Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It's been quite a while since this blog has deviated from its traditional formula, so today I wanted to share a surreal anecdote from Sunday afternoon. SS and I had just started a short bike ride on a route of his choosing, and I was doing my best to keep up with him along the bike path*. The weather was foreboding, but the path was bustling and we were zipping our way past sidewinders and their ilk, having an all-around splendid time.**
Shortly after passing Trader Joe's, I noticed a small Gray Squirrel (Scurius Carolinensis) bounding down the trail in our lane, not more than 30 yards in front of us. As SS saw it first, he managed to gracefully swerve around it and keep going. I, in my prescient glory assumed that if I held my line, this squirrel would concede my dominance and hop on his merry way.*** Well, my friend, do not play chicken with a squirrel.
By the time I got within 20 feet of him, he was no longer moving and had instead chosen to sit on his haunches and stare at me. It was now clear that he wasn't going anywhere and I had no choice but to brake. Of course, in all this commotion I forgot I was clipped into my pedals and had to do a "desperate leg flail" to keep from falling over into the grass. When the dust settled, I had stopped LITERALLY an inch from his eyeball. An inch from his tiny snout and tinier brain. It was like a movie. This is about the time things took a turn for the bizarre.
As long as SS was the only person witnessing this rodent shaming, I was more amused than embarrassed. But this squirrel had other plans for me. As I was concerned for his well being, I took this opportunity to try and shoo him out of the path by wiggling my bike tire back and forth and tapping his arse. No response. In fact, he continued to look at me with a glint of amusement in his eye. Flabbergasted, I decided that if this squirrel had a death wish, who was I to stop him? I got off my bike, lifted it over him, and began to clip in again. At the sight of this, the squirrel instantly did a 180, ran over to my bike, and proceeded to climb in/around my spokes like a miniature jungle gym. SS was laughing further down the trail at my plight, but was more probably more confused at this point, as it had been nearly 5 minutes since we first encountered the creature.
I managed to intimidate him off my bike with my bike shoes (no small feat), and started walking my bike down the trail at a healthy clip, hoping to get enough of a lead on him that I could clip in and get started before he climbed on again. Of course, people were running/biking all around me during this, and the squirrel was relentlessly hopping after me like Night of the Living Dead. It was emasculating, and strangely terrifying. I began to wonder if the squirrel had rabies and wanted to infect me. I inspected his gait for wobbles and his face for frothing. He seemed normal, but I didn't want to find out first hand. By the time I had gotten a good 30 feet ahead of him, I decided to clip in. Like a teenage girl trying to start her car in a horror movie, I frantically slid my foot all around my pedal trying to get it to clip in, but I was too slow. He had caught me again. This time he was even more curious than before, entangling himself in my bike chain and winding around my frame; all the while staring at me with his cold dead eyes. I had half a mind to walk my bike over to the grass and let him have his way with it and tell SS I would catch up with him later.
Rather than forever be known as the man who lost his bike to a squirrel, I decided to shake the squirrel off one final time and make a run for it. After I pried his little paws off, I ran my bike down the path until I was a hundred feet away from him (he was running again at this point), felt the hearty snap of my shoes in the pedals, and left him in my dust. I asked SS if we could take another route home because I didn't want to deal with him again, or more likely, discover his freshly killed body. If the events that just transpired were any indication, an animal that dumb did not have long left on this fair earth.
Miraculously, we biked out and back without incident and saw no sign of him as we passed the spot again. I theorize that he shacked up with the Albino Squirrel and they are grooming an albino army to take back the bike trail.
* I'm convinced there is something wrong with my bike or my bike shoes or my helmet or something other than me because I cannot keep up with SS whatsoever. He has acknowledged (probably for my pride) that I can make mincemeat out of him on a run.
**As far as "social" exercising goes, I greatly prefer trying to hold a conversation while running over biking. In fact, the only athletic activity harder to converse during is swimming and that's debatable.
***I was once told a horror story from a reputable source that involved someone biking over a squirrel only to have it get tangled up in his chain, causing him to fall over his handlebars and become a paraplegic.****