You will not believe this post. I almost can’t believe this post. I have taken one for the whole cycle365 team. I have saved all of you except Scott and Rocky substantial pain and hospital visits. I have ‘thirded’ myself so you don’t have to, since everything happens in threes.
Yes, on an absolutely gorgeous day where I was attempting to climb 3 gaps and complete the longest distance ride I’ve been able to manage in a very long time…
I got attacked by a dog.
Yep, Scott is 1, Rocky is 2, and I am 3. When I read Scott’s post, I thought, “wow, I’m so glad we don’t have to worry about that stuff over here.” In 20 years of riding here, I may have been chased by a dog twice. And those were friendly guys just wanting to play and go for a run.
Now I know nasty dogs, and nice dogs, and everything in between. I know the different types of dog approaches and what they indicate because I grew up in Indiana, and you cannot go for a bike ride in the country there without at least one dog chase. I’ve been bitten on the ankle once as a teenager (but don’t remember the bite hurting too badly but the shots being terrible – maybe it was a rabies one? I don’t remember now). And on one of my bike tours crossing Iowa, a dog latched onto my shoe and got caught, and I had to shake the damn thing off and almost lost my shoe.
But that just doesn’t happen in Oz. Until today.
I was just about to start up a new road to a low gap. It was to be the first of 3 gaps today. I started into the gentle grade on gravel when this short, stocky, muscular dog comes out of nowhere and only snarls at the last moment. Stealth approaches with a snarl are never good. He runs in front of the bike and I make contact with him and almost crash. I’m going slow enough I can recover though. He comes around the other side of the bike from behind and sinks his teeth into the meat of my calf.
CURSE WORD. CURSE WORD, you CURSE WORD bastard bit me!
As I’m saying that, I am pulling out of the toe clips and dismounting to the opposite side of the bike faster than you’ve ever seen a middle-aged chick do so on a slippery gravel road.
The owner is calling the dog off, but the dog is still trying to get around the bike to get to me. His teeth are bared and he is growling, barking and jumping at the bike. I keep yelling “HEY!” at it. But whatever that dog is – a Staffy crossed with something – it is staying incredibly aggressive.
Finally, the owner manages to call the dog off. He tells me to wait while he ties the dog up. He had been sitting on the front porch about 250 metres uphill with his 10-12-year-old son.
The guy comes down to talk to me. He is really sorry. He asks if there is anything he can do. He offers a band-aid (at this point, there is more blood than a band-aid is going to handle). He offers his details, but I don’t take them. I just confirm the dog is up-to-date on all of his shots.
Then I keep riding. Damn. I just got bitten by a dog in Australia. That’s almost like being shot. It just doesn’t happen much at all over here.
So I ride into Myrtleford which is another 12 or so kms. The bleeding seems to have stopped mostly, except pushing harder going uphill. I am worried about the bacteria in the bite, though, so I think the wounds should be cleaned.
You can’t just show up at the hospital these days, so I ring to tell them I’ve got puncture wounds from a dog bite, and ask if I should come up to get them cleaned. They say yes, come up immediately, and they will meet me at the emergency entrance. There are no COVID cases in this shire at all, but who knows when it will get here.
They are waiting on me and come out as soon as I roll up. The nurse says my bike will be fine there by the bench and asks me all the COVID questions while she takes my temperature standing outside. She then gives me a mask to wear and takes me inside to the emergency department. I am the only one in there. It is super quiet and the clock on the wall doesn’t work. (My dad, who worked at a hospital for 38 years, always said we couldn’t get hurt on a public holiday, because he WAS NOT, under any circumstances, going to spend a billion hours in the ER since it was always nuts on public holidays).
The nurse pulls, pokes and prods with the tweezers and tells me the puncture wounds are really deep for a dog bite. She asks, “What kind of dog was it? It had to have a strong jaw to do that, and for that spacing, that was a big mouth!” One of the punctures is 2 cm deep and the other is 1cm. She irrigates them and then tells me she is going to get the doctor to see about stitches.
While I am waiting on this to happen, I read the posters on the walls around me. There is an entire poster related to “Christmas Eye”. Fuck me dead. There is something else that sounds horrible that you can get from an insect that is very common around here. It’s got to be common if they have a whole poster about it. Oh man, with my luck with insects….
Later, Google turns up a couple things about it – scary stuff from when beetles fly in your eye! And it only seems to be a big problem right where I live and ride. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_eye and from my optometrist https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2019/12/12/christmas-eye/
The doctor says no stitches. Stitches can trap the bacteria inside. So they steri-strip me up, put on a big waterproof bandage (that keeps coming unstuck all the way home – it is not sweatproof) and give me a tetanus shot. They give me a script for an antibiotic and tell me to get it if my leg starts to swell at all or turn red with or without swelling. I can ride home if I want.
And so I do… all 40 kms and over Taylors Gap. I miss my third gap though because my leg is starting to hurt, and I think my poor immune system is going to have enough to deal with given the dog bite, the tetanus shot and its normal “always fighting Bartonella” issues. It probably doesn’t need extra exercise stress. So I just do the 40kms home instead. Still, it is an absolutely perfect and gorgeous autumn day, and I try to revel in that as much as possible.
I am so thankful for our health care system. I got prompt treatment and there was never a question of “Do you have insurance”? I won’t have to worry about how much the trip will cost me in gap fees. I will not get a bill for treatment or any of the shots. The antibiotic script will probably cost about $15. Thank you, thank you for a healthcare system that works (mostly).
And thank you VIC, as the cops tell me to keep track of any medical costs, and I’ll be able to claim that back under the Victims of Crime funds.
The bottom of the bandage is full of blood by the time I get home and the steri-strips aren’t doing much. I take a shower, tape a paper towel to my leg to catch the drips and wait for the police to come to take my statement. (The hospital staff urged me to make a police report).
My leg really, really hurts now with that 2 centimetre puncture right in the meat of my calf muscle. It starts to swell and I cannot stand without hobbling around as I can’t bring my foot up to a 90 degree angle to my leg without heaps of pain in the muscle. The bruising is starting, too.
The cops are nice. They take my statement. The one guy says, “Oh, that’s a good one. That one is going to be really ugly tomorrow. Get some ice on it and let it ooze”.
The one guy talks bikes with me and looks over the touring bike and asks how far I’ve ridden it. I tell him at least 40,000 kms and he is impressed. I show him the wall map with all my rides marked off and he thinks that is just the coolest thing. He says, “wow, some of that is really remote. Do you carry a PLB?” I tell him it is on my list once I can go bush again, as I’m rebuilding fitness now after being unwell for quite a while.
And so, because everything happens in threes: this ride should qualify as:
1) a holiday challenge ride, even if no one plans on spending time in the ER on Easter Sunday.
2) It should also qualify as my 5th Cycle Life Challenge purchase – as here is a pic of the chocolate (inspired by Janos) we took with us, purchased from the Germany-owned ALDI.
3) And here is the monthly music challenge. The first dog song to come to mind is The Stooges song. Of course I love The Stooges, and there are heaps of good covers of this song (there is a great 1989 Mudhoney/Sonic Youth one on youtube). My favourite one, though, has always been by Uncle Tupelo.
And finally, if you haven’t caught Neil Young’s re-release of Shut It Down. Check it out at the bottom. He released it last year as a call to arms about Climate Change, but just released a 2020 COVID-19 version.
Pictures and descriptions of today will come tomorrow when I write up the ride on my website – other than the dog bite, it was a fantastic ride and I managed to do 80 kms, so I’m happy with my body’s performance. There was meant to be another big ride tomorrow, but I doubt my calf muscle is going to agree. I might actually get some coursework done though, so all is not lost.
Now, continue on your merry way knowing you will not be the third dog bite in the “things always comes in threes” superstition.