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Old 02-18-11, 10:43 AM   #1
KillerBeagle
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Crazy ride yesterday - wind, rattles and dogs

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?
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Old 02-18-11, 11:08 AM   #2
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I hope someone gives you an answer because I am more afraid of the dogs than people on our trails. Someone said
bear spray. But if it isn't in my hand at the time what good would it be?
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Old 02-18-11, 11:21 AM   #3
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Using a water bottle to just spray a bit of water at them works. By "works", I mean the dog will veer away from it and slow down. If you are "at speed", it should give you the margin to get by the dog and have a decent lead before the dog regains its pursuit (it usually will not).
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Old 02-18-11, 12:57 PM   #4
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I lived in Fresno a long time. I used to go out riding through the orchards and farms. I encounted lots of farm dogs. They chase you (1) because you are moving and (2) they don't know you.

The best and only way to deal with dogs is to stop, put the bike between you and dog and stare the dog down and in a firm and loud voice say "GO HOME!" Pretty much the dogs will stop in their tracks. Most will just turn around but some would stay and assess the situation. I would just stand my ground (again with the bike between us) and say firmly, "GO HOME". Eventually the dog will turn around. After several weeks, the dogs should stop bothering you all together. Remember never show fear and don't allow yourself to be chased unless you know you can outlast a dog. Remember dogs can be tireless chasers.
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Old 02-18-11, 01:10 PM   #5
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Hit the brakes hard to drop behind them, shift into low gear, and start chasing one of the dogs. Roar at the top of your lungs and stay on his tail until he leaves the area.

Paul
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Old 02-18-11, 01:27 PM   #6
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We had a stupid neighbor with 3 pit bulls that would get turned in at least once a week. They got loose during the day. Every neighbor around here turned them in one time or another. Police killed one. Took the two others away
fined them $500. each time. They scared me to death. I always walked slow and never turned my back. And called
911. I am sorry but I really hate those dogs. The owners were mean to them as well. They lost their home and
had to move. It took 2 years to get them out. Thank God. Living in the country people feel they are free to do what they want. It is getting crowded here now with all the new developments.

I have also witness some crazy fights with adults in their 50s on the rail/trails near us as well. I haven't seen any one pull out a gun yet but I suppose it wouldn't be no surprise if it happened.


The pack of dogs still worry me.
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Old 02-18-11, 02:25 PM   #7
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Wow- I would not have known what to do facing three dogs. About a month ago, 3 of us came up on a menacing dog on the San Gabriel River Trail. The dog was baring teeth and barking at a couple of walkers and trying to attack their dog. We stopped to let some of the chaos subside and one of walkers offered me the longish, large (about 1.5' diameter) stick he had used to keep the dog at bay. So we remounted the bikes and took off with me holding the stick out like the silliest imitation of a knight ever seen. Thankfully the dog spied another animal and ran off in another direction. I have no idea what I would have actually done with that stick had that dog stayed around.

I'm going to look into the Halt solution. We always see stray dogs on that trail.
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Old 02-18-11, 02:27 PM   #8
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Sharp object? Bad idea.
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Old 02-18-11, 05:09 PM   #9
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I'm being deliberately vague to avoid offending those who would rather become dog food than defend themselves with potentially lethal force, but I'm referring to a folding sharp object in a sheath, often worn by law enforcement personnel.

I'm riding alone in areas with traffic less than 1 car per hour and very few houses - in this case besides the dog's home the nearest house was a mile away. If my niece is with me, I feel even more responsibility to be prepared for any circumstance.

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Old 02-18-11, 07:40 PM   #10
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I guess you could always go "old school" with this http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/711101-Cyclists-Protect-Yourselves-from-Dogs-with-a-Vintage-French-Velo-Dog-Revolver!?highlight=french+velo+dog+gun

It's not really my style, but it does show that this problem has been with us a while, like since the invention of the bicycle with pedals.
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Old 02-18-11, 07:42 PM   #11
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I have been riding bicycles through areas fiercely defended by dogs since I was a young lad. I have been chased by some of the most ferocious critters you could imagine. I have been bitten a couple of times, never badly enough to require a bandage. I respect them, but I am not afraid of them. My biggest fear is not getting bitten, but having the dumb animal stop in front of me and running into it.

Most dogs will stop pursuing me if I simply tell them "NO", just as their owner would or as I would my own dogs. Some are a little more persistent but will slow down or stop when I raise my hand in the air while commanding them to "stop" and "get back in your yard". If they continue and get close to me, a spray from a water bottle will turn most dogs around.

In the rare worst case where the dog is hell bent on attacking, I will stop my bike and put it between the dog and me. This happened a few times when I was a child, before I learned how to command dogs with my voice. It has happened no more than a couple of times as an adult.

The old adage is true. Dogs can sense fear. If you are not in charge of the dog, it will be in charge of you.

One thing I always remember when riding in a group. I don't have to be faster than the dog. I just need to be faster than one of the people I'm riding with.

Last edited by BluesDawg; 02-18-11 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 02-18-11, 08:23 PM   #12
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I have been riding bicycles through areas fiercely defended by dogs since I was a young lad. I have been chased by some of the most ferocious critters you could imagine. I have been bitten a couple of times, never badly enough to require a bandage. I respect them, but I am not afraid of them. My biggest fear is not getting bitten, but having the dumb animal stop in front of me and running into it.

Most dogs will stop pursuing me if I simply tell them "NO", just as their owner would or as I would my own dogs. Some are a little more persistent but will slow down or stop when I raise my hand in the air while commanding them to "stop" and "get back in your yard". If they continue and get close to me, a spray from a water bottle will turn most dogs around.

In the rare worst case where the dog is hell bent on attacking, I will stop my bike and put it between the dog and me. This happened a few times when I was a child, before I learned how to command dogs with my voice. It has happened no more than a couple of times as an adult.

The old adage is true. Dogs can sense fear. If you are not in charge of the dog, it will be in charge of you.

One thing I always remember when riding in a group. I don't have to be faster than the dog. I just need to be faster than one of the people I'm riding with.
+1 to that. That's exactly what I do.
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Old 02-18-11, 08:40 PM   #13
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Hit the brakes hard to drop behind them, shift into low gear, and start chasing one of the dogs. Roar at the top of your lungs and stay on his tail until he leaves the area.

Paul
Wrong- for an aggressive dog, and this case sounds like a pretty aggressive dog, fighting and a challenge is what they want. Halt, more halt and more halt. Sometimes the halt is better from a standing position.
I generally ignore dogs. I do not look at them, , I do not race away from them, I do not fight them. Just keep pedaling at your rate with no interaction.
If I sprint away, the dog wins. " Gosh I chased him off"
If I stop , the dog thinks I win again.
If I try battle, again the dog is the winner.
I do carry halt but use it only as a last resort. I never try to kick or hit it, certainly not while moving- a recipe for a fall and disaster.
I often hear the water bottle thing. Have tried it a few times and it was worthless.
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Old 02-19-11, 03:58 PM   #14
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When going through the indian reservation dogs can be a problem. I don't think some of then understand english. I think there owners speak in their native tongue. Raid wasp and hornet spray works well. It sprays about 15 feet and fits nicely in your water bottle cage.
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Old 02-19-11, 04:43 PM   #15
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That's mean.
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Old 02-19-11, 08:32 PM   #16
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If I use Halt on a dog, the dog is going to be very close. I wait "until I can see the whites of their eyes" then let them have it. If they aren't that close there is no sense in spraying them.
Something I've noticed lately. I have a lot of confidence in Halt. When some big mean dog comes plowing after me I grab the Halt and my attention is fixed on the dog. I don't just make eye contact, I glare at them. I'm looking where I'll be spraying. Most of the time the dog seems to sense that I mean business and they decide not to get too close to me. The ones that do get chili oil in the puss. I haven't had to actually spray many lately.
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Old 02-20-11, 11:29 AM   #17
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I decided my new formula was:
1. air horn while moving
2. stop and spray Halt

Yesterday, not 2 miles from Thursday's incident, I came across 2 dogs who had run almost half a mile from their house when they saw me coming. One a dachshund, not much to worry about except ankle damage if I couldn't punt it fast enough, but another a large furry thing with its ruff up. I had no choice but to stop in this case as I was at a T and a farm truck/trailer was coming my direction using the whole (narrow) road.
The dachshund stopped as soon as I dismounted, while the big dog came closer but stopped in his tracks when I used the horn. However, as I got back on and started moving, the big one came back. Since I used up my Halt in the last episode, I dismounted again, and reached for some rocks. The simple act of reaching down sent him running 10 yards away, and one throw and they were fleeing towards home. Apparently they have some learning from prior encounters... but the "reach down" may be another trick to add to the list of defenses.
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