Yesterday was the oddest ride I've had in quite a while. I was dying to get out on the bike - I work Mon-Wed and always look forward to my Thursday ride. Wind was sustained at 21MPH avg with gusts in the 30's according to my weather station, but I REALLY wanted to get out anyway. I worked out a route that let me ride with a tailwind on the one busy section of road that I hit.
Starting with a tailwind, I immediately noticed this fairly loud knock/rattle coming from the front end. Now, having raced in the 70's and done all my own mechanic work, I'm not a novice by any means, but these newfangled carbon forks and different headsets, fork tubes and spacers are new to me. It was happening on any rough stretch of road or bumps, and it seemed LOUD. "Here doggy, come and get me, I'm giving you lots of notice". I was really starting to get worried that the fork was going to collapse on me, so I was braking on downhills afraid of a crash.
My first thought was to what might have changed since I last rode. I had just installed a Topeak Road Morph pump on the seat tube bottle holder mounts (I really wanted it under the top tube but the brake cable was rubbing on the mount - if anyone has any ideas how to get that to fit let me know). So, I grabbed the pump, but it was tight as could be. Then I started checking for cable rubs against the bars and head tube, loose front skewer, etc but found nothing. I stopped twice but could not find loose components and could not make the noise happen.
By this time I had actually missed the turnoff to the route that would let me have a tailwind on the busy road. I was thinking about aborting the ride but took one last look at the pump. I finally noticed that the pump handle had slid down and was tapping the tubes right about at the joint at the bottom bracket. I removed the pump and reinstalled it right-side up, and the noise went away! Somehow the tapping way down at the bottom translated to sound in the front end.
Moral of this section: trust your instincts! If I had taken my first thought further, I would have found the problem right away.
With all the strangeness of that first part of the ride, I missed ANOTHER turnoff, so decided to try another bypass I had seen on the map (and actually driven) that let me avoid another section of busy road. Riding that way, I saw a lab cross in the road in front of a fairly isolated non-farm house, but wasn't too concerned because labs typically aren't too agressive. Unfortunately as I got close to the house, he started barking, and out came an Australian shepard-mix and a large Rott-pit bull type. I had my Halt out - I was heading into the wind at that point and felt little chance of outrunning them. They had a well-coordinated attack in that they took both sides of the bike so I couldn't dismount safely on either side. I got a little Halt on the lab that stopped him, but I missed the shepard and the spray was ineffective on the pit bull. All this time I'm yelling "No", "Go home" etc.
The shepard got very close to my left so I kicked and that seemed to back him off. The pit bull remained on the right with no signs of giving up, but being alone now I was able to dismount and he stopped.
I'm pretty comfortable with dogs (we have 5) and have been an assistant instructor in obedience classes in our dog club when we lived in Idaho, but this is one case where I was fearful for life and limb. I'm going to call the sheriff and report the dogs per instructions from our local cycling club. Now I need to get over the scare and come up with a plan to feel more comfortable as I venture further from home.
It's almost always windy here so relying on Halt alone is not sufficient. I saw another thread where air horns were mentioned and 10 Wheels was kind enough to give me some pointers on where to find them. I may still carry Halt and/or a sharp object for close encounters, but I need a better strategy. I know a lot of folks swear by stopping to remove the "chase" aspect, but in this situation I would not have been able to keep my bike between me and the 3 dogs.
What would you do?