Animal Magnetism

It hardly seems fair. In fact, it must be some nefarious plot. Everyone in my family sees more interesting stuff while cycling out on the road than I do. Now, I’m no randonneur, but at least I put in anywhere from 600 to 1800 miles a year. Yet it’s always the guys who end up witnessing the coolest sights, even though those two offspring of mine hardly ride at all.

Back in July, Brent took Greg out for a ride of about 20 miles. When they got home they told me about passing several longhorn steer and a real, live buffalo wandering along by the road, unfenced. The only large, unfenced animal I have ever seen in that area was a roadkill wild pig.

In the Grandeur of Nature department, there was the Tour d’Italia (in the small but scenic town of Italy, Texas, not to be confused with the European nation) when Brent had a pigeon swoop down and fly alongside him for more than a mile. Seriously, this bird kept pace with him and stayed about four feet from his right shoulder the whole time. My “Grandeur of Nature” experience that year involved getting caught in a thunderstorm about 22 miles from home. Soaked to the bone within minutes, I dodged lightning for nine miles along the deserted backroads before finding shelter: a restaurant where I could use the phone. (While Brent was on his way to pick me up, the owner brewed coffee and loaned me some bar towels so I could warm up, mop up, and not die of pneumonia right there in his indoor-outdoor-carpeted lobby.)

You can see how disadvantaged I am. So, you might ask, why don’t you ride with Brent so that you, too, can enjoy cool animal sightings? I’ve tried that. Multiple times. What usually happens is that we will be pedaling with serene hearts along one of Brent’s favorite, peaceful blacktop roads when a sudden outburst of maniacal barking erupts, nearby and closing rapidly. Three results follow, as inevitable as the sunrise:
1) My heart stops.
2) Brent speeds up.
3) Eventually we get past the territorial canine, as I discuss at length in an earlier post. At this point, WITHOUT FAIL, Brent turns to me and says, in all seriousness, “I’ve never seen a dog here before!”

Dogs are almost the only creatures I seem to encounter. The only live creatures, that is. Apparently I just draw them out of thin air.

Only a few days ago Brent came home from a short warm-up ride and recounted seeing a rabbit sitting beside the road. When he got a little closer he could see a large lizard standing on the pavement. The lizard and rabbit were facing other and it looked, he said, almost as if the two were talking together. As he approached, both animals turned their heads toward him, then they both darted off in different directions. I am not kidding, and neither was he. Stuff like this really happens to him. Oh, sure, I had been out to ride just the morning before that. My wildlife sightings consisted of two flattened toads, a decomposing possum and a badly mangled pack of fries. Oh—never mind that last one.

With the deck stacked against me like that, next time I want to enjoy watching some of God’s critters I might just hang up the bike and tune in Animal Planet.

Thanks for reading!
–Tailwinds,
Jan

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