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  1. #1
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    Riding Strategy (Man's best friend)...

    Greetings!

    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.

    Best regards!
    Jim

  2. #2
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    Seems like you handled an unpredictable situation in a very cautious way and came through fine. What more is there to say?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Good topic! Now we all get to tell our dog stories.

    My wife just talks baby talk to the dogs. "Hello baybee. How you doing bowser? Come'on and say hello to us. How are you doing chasing all those nasty bicycles today?" Mostly they just prance along side for a while and gradually lose interest and look for another bicyclist to eat.

    We were following another couple on a tandem rally in Mississippi when a dog came out to greet us. The stoker on the other bike calmly took a co2 horn thingie from out of the caprtain's jersey and gave the dog a short very high pitched "toot". That dog stopped in his tracks like he had run into an invisible glass wall. I've never found where to buy one but I admit that I haven't tried very hard.

    When my son was about 12, he and I were on an organized ride in Illinois with 5 other people on single bikes. As we passed a farmhouse a pack of 5 bikes came out to greet us. As I watched, each of the other riders grabbed a pump or water bottle, one woman had some kind of high tech device. My son and I did nothing. As the group settled out, each of the 5 single riders had a barking dog running alongside while my son and I, who were doing nothing to disuade them, were left alone.

    My best dog story was from a trip in southern Michigan. A dog came running full speed down a 200' grassy hill toward us. My riding partner shouted "Sit!" That dog planted all four legs and rolled over twice before coming to a stop in a perfect sit position.

    My conclusion from all of these experiences is that dogs really do smell fear and tend to prey on the most fearful bicyclists. I sure hope that I'm right.

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    All in all, sounds like you handled things just fine.

    Rule #1 to safe cycling is to be comfortable with your equipment and ride within your limits; I think you did that.

    Rule #1 of dogs is, expect the unexpected and leave yourself room to manuever. Stopping altogether usually takes all the fun and excitement away from a dog's interest in you in the first place. You seemed to have done that too.

    With more experience on the bike and with your stoker, perhaps a future encounter would yield a different strategy, e.g., steer wide while your stoker arms herself with a waterbottle "just in case" the dog needs a shot of water in the snout.

  5. #5
    SDS
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    You need more resources. You didn't have any choices. If your stoker had pepper spray that worked, she wouldn't have worried about getting fed to the wolves. **** whistle works really well with nearly all dogs too.

    If you are off the bike and the dog holds still, that's a chance to pet a dog and make a friend. I have a few Labrador friends stashed here and there who love to lick the salt off me.

    When you can't predict the future, it is impossible to say if there was a better "right' thing you could have done. As long as the choice you made works out, you have to leave it at that. Every once in a while my stoker and I will decide we have a slow leak and stop to inspect the tires. Invariably (so far) the tires are fine. Having previously had some undesirable experiences with flat tires, we are bothered not at all by being wrong, because we gain peace of mind by inspecting the fully inflated tires.

  6. #6
    Older Than Dirt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Good topic! Now we all get to tell our dog stories.

    <snip>
    We were following another couple on a tandem rally in Mississippi when a dog came out to greet us. The stoker on the other bike calmly took a co2 horn thingie from out of the caprtain's jersey and gave the dog a short very high pitched "toot". That dog stopped in his tracks like he had run into an invisible glass wall. I've never found where to buy one but I admit that I haven't tried very hard. <snip>
    Most self-respecting marine supply houses will have a miniature freon horn for little money. Try West marine on line. http://westmarine.com/

    When I was in high school we had a dog in the neighborhood that chased bicycles and motorcycles. He knocked over a couple of kids on bikes and bit my girl friend when he attacked her motorcycle. We armed ourselves with a 6 inch clay flowerpot full of very hard dirt. I got on the motorcycle behind my girl friend and we motored past the doggie's home. Out he came and I crowned him with the pot. He never chased anything again. As a matter of fact, he spent most of his days after this just sitting around looking stupid.

    Doc
    Last edited by DocF; 05-17-05 at 04:41 AM.
    Say Ya to da Yoop, eh!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I can't find the exact quote (Throeau?) but it was something along the lines of "If a dog starts to come at you, you should call it".

  8. #8
    Senior Member mtbcyclist's Avatar
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    Rule #1 of dogs is, expect the unexpected and leave yourself room to manuever. Stopping altogether usually takes all the fun and excitement away from a dog's interest in you in the first place. You seemed to have done that too.

    Good rule. I had a dog playfully running beside me. I was not afraid as he did not look intmidating and there are lots of dogs on this particualar route. While I was pedaling along at a good cadence I feel a light "chomp". Yep he nipped me in the leg while pedaling. Since I was pedaling he did not get me that good. In the end it worked out ok because that was in my single days and I had this great looking neighbor I was trying to date who of all things was a nurse. She took care of me. No, I am not recommending all you fellas out there to get a dog bite to win over a nurse either. Got cleaned up and went back to the site to track down the owner to check if the dog had its rabbies shots and the dog did but and I think the red neck owner was over due for hers. She told me to go ride around some other country roads. Hmmm.... I'm a tax payer and have rights, well at least not in her eyes.

    Sorry for the thread drift but I think you did the right thing. Especially since you too are NOT married yet (good luck with the wedding). Thats what I would have done and I will be in the same boat as you in about a month after the new bike tandem shows up.
    Last edited by mtbcyclist; 05-17-05 at 07:48 PM.

  9. #9
    cut my gas use in half Jessica's Avatar
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    Air Zound is a horn that runs by compressed air, the same air from the same pump that pumps up your tires... no freon, no CO2, just good ol' clean air. Having read this thread, now i have another reason for carrying mine! (I got it for ignorant blind motorists making illegal turns...)
    And I am sure there are other choices I haven't thought of, yet...

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    You had options and you did what you were comfortable with.
    Yes, blow a very loud/shrill whistle (on a lanyard around stoker's neck) that will usually break the dog's limited concentration.
    Also yell: "Get off the couch!" . . . seems to work for us.

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