Cycling update — with horses!

We had a beautiful weekend here in Connecticut, sunny with temperatures in the 60s and low 70s, and I was fortunate to be able to ride Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sadly, my riding is not up to the level it was last year, and it’s not likely ever to reach that level this year, given the various interruptions I’m facing. (Although some of the interruptions are good ones — only 1 1/2 weeks until Ireland!) But still, I’m enjoying myself. I ride some on my own but often with friends, and I’ve found that riding a bike is a great context in which to have a conversation. It gives me at least an hour to talk, although often much longer, and it’s a low pressure situation: it’s not awkward if you’re not talking the entire time, because you’re busy doing something else: riding. You are free to be quiet and ride if you want. Or you can talk the entire time, and the interruptions — getting out of the way of traffic, letting a loud truck go by — don’t matter much. In fact, they offer time to think about the conversation and plan what to say next. The interruptions also make it easy to bring up a new topic without awkwardness. Conversations are also much more fun when you are pumped full of adrenaline. Everyone is wittier and laughter comes much more quickly when you’ve been working hard and are feeling both pleasantly tired and full of energy.

Yesterday’s group ride was an odd one, though. It was 60 very hilly miles, and I rode with four other people, including Hobgoblin. About halfway through, I was riding with a friend about a quarter mile ahead of the others, and we passed three horses and two riders coming from the other direction. I didn’t think much of it — we were in horse farm country. A couple minutes later, though, I heard a clopping noise behind me. My first thought was that someone’s bike was making some very strange noises, but then I realized that it was a horse. My second thought was that it was strange for a rider to be galloping down the left side of the road, into oncoming traffic and uncomfortably close to me. Then the horse passed me, at top speed, and I realized it had no rider. And then another horse galloped past me, also at top speed, also with no rider. My friend started to panic, and we pulled over to the side of the road as she told me horror stories about friends getting kicked by horses. We looked back, and fortunately there were no more horses galloping at us. We waited for the other riders to catch up, but they didn’t appear. Finally a woman on a horse — thankfully fully under her control — came along and told us there had been a bad accident. She rode on without giving us any more information than that.

This time I panicked along with my friend. I have heard way too often about bad accidents and cyclists, and, unfortunately, Hobgoblin tends to be accident prone. If anyone is going to have a run-in with a horse while riding a bike, it quite possibly could be him. I was having visions of horse/cyclist run-ins, ambulances, concussions, broken bones, everything you can imagine. We headed back down the road trying to keep calm, and you can understand my relief when I saw the entire group all upright, everyone’s bike in working order. It turns out the horses had gotten spooked by the cyclists behind me. One of them had thrown its rider, and it and one of the other horses took off down the road. Everyone watched as they galloped toward my friend and I, yelling at us to get out of the way, but we couldn’t hear anything. Fortunately, the horses weren’t interested in knocking us down. Unfortunately, the woman thrown from her horse was hit hard enough to crack her helmet, although she didn’t want help and seemed to be okay.

We felt concerned for the woman who had taken the fall, but the situation felt so bizarre we rode the rest of the way home laughing. I kept saying I know this is horse country, but I never expected to be chased by them! It’s really kind of funny the way strange things happen to you when you spend hours out on your bike. There’s no way of knowing what any ride will bring. I have learned, though, to steer well clear of horses out on the road, no matter how calm they seem.

11 Comments

Filed under Cycling

11 responses to “Cycling update — with horses!

  1. Will DEFINITELY steer clear of horses – thanks for the warning! I was out for a long ride today (Fort Lee up past Haverstraw, not quite to Bear Mountain) – TRULY beautiful riding weather, after a long spring in which it has been very difficult to get out there at all.

    Have a fantastic time in Ireland!

  2. Wow, that’s sort of scary! I’m glad that Hobgoblin didn’t have a run in with the horses! It’s sort of weird to think of horse riders wearing helmets but of course it makes sense–glad the lady was okay. How exciting–the next week or so is going to fly by! Are you already packing?

  3. I was thinking about you only yesterday as I was watching some of our local cyclists and wondering how they managed with the hills round here. (I live in an area known as the Clent Hill range and which ever way you look it’s down hill first followed by serious uphill stretches.) However, we also have a number of local riding stables and I’d not given a thought to how they might effect cyclists. I think I’ll stay on shank’s pony. I’m glad no one seems to have been seriously hurt. Isn’t it interesting though that to you, a cyclist a ‘bad accident’ means a cyclist down, while to the rider a ‘bad accident’ means a jockey down. We all see the world just that little bit differently.

    Love;y weather here, by the way. I hope we keep it going for your visit.

  4. My goodness me! What a disconcerting incident! But I’m so glad that no one was badly hurt and particularly glad that Hobgoblin escaped without injury this time. Perhaps you should keep him on house arrest until the day of departure for Ireland? :)

  5. Oh no, that sounds terrifying! The whole “there was a bad accident” thing with no more information – eek.

    I know what you mean about conversations. Bike riding’s not particularly like that for me, but hiking is.

  6. Oh my, I’m glad nobody was seriously hurt and the rider was wearing a helmet.

  7. I would have been freaking out! Hopefully the rider who was thrown is ok now and glad no one else was hurt. In Austin we are getting more and more used to seeing cyclists everywhere, which is great, but still it can be so dangerous and I keep reminding my husband (who rides to work) to be careful.

    I bet you can’t wait until your trip!

  8. Niall Charleton

    One of the best ways to see Dublin is to use dublinbikes.ie. By using a cred card these bikes can be used for minimal charge for three days. There are some cycling tours organised around Ireland during the summer and some fine cycle lanes have been created on the tracks of old railway lines. Make sure to look out for these while in Ireland.

  9. It’s a jungle out there! (sorry, couldn’t resist). I’ve been afraid of wild turkeys, or squirrels getting under my wheel, but haven’t thought about horses. I did know one cyclist on a charity ride who had a run in with a deer; let’s just say be became a one-armed crew member for the remainder of the ride (the other was in a sling). Maybe we need some kind of loud horn or noise to warn the animals away as we ride up the road?

    Then there was that snake I saw with you on the sunflower ride. Still not sure what to do when I come across those.

  10. Well that was an eventful ride! I am glad no one – horses or riders – was hurt badly and you ended up with a good story.

  11. Jenny — I’m not sure how many horses you will run into, but who knows! I’ve enjoyed following news about your rides on your blog, and I’m glad you are starting to get some good ones.

    Danielle — yes, helmets while horseback riding make a lot of sense. I’m so obsessive about having them for riding that I think I’d feel nervous on a horse without one. Not packing yet, but I have a lot of it planned in my head. I don’t like packing until the last minute, because inevitably I change things, add things, and it gets too complicated.

    Annie — I know — when I heard about the accident, it didn’t even occur to me that it was the horseback rider, and it probably didn’t occur to the horse woman that I would think it was a cyclist! I live in a very hilly area too — it’s all up and down all day long. It’s a pain, but it does make us stronger!

    Litlove — it looks like we will do one last ride tomorrow, and I’m going to make sure we are very, very careful! :)

    Emily — yes, I can see that hiking is the same way, and there’s also a lot to say about what you’re hiking through, which is fun. Very different than, say, sitting in a coffee shop, although that’s fun too.

    Lilian — thank you. We were lucky (and are lucky with every ride we do that doesn’t end in injury ….)

    Iliana — there are tons of riders around here, which is a good thing, I think, as people get used to it. There are still too many accidents, though. I hope your husband stays safe!

    Niall — thanks for the information! That’s very useful.

    Debby — yes, lots of potential dangers it’s probably best not to think about too much! I’m very worried about squirrels and deer. When I’m riding with Hobgoblin or Megan, one of them will yell loudly at animals, and that always makes me jump, but it’s pretty effective :)

    Stefanie — thanks, yes — I’d kind of prefer that nothing happen and things stay boring, but good stories are nice to have!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s