Whenever I encountered an angry, loose dog, I hopped off my bike, placed the bike between myself and the dog, and repeatedly demonstrated to the dog that the bike would be a formidable obstacle with which to deal if I chose to use it that way, and waited for the dog to get bored. Once, on a country highway near Amy, Arkansas, I tried to outrun the dog. I succeeded, but I must report that the stories that country mutt dogs lack stamina are grossly exaggerated. I found myself successful in eventually winning some reverse Iditarod, but ultimately having to lie by the side of the road, my energy reserves wasted. I learned that day that the "show the dog the bike" approach succeeded far better. I have always admired that the dogs, when shown the possible disadvantages of tangling with a metal bike frame, kept the discussion of the possibility on a purely intellectual level, and never tried to confront the issue head-on, as it were.
Eventually, the time would come that I would turn around and pedal home. I have a simple philosophy of biking--no heroics. If the day rendered me too exhausted to ride up a hill, then I walked the bike up the hill. If the day left me too exhausted to pedal all the way home,
then I hopped off and walked the bike. There's something wonderful about a gentle walk, bike in hand, with all those endorphins doing whatever they do after a vigorous ride.
I no longer have the Peugeot bike, although I cannot imagine why I did not keep refurbishing it ad infinitem. I have a mountain bike now, which I do not prefer to my road bike, because I like the feel of razor-thin tires on pavement, and I do not go off-road much. I haven't ridden my bike in a couple of years--the tires need air. The tires are those new-fangled tires that do not air as easily as the old fashioned ones, because instead of a convenient air access, it has some ornate system of rods in the inner tube air intake. I have had some wonderful rides on this bike--along the rim of the Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale, California, and all the way through the urban trail in Plano, Texas from my home to my brother's distant home. But I have gotten out of the rhythm.
But this morning I realize that I need to be on my bicycle again. I need to work up from three miles to five miles to ten miles to thirty miles. I need to commune with the things one can't really reach at the auto's sixty mile an hour pace nor the walker's three mile an hour pace. I need to be in that perfect middle way, where the world slips by ten miles each hour,
and I'm alone with my thoughts while pastures and fields spin by.