I’ve been meaning to write about the wildest experience I’ve had on my ride to date. It was on the eve of the deer hunting opener here in Minnesota. I’d stayed late at work so it was really, really dark when I hit the road for home. I was on my usual route, heading south on Bryant Avenue, when I decided to turn toward the Rose Garden so I could take the Lake Harriet bike path for my final stretch home. It adds just a few minutes to the ride but the path feels safer in the dark. If you don’t know the area, there’s a heavily wooded corner that separates the street from Lakewood Cemetery. Deer like those woods, I’ve come to discover. I wasn’t quite to the lake yet and as I rode along the street I heard a rhythmic rustling in the leaves on the boulevard. “Wind doesn’t move like that,” I thought to myself. And as I looked to my right I nearly wet my pants. A deer was galloping beside me. Right next to me. Remember, I’m riding a bike in the dark. It felt as if he’d slowed down to pace himself with me. I was freaking out thinking, “OK deery, deery. Please don’t fall in love with my bike headlight and take a sharp left in front of me!” Suddenly he became bored with me and in a flash he kicked it into high gear and darted straight ahead and back into the woods. Man, those animals are fast. I turned the corner toward the lake, my heart still beating fast when out of nowhere a massive raccoon strolls in front of my path. He was about five feet in front of me and in no hurry. Those things freak me out. They have such an attitude. It’s as if they don’t realize we all hate them. I dodged the obese critter and hopped onto the bike path mumbling to myself about how I felt like Snow White except only in the bad way and in my story she swears a lot. It dawned on me that biking is like childbirth… at least when it comes to the unexpected. Random run-ins with deer and raccoons were not mentioned in any of the advice offerings I’d received from fellow bike commuters. Those bike experts are just like the moms who tried to prepare me for the birth of my first son but left out some really critical facts. Fact #1: You will want to die and feel total joy several times in the same day. Over and over. Day after day. Fact #2: Your stomach will float in the bathtub as if detached from your body. Fact #3: your baby isn’t the only one who may have to wear diapers. See? Those things I learned the hard way. And now I know about wild animal run-ins on the road. But what the heck else is around the corner?
Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.