Faced with beautiful weather Sunday, and having missed out on the Bohemian Sto Mil gravel race this last Saturday due to scheduling difficulties, I decided I was overdue for a long ride Sunday. Breakfast at Platte River State Park sounded like a great start, and I could add a little more for an even 100 miles.
I didn’t meet anyone else on the Mopac out. It was a beautiful sunrise with a cool breeze and rising fog that kept making me wipe the mist off my glasses. At times like these you feel sorry for everyone else still snug in their beds. The morning continued this way until 322nd and McKelvie Road, just north of Wabash.
I had forgotten about the dog. As I got to the corner, there was the large boxer in full intimidation mode, barking and rushing at me. Then I remembered just last week I’d seen a post on the Facebook group Bicycle Touring & Bikepacking. http://weleaf.nl/en/deal-with-aggressive-dogs/ They say to stop or slow down and make yourself large if in this situation. Out-running them doesn’t work well, as they’re usually faster, and the spinning wheels and legs seem to cause blood lust. I’ve read you can scare bears away by opening and closing an umbrella repeatedly, but I don’t ride with one. (People often do ride in the rain with one in China) It was the perfect time to find out if this theory worked. I hopped off the bike and put it between the dog and me, then put my arms straight out at my side. The dog stopped. Next I tried holding my arms out at 10:00 and 2:00, and the dog took a step back. That was progress. Then I yelled at it, which seemed to have no effect. It was just out of range of squirts from my water bottle. Every time I got back on my bike it would advance, barking and frothy at the mouth, and we would repeat. Bit by bit I made it up the hill, the dog running past and in front of me barking until I reached the top, at which point it apparently felt no more obligation to threaten me and retreated. I felt pretty good about the results of my experiment. I did not get a picture of the dog. I remember reading just a few months ago one of our own got bitten by a dog around 290 and A Street I think? I know others who have been bitten and I’ve had one snag a tooth in the ankle of my cycling tights on a country road. I talked to the brother of the owner of that dog and it was kenneled every time I rode past after that. Another blog that might be of interest is on the topic is https://rossedintranslation.com/2017/08/31/a-guide-to-dealing-with-dogs-on-a-cycle-tour/ which deals with different kinds of cyclist vs dog encounters.
After some minimum maintenance roads and a fine breakfast at P.R.S.P. I decided to check out the rest of the Mopac until it’s end north of Springfield. Heron Bay is still there on the river with their very accommodating waitstaff and cold drinks.
Our part of the Mopac on this side of Wabash is compacted and a pleasure to ride, but the crushed limestone trail from the other side of the Lied Bridge on is loose and deep. It’s a pity, and only a few years old. Most cyclists take the shoulderless highway rather than the slow-rolling and effort-full trail, unfortunately. Skinny tires are out of the question and novices would find it un-nerving. I did stick it out to the end however, in the name of research, and found that it currently ends at Schramm road.
From there I struck out west and found gravel in a couple of miles, working my way back down to the bridge. The rest of the ride was pleasant, stopping for water in Grandpa’s Woods near Wabash, where my grandpa really did farm a piece of the property before 1909, and a snack in Elmwood. All in all I logged 110 miles. I missed the beautiful and challenging hills of the Bohemian Alps around Prague, but there’s always next year.