spot near Lost Lagoon, especially just before dawn and just after sunset.

      And any cyclist who rides in the dark round here quickly becomes familiar with racoons and skunks galore. In fact, the other day, as I opened the door to go for a ride, there was a skunk on the welcome mat. I am always surprised at how quickly and seamlessly they manage to position themselves to point their business end in your general direction. It is a bumper year for skunks round here, which has left me all too familiar with that ominous winking orifice.

      The coons aren't nearly so scary as a badger, though they have no fear of anything, it seems. The other day, as I was waiting in the park for a few guys from the club to join me on some hill training, a pair of coons came over to check me out. I know you shouldn't, but I wanted to make friends with em, they're so cute.

      But the most interesting animal I've encountered doesn't really count, since I always came across it during daylight hours. Bears. I have had one long distance sighting as I was riding here on the North Shore, at the one spot on the climb up Cypress which is notorious for them. And in the Rockies, I have had two up close and personal encounters with bears in Banff, once on a bike, and once in a canoe. Never seen a cougar, though, blessed be.

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  5. What an encounter with the hedgerow wild. This appraisal-by-badger (still of mustelidae, I think) brings to mind Annie Dillard's great essay, "Living Like Weasels". Her weasel came out from under a wild rose bush, then locked eyes with her. I like that the badger here is frozen and looking away first, before gazing over-shoulder and making a deal. Who knows what badgers think?

    A unicycle? Definitely.

    My most recent riding encounters have been with 1) a beautiful orange-tinged, dinosaur-eyed, alarmed Wood Turtle who froze on the side of the dirt road, then did his best to speed off into the woods and 2) a round-headed owl who flew across the road at dusk and watched me for a while from about 30 feet up. In each case, and other similar cases, the quiet of the bike helped me make contact.

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    1. It was a Girl with the Pearl Earring kind of look. The Vermeer painting, not Scarlett Johansson.

      I'll have to read the Annie Dillard essay.

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  6. This 2010 encounter between a cyclist and young moose was recently forwarded to me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOciwYnz2Rs&feature=related . I've yet to encounter much by bicycle but then I've generally stuck to city roads for that.

    I used to do a lot of horse riding in the woods growing up and the two biggest concerns were bears and cougars. For bears we used to strap 'bear bells' to our saddles to make noise and sometimes if we heard something crashing about deep in the bushes we might start nervously singing to one other or, if alone, to our horse. Had a few bear encounters on horse back (mostly akin to your badger experience) but cougars worried me more. Who knew if one might be silently stalking you! One short cut was locally dubbed 'dead animal trail' as the remains of a goat or deer or pet were sometimes found there.

    Wonder if any mountain bikers have a bear bell equivalent...

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    1. A "storm whistle" I bought years ago at a maritime supplies store makes every living creature aware you're passing through, and they move away from the sound because it's truly piercing.

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  7. I used to love crossing paths with deer during my off road night rides, I could get quite close without spooking them, it was wonderful.

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    1. Regarding deer and bicyclists, I just read this piece of brilliance last night. Myles na gCopaleen.

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  8. I've encountered my fair share of animals while riding, but never at night - mostly because I'm too afraid of "automotive wildlife" to ride after dark!

    My primary concern with animals is usually hitting something - foxes tend to dart out from the side of the path, and bull snakes love to sun themselves on the pavement when it's cool but sunny outside. However, we do have our fair share of rattle snakes, which can be difficult to distinguish from bull snakes, as well as larger predators like coyotes, and even the occasional bear or mountain lion.

    I guess my approach depends on the animal. I always let CatMan ID a snake before attempting to shoo the thing off the path, don't know what I'd do if I ran into one when he wasn't there to tell me if it was dangerous or not. The coyotes I've encountered are generally more interested in hunting rabbits or prairie dogs than people - and there are usually signs posted asking people to "haze the coyotes." For some reason this always makes me think of holding them down and forcing a beer bong into their snouts, but I'm sure that's not what they have in mind! But it's not beyond the realm of possibility to run into a rabid one, since we've had a fair number of cases of rabies in wildlife around here recently, in which case I really have no idea what I'd do.

    And in the summers we often ride up in the foothills where mountain lions are not uncommon. I only hope that a person on a bike is big and fast enough from their perspective to not look like prey. I think the general recommendation is to make yourself look as tall as possible and to make as much noise as possible. Guess if I saw one I'd get to practice some hands-free riding - waving both arms over my head and screaming like a banshee while pedaling for all I'm worth! Let's hope it doesn't come to that because it would NOT be a pretty sight! :-)

    Soooo... I guess my general strategy is to hope it doesn't happen! Probably not the best approach, but at the moment it's all I've got!

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  9. I've come across deer--yes, they live in the midst of Los Angeles!--but I was going up hill so there was little chance of a collision. Snakes, most of them poisonous, are everywhere outside the developed areas, but as they're deaf the only thing you can do is watch for them as you do when hiking. Cougars are native here--one 200-pound male lives in Griffith Par within sight of the downtown financial district--but you will not see them if they don't want to be seen. Fortunately, like most cats they dislike monkey meat, and have eaten only about one person per decade in the last century. You own't see the one that wants you, so you just play the odds. Coyotes will run if you make noise, likewise the occasional black bear. Feral dogs and drivers are the biggest threats. Again, noise helps.

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  10. My wife once ran over a rattlesnake - they're both fine, but it could have been different. There might be no path of no risk, but consider that your actual significant risks are as follows

    1) risks from an evening injury or issue, and not having rapid access to help (you ride with a phone I hope).
    2) risks from fellow humans. Yes, not the common thing in NI - and not pleasant to think about, but you are a young woman traveling alone.

    For risk #1, good communications is the best you can do. For risk #2 - maybe a taser or pepper spray ? It is obviously the call of the individual, but statistically, women are FAR safer then men with handguns (both to self and others).

    Best wishes and ride safe

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    1. You're right enough to be concerned, but tasers, pepper spray, tear gas or anything other than a rape alarm are strictly illegal in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, just the same as knives or guns - even to carry. You'll have your own thoughts about that, but it's the law. You can still stick two fingers in their eyes and kick them in the balls, Maureen O'Hara style, which has the same effect as pepper spray and a taser, but no artificial aids allowed.

      I remember seeing a photo on Crazy Guy on a Bike's guide to touring bikes where two cannisters, among other things, were mounted on trekking bars. Couldn't figure what on earth they were then guessed they were pepper spray. Probably not intended for use against humans, more likely critters ('craiturs' in Ireland), especially dogs, but not legal over here.

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    2. With the exception of the police, tazers, pepper sprays and personal handguns aren't legal in the UK!

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    3. Well, there's always The Cyclist's Friend.

      Although my preferred method is to tape a shotgun to the underside of my top tube.

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  11. I spent a summer and fall working in Yellowstone NP and saw Badgers all the time. They're pretty fun to watch. I 'm thinking your light might have blinded it for a second or two.

    On some of my rides I keep a collapsable police baton in a frame bag in case of feral/unfriendly dogs. Flick it open and you can put a nice sturdy steel rod vertically between a hostile dog's mouth and your leg. I've waggled it out away from my leg a couple times as dogs were coming up on me from behind and the dogs focused on my baton instead of my leg and I was able to ride off. So far, I haven't ever had to swing it at anything.

    I'm in central Wisconsin and it's really common to see wildlife on my rides, lots of rabbits, turkeys and deer. Dispite being in The Badger State for a year so far no badger sightings.

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    1. A neighbor used to walk his dog carrying a hammer. The human, I mean.

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  12. Not so much at night, but during the day while mountainbiking in a local park, it's fairly common to come across a rafter of turkeys (yes, i looked that up). in the spring, if you "gobble" at them, the males will chase you. the only time an animal made me run through my chances of survival was when a bobcat sat on top of a rock acroos a small field and didn't run off like usual but watched me go by. I knew I would live, but wondered how much that would hurt.

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  13. During the day but pretty memorable was a family of wild boar on a forest path in France. First the cute little baby humbugs, then some bigger sows, and finally scary angry male tuskers. Fortunately they ran off rather than at us.

    Over here at night, cows and sheep, occasionally a hedgehog, owls in the twilight

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    1. One thing I had not realised before moving here, is that ordinary, farmed (as opposed to wild/feral) pigs are quite aggressive and dangerous. So if one gets out and you meet it, best to keep away. Also, must not attempt to try and pet through chainlink fence!

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    2. Pigs are hyper-sensitive to any motion closing on them from above, since it mimics attacks by birds of prey. Even if you walk your bike past them at a distance of less than about 10 feet, they'll squeal and move about in a very agitated manner. It took several years for a neighbor's Vietnamese pot-bellied pig to get used to seeing me walk my bike down my driveway, and even then he'd occasionally wag his tusks (three inches long and sharp) at me.

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    3. Yes feral pigs! Google it RIGHT NOW! It's so creepy, especially if you've ever run across where they've rooted everything up for 1/2 an acre or have heard snufflings in the night outside your window...

      Spindizzy

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    4. An old neighbor has a feral boar head mounted on her wall. She and her late husband surprised it on a walk in the woods near their family farm in Montana. It did not take kindly to the surprise, and the husband had to shoot it to avoid evisceration. It weighed over 400 lbs. This is supposedly a very rare size, but not at all unknown.
      She calls it "Piggy".
      Feral pigs are a big problem across much of the American west; many states do not even require hunting tags.
      The pigs do destroy habitat for native wildlife, too.
      Pigs are not really your friends.

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  14. Nice to see one of your drawings, thank you for sharing. Many encounters with critters. Touring, especially, made me on edge on more than one occasion. I've run over small animals who darted across my path (lot's of skunks and opossums) and even a bird, confused by the sweeping winds, flew into my front wheel spokes and was caught for several rotations before I knew what hit me and was able to stop. Poor thing. Only dogs have attacked….not a fan.

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    1. So far, any animal trouble I've had on a bike has been exclusively with dogs as well. Sure, some dogs just run along and bark harmlessly. But there are also dogs that are blatantly aggressive and aim to bite/ attack. How their owners feel comfortable letting them out unleashed is beyond me.

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    2. Sadly, it's not beyond them…I think some owners get a kick out of it. Also, it happens a lot in urban areas,too. I remember one beautiful Sunday morning cycling to coffee when I heard a voice from a neighborhood porch…'better look out for that dawg' …. turned my head and, yup, a very stealthy pit bull was almost on my heels! He lost his traction for a moment which allowed me just enough time escape. Not fun!

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  15. Just checked wiki since I assumed a badger couldn't possibly hurt a person too badly.... it says in america they can fight off wolves and bears. If I ever come across a badger, I'll be cautious!

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  16. Can you elaborate more on how you slowed down dramatically and hovered a short distance away? That's an illustration I'd love to see!

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    1. Hovering, in the velocipedian sense of the word, is a state of slowness that is just short of a track-stand.
      See: How Slow Can You Go?

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  17. So similar to Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly….Reporters out there reporting and perhaps, maybe, embellishing just a bit for dramatic purposes. Oh, what we do for a good story!

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    1. Hey, the picture clearly says "dramatisation." Also, I changed the badger's facial features to protect his identity.

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  18. In case of Badger, I carry a full size Dachshund.
    Of course here I'm more likely to run into Moose. By the lodge-ful, often. (The dog likes that; they give him treats.)

    I've nearly run into deer on dark roads during the summer, even with lights. In some parts of northern California, they can be quite thick on the ground.
    Last summer I surprised a coyote, who actually came closer to investigate the quiet whir of the bottle dynamo on the roadster.


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  19. Imaginative scene setting and deliciously inviting drawing that channel our childhood dread of things that go bump in the night. And yeah, a double feature: not for children only!! Thank you. Jim Duncan

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  20. I've had a magpie attack me, it even knew to peck below my helmet and drew blood behind my ear.

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    1. Gah! The idea of bird attacks is, for some reason, extra scary.

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  21. Coyotes, bears, owls, deer, racoons etc etc. I'd say dogs are the most troublesome. Cougars likely lurk unseen, and wolves are returning to the area. I live in the country and encounter most of these animals either on foot, or while cycling, or just around my house, rarely a problem, but my one encounter with a cougar years ago was hair raising enough to hope they remain unseen. They are apparently curious about bicycles and will chase cyclists. I sometimes will encounter a coyote on a back lane while cycling and we will both stop and watch each other for a bit. I have encountered bears slowly lumbering across the road while cycling.
    This past summer I was out riding at dusk, going quickly down a hill and the bats were swooping all over. One smacked me flat in the face and then flew off. i was totally freaked out. So watch out cycling at dusk when bats are feeding on bugs!
    I enjoy watching eagles and ravens fly above the road as I ride along.

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    1. I'd love to live in your area (minus the dogs)! I will always remember nearly 30 years ago, while riding along lonely SR44 in New Mexico. A coyote, obviously thinking the road was clear, was crossing 20 feet in front of me when our eyes locked and we both stopped in our tracks. "Seeing into the soul of the wild" is my romanticized notion of the event. "I judged it not to be a threat.", was probably his report to his coyote cohorts. Unfortunately, most of us no longer have the privalidge of these encounters, so we think about "what if's", and our first reaction is fear instead of the elation our ancestors must have had when they made these beings into "trickster gods". I think about how victims of bear maulings or shark attacks often plead against the formation of a "posse" to go after the offending creature, saying, "I was just trespassing in his territory". Somehow, thinking about these things always make me think about Vonnegut's comment on the narrowness of the human condition in "Cat's Cradle": From Bokonon's (#?) Calypso: "Fish got to swim, birds got to fly, man got to wonder, Why why why?.."

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  22. I used to take the six mile seaside promenade home, sometimes at night. The prom was lined its length with beach huts in various stages of decrepitude, and with cast iron street lamps that cast more shadow than useful light. With tilted head I'd strain for giveaway sounds of the unknown from between and behind those huts, certain that if anything lurked I'd know about it before it did me; but the whipping wind, thump of my heart, and steady tick-tick-chime of my bike rendered those efforts vain. Looking away from the huts and rust-stained gutters; beyond the street lamps' sodium reach, was luminous foam at water's edge. And beyond that, the unfathomable sea.

    I did encounter a critter, too. A squirrel emerged at full pelt from a bush on the wayside, saw me and veered into a parallel path to my bike. To my surprise, and dismay, it then ran straight into my front wheel, exiting similarly quickly in another direction. I slowed, turned, looked about, looked some more, but found no trace of the squirrel – and I took some comfort from that.

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    1. A 6-mile seaside promenade commute sounds wonderful ...though potentially windy.

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  23. Several years ago a cat ran suddenly onto the road and into the front wheel of my bike with impressive force - incredibly I remained upright and the cat ran off, hopefully unhurt - on the bush tracks here, early morning and at dusk one needs to be mindful of kangaroos, the males can get a little testy and they are quite powerful animals when aggressive. I love your illustration :)

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    1. Kangaroos at dusk! I would love to see that. Without crashing into them of course.

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  24. Just a short defence of badgers. They don´t attack humans, that´s a myth spread over most of the western world. Can´t really understand why, maybe it´s because they are nocturnal and elusive. They are shy, but friendly. I have lived a life where I have had the pleasure to meet badgers several times. Mutual courtesy, but no animosity!

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    1. Sounds like they are deeply misunderstood. Fortunately, I suspect I will have many opportunities to get to know them better in future.

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  25. During my frequent mountain bike rides in southwestern Montana I have yet to encounter a badger. However, I have encountered moose, elk, deer, squirrels, fox, chipmunks, many bird species and even a couple of black bears. Thankfully, no grizzlies. I always carry bear spray but have never had to use it. My worst cycling encounter with a critter was at a local park where I was bitten by a dog while riding. The wound became infected, resulting in a real miserable round of treatment.

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  26. OH MY GOD! This post is like a GIFT to me! I have so much wonderful things to share! Much of it true! But first I have like 3 days worth of production to get on the UPS truck at 5:30, I hope I can get all this crap finished and boxed up before I burst!

    Oh the stupid stuff I have to share!

    Spindizzy

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  27. Living in a rural area, I have frequent encounters with the local wildlife. One very cold night I was bundled up and out for a fitness ride. Hitting a smooth patch of nice road, I pushed the speed up a bit and delighted in the moment. Until, at the very edge of my light beam there appeared that dreaded white stripe on an otherwise black critter, wobbling across the road. There was no time to brake - only to swerve around it while the residents in the nearby farmhouses heard someone shouting at the top of their lungs: "Oh dear God!"

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  28. You did right. Wonderful illustration, by the way. Often night critters just want to continue hunting for food. Badgers do have bad tempers but if he saw you coming he/she probably just wants to get out of there. I let wildlife be, hang back until they leave.

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  29. If you've seen the recent viral Go Pro video about a cyclist hitting a deer at 30 mph, I nearly did that to a bear. I was on the second day of an organized bike tour, descending the SW side of Battle Pass in southern Wyoming. The drop off the top had been a bit of a white knuckle ride, dodging debris and potholes on two-lane blacktop at 40+ mph, but the grade had slackened so I was now going between 30 and 35 and feeling a lot safer. Suddenly a bear dashed out of the bushes 30 feet ahead and into the highway. The next few seconds were memorable for all parties. I noticed the bear and realized that I was about to hit him. He was a small bear, but that simply meant I was about to become airborne. Simultaneously, the bear noticed something (me, in a helmet and dark glasses) closing on him at a high rate of speed. Apparently he was a juvenile and found this very intimidating, because he executed a U-turn at the yellow line and dashed back the way he had come. If you've never seen a bear in a hurry, it may be difficult to imagine how quickly they can move. Imagine some combination of a race horse and a major league basketball player. That's how long fast he cleared the road, and that's why I didn't hit him. Some other animal, or even an older and more secure bear, might have frozen in place when I saw me coming. That would have been bad for everyone involved, but especially for me.

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    1. What an awesome memory... it does seem an anathema that such a round and bulky creature could move so fast. As teenagers at camp, we used to go on long horseback trips in the back-country of the Rockies, and over and over we were warned that bears - any bear - can sprint faster than a horse. Any horse.

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    2. There's a famous incident that happened around here a few years ago, 3 guys riding mountainbikes down a trail on Reddish Knob, one guy, way out front, rounds a bend and hits a BLACK BEAR in the trail,( OOOFFF!!!) where the bear was busy tearing up a bee hive to get at the honey, Mike (the Dude, not the bear) is on the ground, with a broken collarbone, covered with dirt, honey and a zillion freaking BEES while the bear is bouncing around him woofing and grunting about how he wants his damn beehive back right NOW DAMMIT!!! The other 2 guys finally round the bend to see their friend dressed in an outfit of dirt and hay, screaming and waving his arms like a madman in a fog of tears, bees and profanity. The bear does the math, say's "fuck it" and scampers.

      The 2 miles back to the truck, limping along, eyes swollen shut, covered with sticky mulch and dying warrior bees were described to me as "unpleasant". But, it has to be one of the all time best worst day ever stories. Sometimes I wish it had been me...

      Spindizzy

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  30. Riding through a small town on my way home, one very late night, I came upon an overturned garbage can. As I passed its gaping maw, a startled racoon hustled out, right in front of me. I narrowly avoided striking the critter, and rode away just a little wiser in the perils of the night.

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  31. When I lived in Alaska, I was descending a rather steep hill when I came across a moose that was straddling the bike path. There's not a whole lot you can do in that situation except wait or turn around.

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  32. Wait- cycling great Bernard "The Badger" Hinault is prowling around rural Ireland at night and stalking lady cyclists?

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  33. What a wonderful illustration! :) If the muse takes you, could you perhaps illustrate future posts sometimes?

    Curiously, the lady in the vintage poster you linked to looks uncannily like someone I know, at least in profile. She's not a cyclist - she's a musician who lives out of a suitcase with no permanent abode and travels far too far even for a cargo bike - but I'll send her the link anyway (and to this blog - she loves writing and you're a lovely writer).

    Badgers are very self-possessed characters, uneasily fazed. They're shy where I live, and they've always scurried away, although it's always my dogs who've spooked them; they're not so afraid of humans. I suppose, in NI, dogs are their only natural predators (apart from evil humans), or at least the only other 'craiturs' who'll chase them, although if the badger had to turn and fight I'm sure the dog would tend to come off worse. I think the dogs know that too, mind you, if push came to shove; they're not stupid.

    The stereotypical portrayal of 'Brock the Badger' in children's stories is quite apt, I think. I suppose Hinault being labelled 'The Badger' was apt too, right enough, not just for his appearance - being self possessed and uneasily fazed is essential for cyclists, especially at the high end.

    A very fine blog post from le grimpeur about 'The Badger'

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  34. Climbing Washington Pass on the Cascades 1200 I was lucky enough to see a wolverine cross the road, not scary close but amazing none the less.

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  35. Frogs, Dead Frogs, Squished Frogs at night. I was on a spring time night ride, many many moons ago, when bike lights were basically non-existent, and everyone road in toe clips and cleats, when my cycling club and I suddenly came upon a mile long stretch of FROG CROSSING. There was this amazing wall of sound, but it was so dark you couldn't see anything, then there they were, a roadway full of them in various stages of life. It seemed like millions of them. Now, you may think that frogs are kind of slimmy when alive, but that's nothing compared to squished ones covering the road. Almost as soon as we crossed paths with them, half of us went down. Frog parts were everywhere, blood soaked gloves, parts sticking to our wool tights, just standing up again was feat. Then when we got going again they were leaping into our spokes and against our legs, I've never experienced anything like that before or since. Now, you may think falling into that frog soup was gross enough, but that was nothing compared to washing the dried on blood and skins off your skin and clothes and bikes after they had two hours to dry before we go to our cars, then having drive home like that.

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