Why do dogs chase bikes? It’s a heart-stopping, adrenalin-pumping situation when they come charging out of nowhere, running at full speed toward a bike rider. Although the size of the dog generally doesn’t matter, it’s a whole different problem when they are Pit Bulls that appear to weigh 85 pounds or more. That was the case for me the other day while I was riding along a quiet street in Southwest Detroit. Two of those scary, muscular animals came tearing down a flight of porch steps at full speed, focusing directly on me, while barking and snarling.
“Damn!” I said to myself as I braked and swung around and headed back the way I came before the dogs could reach me. As panic set in, my heart felt like it was exploding. I momentarily lost my train of thought before realizing I had to get the heck out of there quickly. So I automatically reacted by shifting into high gear to gain speed and momentum.
Unfortunately, I down shifted rather than up, and that panic move made me lose all my power because the pedals were free spinning at such a low gear. Luckily I realized right away what was happening and was able to grab the higher gear and slowly built-up speed as the dogs quickly approached.
One of the dogs was white and tan, and he seemed to be the leader. He was at my lower left leg barking and snarling before I knew it. That menacing dog was so close I could feel his hot breath on my calf.
The other was black, and he was on my right side close to my rear wheel and closing on me. Together they had me boxed in like books squeezed between cast iron bookends, and both were charging at my legs. Fortunately, they didn’t go at them at the same time, allowing me to lift a leg as one approached and pedal with the other.
I knew I could not out-pedal them in the short run like this, but realized that once I got up to speed, I could probably get away before one of them latched onto one of my legs.
Knowing dogs can’t turn quickly, I decided to zigzag down the street to the end of the block and once there, take a sharp turn down a different street. That strategy worked, but only on the black dog. It threw him off stride, and thankfully he stopped the chase half way down the block.
The white and tan monster was another story. I couldn’t get him to break stride. He finally gave up when I turned sharply in his direction a couple of times, almost clipping him in the face with my rear tire and spokes. Fortunately, I didn’t fall, and there were no approaching cars when I came up to the intersection and turned. As I did so, I glanced over my left shoulder and both were standing tall in the street watching me pedal away.
Needless to say, it took me a while before I was able to settle down and get my heart rate back to normal. No matter how prepared you think you might be for situations that involve hostile dogs while riding a bike, it’s always a surprising and dangerous situation when it happens. As the sign reads, “Beware of Dogs”.