14. Bad Dog!

We encounter dogs every day, but none of them have posed a serious threat.

Shelly and I each have pepper spray ready to use, easily accessible from an outside pouch on our handlebar bags. Neither of us have needed to use our pepper spray.

The only two dogs that I think really wanted a piece of us were restrained, one a pit bull chained to a tree on a backroad in Tennessee, the other a German Shepherd tethered to its owner by a leash in Jamestown, TN. 

Most of the dogs we encounter are confined in kennels, fenced in their yards, on a leash on their property, or well-trained not to leave their property.  Almost all of them bark at us, just doing their jobs of protecting their turf and their owners.

Only a few dogs have given chase.

One very small, but also very aggressive, dog almost got himself killed when he ran out onto a busy road to chase us.  Fortunately, the oncoming motorist saw the dog in time to slow down and allow the dog to retreat to the safety of his yard.

Another dog chased me for a considerable distance.  I finally slowed down to let him get close to my ankle, and then I gave him a snout-full of water from my water bottle. That stopped him in his tracks, and kept him from chasing Shelly, who was some distance behind me. 

Yesterday, we were riding in a secluded, heavily wooded area between Fordsville KY and Utica KY.  There were very few homes in the area. Shelly and I got a bit separated.  I began my steep descent from a hilltop as Shelly was still climbing.  As I was racing to the bottom, I noticed a house coming up on my right.  As I zoomed by the house, three big dogs gave chase.  I was going  too fast for them to catch me. Two of them quickly gave up and stood in the road, barking. The third continued chasing me and barking, eventually slowing to a walk.  I stopped and began walking back towards the third dog, worried about Shelly.  I could hear a man screaming for his dogs to return to their yard.  At the same time, I could hear,  through my Bluetooth connection to Shelly’s helmet,  the sound of rushing air, meaning that Shelly was heading downhill, three big dogs in the road waiting for her.  As Shelly was descending, the man stopped screaming at his dogs, who were paying no attention to him.  Silence, except for  sporadic barks from the dogs gathered in the middle of the road.  A few seconds later, a gun shot rang loud.  Then a second.  The three dogs responded immediately, trotting sheepishly back to their yard.  Shelly zoomed by, the dogs watching passively, wondering what could have been, but for their owner’s gunshot-command to return to their yard. 

The last three days have been difficult riding.  The rolling hills continued to test our legs and our mental toughness,  and the heat (high 80’s) sapped us of our energy, even though we began our rides early in the morning to beat the heat.  Sunday it was 81 degrees at 7:30 a.m. as we left Leitchfield, KY.

Since our last post, we’ve  ridden from Cave City, KY, to Leitchfield (46 miles), and then on to Fordsville, KY (41 miles). Yesterday we hoped to ride 51 miles to Sebree, KY, but 24 miles into the ride, we were gassed.  We had 27 more hilly miles in 89 degree heat.  We wanted no part of that action, so we detoured off the TransAmerica and headed up the road to Owensboro, KY,  to find  an air-conditioned motel room.  

We encountered our first bicycle tourists of the trip just west of Utica yesterday, a group of three from Dallas, TX, heading east.  They had started in Missouri. Two of them are riding to Cave City, KY, and the third will continue from there alone to the eastern terminus of the TransAmerica at Yorktown, VA.  It was fun exchanging stories of our rides.

Here in Owensboro today on a day off, we unloaded the bikes and rode them ten miles roundtrip to explore downtown.  Owensboro is located on the banks of the Ohio River. Across the river is Indiana.  Owensboro has a beautiful waterfront park that runs the entire length of downtown, filled with a fabulous playground, a pedestrian walkway, benches and picnic tables, motels, restaurants, a convention center, and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. 

In closing this post, we want to thank those of you who have posted comments here, as well as those of you who have texted, emailed or called us.  It means a lot to us.  We’d be lying if we told you that thoughts of quitting do not cross our minds when the riding is difficult or when we’ve eaten yet more bad food at gas stations, convenience stores, and Dollar General, often our only options for food and drink when we’re riding in rural areas. Your encouragement has helped keep us going. 

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Ralene

    Loved the dog story. Sounds like a true Kentucky country story with the gun shots. It is probably humid as well as hot. Hang in there!

  2. Brian Stine

    I caught up today on your last few posts and am amazed at how far you’ve traveled. I can picture it clearly through your posts and photos. Having grown up in southern Illinois, I can relate to the heat and humidity. It just doesn’t cool down at night like it does in Oregon. Thank you again for sharing your journey.

  3. Jens

    Thanks for your encouragement, Brian. I feel like we’re just crawling along. But you are right, we’ve made a pretty good haul already.

  4. Kim

    Your dog story reminded me of the dogs on Pohnpei— brainless and vicious. I’m glad they responded to the shot! You were lucky the owner was conscientious enough to shoot. On Pohnpei when the dogs wouldn’t be controlled by their owner, an, “eh!” with a shrug of the shoulder meant you were left to your own devices. We always walked with a pocket of rocks or a stick!

    Take it easy in the humidity, but you’ll make it! We are enjoying sharing your exploits with Mom and Dad around the dinner table. Love to you both from all of us.

  5. Larry & Margie

    Well, you have encountered about every challenge now…and pedaled on. Remarkable!! Plus you have encountered so many pleasurable sights, sounds, people, and experiences. We are all sitting on our comfy couches amazed…enjoying (or suffering) with you. Prayers continue as you roll on…

  6. Bob P.

    Glad you’re safe. Enjoyed hearing about The Firsts. We are in your neck of the woods at Crater Lake. Enjoy following your big adventure.

  7. Ken P

    What an awesome adventure! The stories & pictures really do show the ups & downs, in the terrain and in the pictures of the two you. And I know you two well enough to know that the stories told here barely scratch the surface. I can’t wait to hear more in Montana! In the meantime, thanks for sharing.

  8. Bruce

    You two are amazing! Thanks for the updates. Fun to read about some of the aspects of your journey. The humidity sounds awful, to be honest. Dogs and humidity aside, who gets to do this kind of thing?! Enjoy…a day at a time.


  9. Lasse

    The Norwegian cheerleading section has been quiet, but that does not mean we have failed to follow your adventure. The traffic, dogs and heat sounds like a hassle, but when you think about it would you really want to be in an office or courtroom? I doubt it. You are now on the Transamerica and I would be willing to bet a bitcoin (if I had one…) that you will make it. Keep writing those posts. They are interesting and enjoyable. Following them is almost like being hooked on a new TV series. This evening I will take a bike ride around Oslo and imagine that I am on the Transamerica. Hang in there and keep the faith. Most important – stay safe!

  10. Jens

    Mange takk, min venn Lasse.

  11. Kari

    I’m in total “awe” of your travels, although you wouldn’t catch me doing it😂
    Thank you for taking us along on your adventure.

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