Friday, July 8, 2011

Je t'aime, Ziggy, Je t'aime

Time for an update!  I am very pleased to report that we have raised just over $700 for our courage classic ride!   You all are most excellent and generous friends, and I will reward you with a story of grand excitement and odors.

Well the big plan for the 4th of July was to volunteer at our local 5K race in the morning, the Firecracker 5, then ride Rist canyon, then take the dogs up into the mountains so as to avoid the noisy, scary fireworks display.  One out of three isn’t bad, right?

The 5K race was a lot of fun and we saw a bunch of our running friends volunteering and racing.  Our super hero Nicole won the women’s race and set a course record to boot!  Celeste and I were put in charge of the bike storage area, which seemed appropriate considering the courage classic.  The race was encouraging participants to ride to the event and provided a secure storage area for bikes, and even a special raffle prize drawing courtesy of REI for bikers only.

Celeste and Lincoln, keeping out the riff-raff

Our plan was to get out of there by 8:30 so we could go on our own ride, but we were not able to escape until after 10:00 am!  By then it was getting pretty hot, and we had to drag ourselves out of the house to go for our Rist canyon ride.  About oh, two blocks into our ride we decided to scrap the Rist idea, and we rode out only to Bellvue and back, via Bingham Hill on the way out, and “the barrens” on the way back.  My local running peeps will know what I’m talking about.  It turned into a leisurely 14 mile ride in the heat instead of the 40+ mile epic suffer-fest we’d promised ourselves.  Well hey, it was hot, what do you want from us!  More suffering and blood, I know.  Just wait, you’ll get what you came for.

A leisurely ride to Bellvue and back.

We spent the bulk of the afternoon staying out of the heat and watching the neighborhood fill up with people and cars in anticipation of the fireworks display at city park.  We found it amusing that many of our neighbors were putting out chairs and sawhorses and large buckets in front of their houses in order to prevent strangers from parking there.  It reminded us both of the North End in Boston, where there are unofficial reserved parking spaces for local men of dubious repute.  Since we are new to this neighborhood we didn’t realize how crowded things were going to get, but we didn’t really care because we were planning on vacating the area for the evening.

For you see Ziggy, our newest dog and the namesake of our Courage Classic team, is terrified of loud noises, and we figured it would be smart for all of us if we were nowhere near city park for the thunderous fireworks display that evening.  So about 5:00 pm we bundled Ziggy and Duke into the pickup, and headed up the Poudre canyon with Cat and Sarah for a nice evening hike up Hewlett’s Gulch trail.

The trailhead was almost completely deserted by the time we got up there, which was great.  We were able to let both dogs off leash (it is allowed there) and let them roam up and down the trail without fear of confrontations with any other dogs.  The mosquitoes were rather voracious at that time of the evening, and none of us brought bug spray, but other than that it was a wonderful cool quiet hike up the gulch through cool green forests and meadows, and featuring numerous stream crossings. 

At one point some dark clouds rolled over and threatened to rain, and Ziggy got frightened and actually started to turn back to the trailhead.  I called for him to return but he was having none of that, so I had to chase him down the trail for a good half of a mile until I could convince him to let me leash him back up and return to the others.  After the clouds rolled past Ziggy seemed in good spirits once again so I let him off leash once more.  In retrospect that was a big error.

Hewlett’s Gulch trail opens up into a lovely meadow near it’s far point, and we were in the clearing and almost to the high point when we noticed that both Duke and Ziggy were rooting around quite enthusiastically at the base of a bush some 10 feet of the trail and 20 or so feet ahead of us.  I started calling the dogs back to us, and Duke came cruising back, licking his mouth like he just ate peanut butter.  But I don’t think there was a jar of Skippy under that bush, and anyway I then caught the unmistakable scent of skunk.  Crap.

Ziggy came running out of the bush, chasing a small and very irritated skunk.  At this point the skunk fluffed up its bushy tail, turned away from Ziggy, and we all got to witness a skunk spray.  Ziggy took a shot point-blank to his face.  Which deterred him not in the least.  Duke clearly had more common sense, having come back to us at the first attack.  Ziggy was either too stubborn or too stupid to stop harassing the skunk, for he continued to chase this poor animal across the trail onto the other side of the meadow, proceeding to get sprayed about 3 or 4 more times while we all screamed his name but kept our distance from the fray. 

Finally Ziggy decided he’d had enough, and disengaged from the fracas and headed towards us, his normally white head literally stained yellow by the skunk’s spray.  And the skunk was so enraged that it was actually chasing Ziggy towards us!  Luckily the skunk decided that it didn’t want to spray everyone in the vicinity.  Maybe it was bluffing; do skunks have an unlimited supply of spray?  We were not going to find out.  It was time to high-tail it back down the trail to the truck. 

The poor dogs spent a fair amount of time rolling in the dirt, trying desperately to rub that foul stinging odor off of their faces.  We tried splashing water on them at the stream crossings, but it was difficult for us to stop because as soon as we did, hoards of mosquitoes descended upon us and proceeded to turn our skin into a reasonable facsimile of bubble wrap.  We were concerned that they may have gotten sprayed in the eyes but they seemed ok from that perspective.  All we could really do was get them back to home so we could subject them to a tomato juice bath (yes, that actually works pretty well).

The crew, post-skunk-attack

There was no way we were going to let them sit in the cab of the truck so Celeste and I rode in the bed of the truck with the two dogs while Cat drove our truck back down the canyon.  I’m reasonably certain it was illegal and I know it was dangerous, but luckily for us the traffic was quite sparse, because everyone was heading to city park for the fireworks, a fact we discovered when we arrived back at our house, just in time for the fireworks display.  You know, the thing we were trying to avoid in the first place!

So Celeste took the dogs inside while I drove around my neighborhood looking for a parking spot, and considered that some well-placed chairs in front of my house may not have been such a stupid idea after all.  So the dogs got subjected to a triple-horror of skunk, bath, and loud noises.  They really haven’t been the same since!  In fact Ziggy didn’t even want to leave the house this morning, four days after the fact.  It’s a dangerous world out there, isn’t it.  And even after the tomato juice bath, which stained their white fur the color of Thai iced tea, I can still detect a hint of skunk in the air.  It will just take time to fully dissipate.  But the dogs will be fine, and hopefully they will think twice before taking on another skunk.  And I will most certainly think three times before letting them off leash in the forest again, particularly at that time of the evening.  What a mess.

But this blog is supposed to be about training for the courage classic, is it not?  Well you know, a skunk attack is far more entertaining then more accounts of me riding my bicycle.  But I will fill you in on my progress nonetheless.  It’s Friday today, and the 4th was Monday, which featured 14 miles of riding between the 5K race volunteering and the skunk incident.  On Tuesday I managed my normal 10 miles of commuting, and the same on Wednesday.  I was able to ride more miles on Thursday (yesterday), to the sum of 20 or so miles, 5 of which were done in a torrential rainstorm.  What is it with getting soaked on Thursdays?  So quite frankly I’m not putting in the biking miles I’d like, but I’m probably doing enough to get by.  I’m thankful that I got to ride Vail pass last weekend, that gives me some measure of confidence as I approach two weeks until the start of my ride.

Once again, thank you for your continued support, and here are the links you can click to donate to our ride:

Je t'aime, Ziggy, Je t'aime

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