Former Olympian and cycling coach David Brinton rides bikes for a living—and as a professional stuntman, he used to get paid to crash them, too. Brinton shares some advice on how he handles his bike in common road hazards.
Pro rider, Neil Bezdek, gives a few tips for dealing with pushy pooches when you’re out riding.
Don’t panic. This is the No. 1 rule for safe cycling, and it applies here. Try not to swerve, even if you’re riding alone. The closest I’ve been to getting hit by a car, on many occasions, happened after darting sideways to avoid a dog. Fleeing sends a signal to the pooch that he’s predator and you’re prey. It also encourages the dog to give chase. As they say, dogs can smell fear.
Anticipate. Canines are harder to anticipate than cars, but not all pose the same danger. Most run parallel to their target before drifting toward it, but these pups are usually all bark and no bite. The real threat comes from the ones brave or stupid enough to jump right in front of you.
Like any other road hazard, it’s a good idea to look over your shoulder for passing cars when approaching an eager dog. And they like to roam in packs, so where you see one there are often others.
Identify the prey. In a group ride, dogs almost always go after the lead cyclist on the near side of the road. If that’s you, muster your courage and don’t slam on the brakes. If it’s not you, distance yourself from the victim and pull out your camera.
Be the aggressor. Dogs are among the few road hazards that can see you. Use this to your advantage. You can’t intimidate a pothole or shout at a patch of gravel, but the best way to fend off hounds is to take their aggression and shove it back at them.
Stand up and assume a dominant stance. As the dog nears, make an abrupt swerve toward the dog. Yes, toward the dog, but only enough to send a message, not run over the poor creature. And here’s my favourite part—bark as loud and mean as you can. This works for me every time. And it’s kinda fun.
A squirt to the face from a water bottle works, too. But for every dog it repels, it can provoke a protective owner.
Warn drivers. Cyclists already encounter enough road kill. Let’s do our best not to add dogs to their ranks. As motorists approach, I usually make a “slow down” sign (by holding out a palm and making a patting motion), then point to the dog.