Getting Chased by Dogs while on a bike: How to be Strong, when you’re completely Vulnerable
Day 6 & 7- June 20-21
“Getting Chased by Dogs while on a bike: How to be strong, when you’re completely vulnerable”
We have all felt vulnerable one time or another. Whether it be in trying something for the first time, meeting a new group of people, walking down the street alone at night, or in my current case, riding a bike through unknown parts of the province, we must manage ourselves and our emotions as best we can.
The more I bike, the more I realize how actually vulnerable I am. At any minute a rain storm can pour down on me, I could find myself cycling in rough terrain or as ugly as the reality could be, a car could hit me. There is very little comfort in cycling solo across an entire province. Many unknowns. Very few certainties.
Riding places you in a constant state of vulnerability, and you quickly realize that nature, and the back roads don’t care who you are, what you’re doing, and can leave you in intense, uncomfortable, defeating situations. Many times, there is little to no help around, and you are forced to manage your emotions, and mind: You either stay in control of your surroundings or your anxiety or vulnerability overwhelms you and you break down.
I found myself in an unusual position of vulnerability myself today which I thought would help to share.
As I rode down a back-road early afternoon, I passed by a house that looked no different than any of the other’s on the street, the only difference being that this house had two loose dogs on their front yard who apparently aren’t used to seeing people walk or cycle past. I assume this is the case, because as soon as I cycled by, the two dogs sprinted towards me in an aggressive manner: Barking loudly, drool being thrown from their mouths and not being shy to come close to my bike, I was not surprisingly taken off guard. Both dogs flew across the road all the way to the other side, pushing me to the edge of the road. I stayed calm, focusing on the road in front of me while yelling “enough!” and “get out of here!” in order to get them to stop. The dogs kept chasing for over 100 yards from their house! They both continuously got within a foot of my bike on both sides with no indication they were looking to stop. In the intense moment I comprehended what I will do if one of them attempted to bite me, which looked like it was a strong possibility. Instinct would have naturally kicked in, but thankfully this scenario didn’t come to fruition and the dogs finally stopped and headed back to their home.
When you’re riding a bike like this, there is very little you can do to fight off two dogs. And apparently the proper thing to do is to stop and stand your ground, but i have a province to cycle and i got no time for that, nor do i trust the dogs who apparently have no owners around.
And I am by no means afraid of dogs, but in a moment where two large dogs come charging and barking at you aggressively, your mind can only process so much. Now, there is no saying this will happen many times in one’s life, but in my case this was just the beginning as it happened again about 10 minutes later. Apparently I was in some small town that hated seeing people come by their house. Same situation, only it was 1 Saint Bernard charging in a protective manner. This time around my bike was in full stride and I quickly distanced myself from the dog with ease without having to take action.
With 2 instances occurring within a 10 minute duration, I decided it was time to protect myself. So, instead of letting the vulnerability of being attached to a machine with two wheels affect my ride, I prepared myself more efficiently to prevent this from being a more fearful situation than it needs to be, while able to ride without stopping constantly for “dog chases”; I took the metal night stick my dad had given me for the trip out of my camelback and placed it in my left hand, giving me easy access if worst comes to worst. Using the weapon would be the last thing I would want to do, but it’s always better to be prepared than not. I now only worry for a young child walking their dog in front of those same houses, only to have the same thing happen to them.
This story leads right into day 4. I had to do some back tracking as the trail directions, if followed town to town on the map, lead you to circle back in a weird way for some reason, a problem I rectified thanks to my mom who did some research. Aren’t moms the best?!
This led me to cycle back across the EXACT SAME STREET both dog chases occurred. I looked at my directions previously and knew the street name the moment I saw it. I looked up to the sky, took a deep breath and focused in on my task at hand. I prepared myself to do two things, ride fast in a controlled manner, and hold my night stick tightly in my left hand.
Like clockwork, I rode past the first house and to no surprise at all, the big dog came running off its lawn, this time with a second to follow. My speed was sufficient enough that the dogs gave up only about 20 yards past their house. 2 dogs down, plenty more to come.
The next house which was about 10 minutes away, was the one I was really anxious for. As prepared as you can be, having two aggressive dogs run at you while you’re trapped on a flimsy bicycle, isn’t ideal and will get the heart race pumping. I kept a focused mind as I rode the 4 km down Norton, Ln. Every house that looked familiar in the near distance, I gained my speed and grasped a little tighter onto my night stick. As I came riding past the most familiar looking house before the street ended, no dogs came chasing. I let out a sigh of relief. If you want your adrenaline to pump, try getting chased by 2 dogs barking at you, coming within a foot distance, while navigating the road out in front of you and trying to stop the dogs from making a leap at you. That’s a rush people.
As the ride continued, I had 3, yes 3 more dogs come chasing! 2 sets of dogs stopped as soon as I extended out the night stick to its full length and gave them “the look”, and the other – which was a MASSIVE Rottweiler – stopped before running onto the train tracks. That one scared the shit out of me. The thing was biiiiig. Like the dog from the movie ‘Sandlot’. What the hell is going on in these towns!
These chases may sound funny to people from the outside, but trust me, big dogs in full sprint coming directly at you with very limited control on a bike is not a fun experience.
With that being said, although you cannot completely eliminate vulnerability, there are always ways to confront it head on, rather than let it put you in a state of fear and keep you from moving forward when forced into incredibly vulnerable situations.
If you feel vulnerable walking by yourself, enroll in self-defence classes and develop a skill set to protect yourself. If you are worried about looking stupid in an intellectual setting, develop your mind, and if you’re worried some dogs are going to chase you while you’re on a bike that you flipped over less than 2 weeks prior, grow some balls, whip out an equalizer (the night stick) and pump those legs. You ideally want to face these challenges head on. Of course if this was a true therapy session, I guess I’d just stop my bike and ‘see what happens’ but this didn’t have to be the case. I don’t have a fear of dogs, and if I did, I probably should learn to fix that at home.
But whatever your “vulnerable” is, be the person to fight back against it. It will put you in the driver’s seat of your life.
P.S. if you do cycle and a dog comes running at you, stop and hold strong. The dog is most likely chasing because you’re a moving object. And hopefully those dogs have owners to rally them back home. But if your cycling a province and need to keep your ass in gear, grab a night stick and take control of your vulnerability i suppose.