Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chasing Wildlife

Here in Colorado, we have a lot of wildlife.  There are the things you'd expect - elk and deer and raccoons.  We also have bear, mountain lion, foxes, coyotes, ducks, geese, chipmunks, and three types of squirrels - red, black, or grey.  Grey squirrels here are pretty rare here, although back in the Midwest where I'm from, you see a lot of them.  We have enough black squirrels that I see them at least once a week.  But by far the most prolific is the red squirrel.  They are everywhere, and fat to boot.

So what does this have to do with biking?

The first long trip I took on my bike was a few weeks after I had it.  My mother and I loaded the bikes in her truck and headed to the St. Vrain Greenway, an 8-mile-long stretch of 8-foot-wide paved trail that winds from the eastern edge of town to the western edge of town.  It has been built in such a way as to allow you to cross all major streets using underpasses.  Much of the greenway, although bordering roads, subdivisions, and industrial parks, is lined with trees and brush and grass.  This means I am likely to encounter various wildlife as I go along on my rides.

We're riding along the path, and I'm pumping up a short hill, when a squirrel jumped out into the middle of the path just ahead of my front tire.  Like most animals and small children that do such a thing, he continued to move forward, directly in front of me.  I wasn't slowing down, and it only took him a split-second to realize he'd better haul tail or he was a goner.  He pulled his tail high into the air and leaped ahead of me for about five or six feet, before dodging off to the left and heading up a tree.  I was laughing so hard I had to stop pedaling.

Then two days ago, as I rounded one of the ponds on a gravel trail, a Canada goose was wiggling herself down into a pile of leaves alongside the road.  She had plenty of time to see me, I would have thought, coming down the path.  The difference between Canadas here in Colorado as opposed to the ones in Missouri I am used to is that the Colorado Canadas are about the most skittish things ever.  I don't have to worry they are going to chase or attach me.  In fact, they usually don't let anyone get without about 30 feet of them, before they are off and into the nearest body of water.  That is their "safe" place.  This girl finally saw me when I was about ten feet away, and started honking madly and thrashing around in the leaves trying to get away.  Her wings were flapping madly, her feet flapping at the ground, and she finally managed to move herself the ten or twelve feet she needed to go to get across the path before I got to her.

I guess a fat girl on a bike IS pretty scary.  I just didn't expect it to scare the wildlife!

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