My stoker and I completed our first tour on our new tandem on Sunday. As part of the tour, we came across a situation on the road and I would like to read your thoughts about it.
The situation: Rolling (15-16mph) down a country two-lane that is about to dead-end at a "T". The route calls for us to turn left. There is a stop sign, but no traffic anywhere so the plan is to slow and "roll" through the stop sign, making the left, very slowly. As we approach the intersection, I see 75 pounds of dog standing in the road at about the apex of the left turn I'm about to make. I can't tell at this point if the dog appears to be aggressive or not.
What I did: I stopped the tandem and told my stoker to get off and keep the bike between her and the dog. I paddle walked the bike past the dog....who watched us a little but didn't appear to be too interested. I then had my stoker get back on and we went on to complete the windy portion of the tour.
What I was thinking: Well, I've got LOTS of miles on road bikes, but less than 100 on the tandem...and I admit I'm a bit of a nervous captain what with the precious cargo (my fiancee) stoking. I don't want to drop the bike and my fiancee with a possibly aggressive dog right there. I don't have a good feel for the limits of the tandem's ability to make "evasive" maneauvers. I was also not comfortable enough to go for the tried-and-true water bottle trick with the dog. Even if the dog isn't aggressive, if we just continue to make the turn, (s)he could move and get in our path and knock us down. That could also end badly. My solution seemed (and still seems) reasonable to me given all the variables. My stoker thinks that by having her get off the bike, I was "feeding her to the wolves" so to speak. I told her I can keep the bike between her and the dog more easily with her off of it. I'm working hard to remember "Rule #1" (The stoker makes no mistakes ) so I'm looking for thoughts about what I can do better.
The bottom line: All my worries were moot, the dog just stood there. I could have just ridden around him. To some extent, I did the "right" thing...we ended the ride in at least as good condition as we started. I'm just wondering if there's a better "right" thing I could have done! What are the strategies of experienced tandem teams when it comes to doggies in the road? If it wasn't for the turn, we would have just slowed and sprinted had the dog taken up the chase...the turn complicated things for me.
Many thanks for any thoughts you might have.