With each shoot an archer puts it on the line. Many things we do of significance can put us on the line. How we handle those gambles, whether a business venture, sporting event, or social opportunity help define us as an individual. (I won’t get anymore philosophical) Of all the activities, beyond science and medicine I’ve enjoyed, cycling has been a major pursuit and sometimes it requires a bit of stepping out of my comfort zone.
Today, the weather was warm, 78 degrees, and sunny, so I headed out for a bicycle ride. I know some of my friends shoot and ride. Others shoot and run. Some do one or the other and neither. In any case, today’s ride was worth a short commentary because it became one of those defining moments.
Cycling out of Lincoln County into Wilkes County Georgia the roads cover rolling hills and have minimal traffic. Although these roads are almost void of traffic, they are heavy with dogs. Dogs here are free range and will give chase. Most get winded after a few hundred yards of sprinting to catch me. One such fellow managed to misjudge his angle and distance and got too close. Realizing his mistake he tried to hit the brakes, but his footing failed him and he slid into my rear wheel. Neither of us crashed but my rear wheel’s spokes on his ear gave him a bite he’ll have difficulty explaining to his buddies.
The dog and bike confluence was the most heart-pumping interval of my ride. Of the more sedate exchanges was a short meeting with two Wilkes County residents sitting on the porch of their modest home. When I rode past them the first time, we exchanged a wave. They waved as I was making the return trip. Pedaling away for the second time, I decided to turn around and speak to these apparently friendly country folk.
Riding up to the house I hoped two things: 1) they would not put their dogs on me, and 2) I would not get shot. Meeting people while wearing Lycia is a bit uncomfortable in most settings, particularly in extreme rural environments.
A short hello and introduction displaced all anxieties. I think they were more suspicious of me than I of them. Sitting outside they explained they were, “enjoying the nice weather.” They talked about their dogs, their daughter, and cautioned me to be careful while riding. Nice enough people, easy to talk to and quick to make a new friend.
In rural Georgia the range of homes and property is enormous. Stopping again I briefly spoke with the owner of a magnificent estate and acreage where cows and horses grazed over massive fields. His hearty hello and down home conversation was just as congenial as my previous interactions. When I went to leave, his five dogs wanted to give me a close up chase but were barred by a fence.
It is a bit of a risk, a bit of putting it on the line, speaking to strangers out here in the country. But, the risk is low for personal harm, and as a rule, people are welcoming. Meetings with strangers, even brief, are often enriching and opening yourself up to the opportunity can enhance an already enjoyable activity.