Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh deer!

26.5 Miles

This afternoon Sarah and I got a rare chance to sneak off and do a bike ride together.  We decided that since we didn't have a lot of time we'd do a shorter ride to Pictograph Caves State Park.  We finally got out the door around 7:30pm and were soon on our way up the long hill.  As we climbed I noticed several deer and knowing how many deer are in this area I said to Sarah, "I hope we don't see any deer on the way down the hill."  You may be aware that I have a phobia of getting hit by a deer while on my bike.  Maybe its not really a phobia but rather a premonition.  Either way, I've had enough close calls that I try to err on the side of caution when dealing with these unpredictable beasts.  I've always got my eyes peeled for those pesky critters.  I like to get the jump on them before they surprise me.

So back to the story.  Sarah and I climbed  and climbed and climbed until we finally crested the hill eagerly awaiting the steep but beautiful decent down the backside.  As we crested, an SUV passed and then stopped at the gate ahead of us.   Apparently the park closes at 8:00pm and they had just barely closed the gates before we got there.  Bummer.  We had to turn around.  With a nice tail wind, we sped back down the hill.  20mph...25....30....35...38mph  We were flying, taking turns hiding in one another's wind shadow and then sling shotting around to take the lead.  I was in the lead now.  Just then, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement to my right.  Then it happens.  Before I can even grab the brake levers, a big doe bounds over the barbed wire fence and darts out directly in front of me crossing the road only feet away.  I missed her by that much (in my best Maxwell Smart impersonation).  Phew!  But its not over yet.  There was another doe behind her and she was ready to jump that fence and do the same thing.

Stay tuned for our next episode, "A lucky break" or "Russ' last stand."....

At a distance of about twenty feet, the second deer ran along side me on the other side of the fence.  She was getting antsy and really wanted to cross the road.  I reached for the brakes again but didn't know if Sarah was right behind me or if she had dropped back.  I hesitated to react until I had to hoping to avoid colliding with Sarah if I hit the brakes too hard.  I watched the doe carefully when suddenly she hit the skids, turned and leapt in the air directly at me.  I yelled (it might have been a scream) and prayed for the best.  Suddenly, this deer who was flying right at me, tumbled in the air.  Huh?  She clipped the top wire of the barbed wire fence, flipped over with her back hooves in the air and slammed to the ground.  I couldn't see much after that but Sarah saw the whole thing.  Apparently the doe tripped on the top wire causing her to flip over completely, smash into the fence and slip between the wires ending up on the same side of the fence that she started. Terrified, the poor thing got up, bolted away from the fence and then, again paralleled me down the road.

Round 2

I am extremely confused at this point thinking that there is a poor deer behind me caught in the barbed wire fence.  Trembling I turn to look back to hear Sarah laughing hysterically.  All of the sudden, the doe is running with me again and again she is itching to jump the fence and cross the road.  Having a better idea of where Sarah was, this time I didn't hesitate to hit the brakes.  She again bound over the fence, this time clearing it, darted across the road in front of me, leapt the fence on the other side of the road and was gone in a flash.  I'm glad Sarah was there because I doubt she would have believed me otherwise.  I just wish I had the helmet camera with me to document the whole thing.

Round 3

Now, I wish I could say that was my only encounter of the evening, but lamentably, it was not.  As we pulled back into town, I rounded the corner, starling another doe.  This time the deer had nowhere to go.  She was trapped between us and a tall chain link fence.  She took off and multiple times, leapt into the air and smashed sideways into the fence until we finally passed.

Until today, I'm pretty sure that Sarah thought I was being paranoid with my certainty that a deer would finally bring my untimely demise.  I've had too many of these experiences to simply credit it to mere coincidence.  There IS a deer conspiracy and they ARE out to get me!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lost in the woods

11 Miles
It was a dark and stormy night and instead of hiding in the house, I geared up, hopped on the mountain bike and sloshed my way over to Riverfront Park.  It was 7:30pm and already dark with the cloud cover.  I entered the park and turned onto the first trail.  I was soon trekking through the trees, came to an unfamiliar fork in the trail and made a snap desicion.  I soon reached the river heading back toward the entrance to the park.  I headed back toward the first trail, found the same fork and chose the other direction.  It seems as there has been some trail building efforts since the last time I was there and the trail system has changed just enough to confuse me.  I finally found my way into the main park.  On my way, I had to cross a bog, got stuck and had to walk out, sinking both feet into the muck.
I goofed around a bit until sunset and decided to turn around so I could get out of the park before dark.  I was almost to the entrance to the park when I took a wrong trail that twisted and turned through the woods with a full canopy above.  The sky was darkening and it was geting harder and harder to see in the trees.  The trail wound all over the place, twisting and turning so much that I lost all sense of direction.  When I finally exited the woods onto a main trail, I had no idea where I was and where to go.  After a quarter of mile, I finally caught a glince of the river and realized I was heading deeper into the park with dwindling light.  After turning around, I finally found my way out of the park.  Sarah told me I was a dork for describing my experience this way, but here goes.  The windy trail through the woods looked and felt like the scary woods where Rabbit, Pooh and Piglet went to lose Tigger and trick him into giving up his bounce.  It was a cool experience, not at all scary.  I hope I can find that trail again.
After getting home, I had to hose off my bike, shoes, and well, my whole person.  I was one filthy, muddy mess.  I look forward to my next Riverfornt Park trip.