Monday, January 28, 2013

I was a bicycle cowboy! No, really!

Sunday I set off on a two-hour upper aerobic ride. I ended up doing it as 8-mile loops of my favorite valley road because upon venturing off, I encountered ice on shaded road sections (it was 31 degrees). I had many laps to think about how much I love this nearby valley road with its wide shoulder, bike lanes, and gently rolling hills that take me past a meandering stream, horses, sheep, and cows, under railroad tracks, and all set against a gorgeous Appalachian mountainous backdrop. Today's adventure only made me love it more.

About 1:20 into the ride I saw a cow running up a gravel driveway with two young guys giving chase. On the previous lap I'd seen a stock trailer pull into the property (and I wondered if the cows were cold in the trailer) and I figured she'd gotten loose getting off the trailer. The cow was now running along the outside of the fence line, toward the road, with a row of bushes on the other side of her.

Without much thought, I stopped my Garmin (can't mess up the data!), unclipped, and used my bike (and bright yellow-jacketed self) to try to cut off her escape and keep her pinned between the shrubbery and fence. I am a former horse-girl but have limited cow experience so it was all cow-psychology guesswork.

My bike "barrier" worked only briefly, then she barreled past me, with the guys in hot pursuit. I jumped back on the bike and sprinted down the road to get ahead of her, cut her off, and warn oncoming traffic. She stopped, jumped the guardrail, and tried to get between strands of barbed wire. I kept my distance and stayed still not wanting her to panic and do serious damage to herself.

The cow freed herself, jumped back over the guard rail and started back down the road. I was holding up my bike and trying to scare her into turning around, with an outstretched yellow arm stopping traffic!

She was not scared, but suddenly I was!! I wondered if she was going to run me over and saw up close how ginormous (and very cute) she was.

This scene popped into my head!
One more bike sprint and I got her turned around. She jumped (more like clambered over) the guardrail a final time and made her way successfully between strands of barbed wire and into a field belonging to her owners. (Top photo is her in the field.)

Looney between the guardrail and fence

The owner drove up and explained that the cow, named "Looney", is claustrophobic and pregnant, due to have her third calf sometime after the 10th of next month. 

I guess Looney was just in the mood for some adventure, and it turns out, so was I! (And I even set a "cold temp" bike ride PR for myself, starting out with it at 28 degrees.) You never know where triathlon training may lead you.

(.... and online you can find an image of nearly ANYTHING!!)