Random choices create unexpected consequences when running dogs off-leash.
A regular day running the dogs on my mountain bike turned inexplicably into one of the worse days of my life. Unfortunately the event occurred on the side of a mountain and my car sat at the bottom. Not that I should have driven home anyways. But these events tend to compound poor decisions into worse circumstances, especially when a painful broken nose bloodies the waters.
It all started innocuously enough...
Where can I run my dogs off leash?
Our regular hiking trails here in BC usually dovetail into mountain bike trails throughout the Pacific Northwest. If I had my choice, I'd travel to a deactivated logging road and scan the scene for trails. On this morning, the boys and I arrived at the parking lot of a dormant woodlot and went through our pre-biking routine.
I walked to the rear of the Subaru Legacy wagon. The dogs were accustomed to looking for my commands before leaving the car. I motioned the commands for the dogs through the window.
‘Sit’ (snapping of the fingers)
‘Stay’ (palm up towards them)
The dogs sat expectantly, wagging their tails and eager to bound out of the vehicle. The hatch opened, the dogs waited and I unloaded the bike from the roof rack. After suiting up, we were ready.
“Ok!” I said and the dogs blasted off into the Pacific Northwest forest.
I’d biked the trail on countless occasions. The route was fixed in my head. The dogs explored the yellow cedar and Douglas Fir forest while I spun up the gravel road with the suspension locked out on my Specialized Enduro mountain bike. The climb was the same. The gentle hills and corners welcomed our efforts until the first plateau transitioned into a short fast descent that exhilarated our senses. The spur road junction offered a familiar choice. Climb further up the logging road for a return trip on the faster and sleeker gravel road, or turn right into the forest.
The dogs always turned right. They arrived before me every time. Excited. Eager. Tails wagging. Eyes alight with expectation. I hopped off my bike, lowered the seat, adjusted the shocks and tightened my helmet.
Knowing what I know now, my cheap hard shell skater helmet should have been upgraded months earlier.