Dogs. Lots of dogs. No, I mean LOTS of dogs. How many dogs can you imagine? You say you can imagine a lot of dogs? No you can't. I have found perhaps the doggiest doggy road in the Southwest. Did I mention I found some dogs? I found enough dogs for a cheap imitation of Hitchcocks "the Birds"! Ok, well perhaps not that many dogs. Nevertheless I count my dogs encountered this morning by dozens.
This morning was the new commute. The first time I had got up the gumption to do an honest to goodness door to door commute by bike. My route has been in the making for some time while my knee has been healing. I had experimented with the bike path north of the airport but gang activity discouraged that route. My next idea was to take Gilbert north and ride the canal road acrossed the reservation to Chaparral road and then across Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. This option included some dirt road and I was a bit leary. I discovered in my perusal of this route though that Country Club, Alma Schoole and Dobson, are all paved acrossed the reservation up to Chaparral. The route was set. I would take Country Club north to Chaparral and end up at 31.5 miles. The best laid plans of Mice and men are often laid to waste though.
I managed to get out of the driveway at 6:10. I figured I needed roughly 2 hours to make the trip with some wiggle room. Ha. My trip acrossed Mesa was the usual fair. My new axle generator light saved me from hitting several potholes. Fairly quickly I was dropping off the Mesa on McKellips road and then I turned onto Country Club. Acrossed the bridge I turned too early. I ended up getting onto Extension instead of Country Club. This would eventually save me some mileage incidentally but cost me a lot of extra time.
The first few miles of Extension heading north through the reservation were fairly calm with a school bus in the distance stopping to get kids. I would catch up a little bit at every stop until he turned. Around this time the dogs started. The first two (yes, there are no lonely dogs on the reservation, they all hang around in groups I discovered) were a Golden retriever and some other dog. They chased for a bit but after getting yelled at a few times they called off the chase. Many of the dogs I encountered did this. I figure I was chased by around 10 groups of 2-4 dogs. Two encounters gave me some pause.
The first one was passing an old abandoned house. Around 5 or 6 dogs came galloping out, fortunately there was a chainlink fence between us but had it not been there things could have gotten scary. Ferral dogs running in a pack are something you don't want to mess with unless you are armed with a semi-automatic weapon or have a sizeable club or are bruce lee or something like that. The other was two pitbulls that came after me.
The pitbull I have been told by some dog lovers is a misunderstood breed. Yeah right. I got chased by over 30 dogs this morning and only one breed gave me prolonged trouble despite repeated yelling and threats sworn. The pitbull is a dangerous breed as far as I am concerned. Yeah they can be cuddly and nice. So can Charles Manson when he wants to be. The two dogs specifed came after me and I yelled at them and they didn't even pause. I kept pedalling but noticed everytime I turned away from them they came in closer so I had to ride watching my back. We were cruising along at 18 mph and they were just running along. The one on the right came in close so I kicked at him. On the second kick I connected with his jaw. On second thought this could have been a bad move if he had bit my foot but luck was with me. He paused a minute and then came right on in chasing again. Approaching a half mile into the chase I could see them slowing down. I slowed with them. If these D*%#$# dogs were going to chase me I was going tempt them to over exert and possibly get lost. Maybe they would fall prey to a pack of rabid zombie coyotes out in the desert. I know it was perhaps rather low of me to wish ill upon these hounds of fury but I was ticked. So every time it seemed like they were about to give up, I slowed down just enough to tempt them into keeping up the chase. I got another few hundred yards or so on this. I should have turned around and chased their exhausted sorry behinds around the res a bit just for revenge but I had to get to work.
The hounds had the last laugh in the end. Having turned on to Chaparral I made the discovery that I had a flat tire on the back. The culprit was a goathead thorn which I had picked up the time I veered onto the shoulder while being chased by the hounds. In fact, after much patching and pumping it turned out to be many Goatheads. I spent around an hour patching one of my tubes and finally giving up on the front tube and putting a new tube in the front tire. I had more holes than I could count. I figure I patched 3 holes in the back tire and I gave up on the front after 4 or 5. Once I was finally on my way again, the sun was shining bright and I ran into my last set of dogs which gave up chase when a rather large automobile honked at them and scared them away. I guess cars are a lot scarier to a dog than a man in tights and a flourescent green jersey on a bicycle.
Extension is being taken off the commuting route. Searching satellite photos it appears that I would run into far fewer house if I head west on Oak and North on Dobson. Dobson has the added bonus of being not too far from the freeway so although slightly less rural, perhaps dog owners in the interest of keeping that $$$$ expensive dog from getting creamed on the freeway opt to keep them contained. We will see on Wednesday.
On with the journey! My guess that Pima road had little traffic on it these days due to the freeway was spot on. It didn't have wide shoulders but there was only an occasional car so it worked. McDonald had a nice bikelane for aways. As I got closer to Camelback Mountain and entered Paradise Valley it stopped. It still wasn't a bad road for riding though. I turned north On mockingbird which was a mistake as I should have held out to Tatum. It didn't turn out to be a critical error though as I didn't have any issues riding down Lincoln like I thought I might if I got onto it too soon.
There were some nice rollers through here and I was pleasantly surprised by the views as I rode alongside the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Piestewa peak. I could look down on downtown Phoenix enshrouded in all it's brown cloud glory. I actually had some hills on this commute! No more am I to be jealous of Bruce for his scenic commutes! Much of this section reminds of pictures he has on his blog looking down the hills on his commute.
I got into work late you might have guessed, but I think this commute route will work. I am going to expunge Extension. The rest of the route is primo though. The final section is extremely scenic skirting the bottoms of both Camelback mtn and Piestewa peak. I might invest in a set of Armidillos though, just in case I find a few more goatheads waiting for an unsuspecting traveler.