Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Attacked on the bike path

Last weekend Connie and I took a long weekend to go to Ames and Des Moines for some visiting and shopping. We left Thursday with plans to spend the night in Ames then go to Des Moines on Friday and Saturday night. I took my bike in the hopes of riding some of the bike paths in the Des Moines area while Connie was shopping. Thursday afternoon with the bright sun and slight breezes gave me the first chance to ride. Connie was meeting a friend in Des Moines for lunch before heading to Ames so I was going to meet her at the hotel around 5:00 as the sun set.

My ride started out un-eventful as I pedalled from Des Moines to Waukee then on to Adel along the Raccoon River bike path. Once to Adel I wanted to head towards Ames on county roads to Sailorville reservoir and then north on the new High Trestle Trail that runs from Polk City to Slater before riding the just completed bike lane that goes from Slater to Ames. This road is one block from Christopher's apartment and two blocks from our hotel. The goal was to get 60-70 miles of riding by dark.

You hear of problems on bike paths with people placing wires across them or riders being attacked in non-populated areas. I don't ride many trails but have never known anyone who has had problems. Normally, for a cyclist, you are safer on the path then risking your life playing with hurried motorists.

I was just leaving the small town of Sheldalh, 15 miles south of Ames, when I noticed him standing at the grassy edge of the newly constructed trail. He was looking towards me but I got the impression he wasn't looking directly at me. As I peddled near him he was startled and began running on my right side the same direction I was headed. This type of strange behavior I have seen in dogs before but this time it was not a dog that was chasing me. After 10 yards of shadowing me he made his move. He suddenly lunged in my direction like you see squirrels do in the road when they are not sure which direction to go. He hit my front wheel and bounce down to the ground. I reactively dogged to the left running part of him over with the back wheel as I struggled to keep my balance. My heart was racing as I looked back to see what his next move would be. Would he lay on the trail in pain, come after me, or just run out of sight. He chose to run away.

Not sure what to do I continued down the trail trying to get my heart back into my chest. As I looked down I noticed my computer was not working. For this I stopped. Heaven forbid I ride any miles without them counting. It was at this time I noticed the magnet on my front wheel was gone. That must have been what he was after the entire time. He must have been a collector of magnets.

If you are in that area please beware of suspicious looking cats that have collars of bike magnets. Unless you are prepared to aggressively defend yourself you could be the next helpless victim.

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