Sunday, August 10, 2008

Night of the Rogue Deer

I took a PATH ride from Panola to Arabia and back middle of the week with Heather and Florian. It was a last minute decision because I'd had a rough day and I really needed to blow of some steam. I accomplished my de-stress mission but the deer had it out for me....

First, I rounded a corner at about 17mph to find a deer, stopped, in the middle of the PATH less than 10 feet from me. I stopped (I didn't know I could stop so fast, actually) and stared. He stared back. I wasn't sure what to deer charge? will they bite? Suddenly I wished I'd listened all of those years when my dad relayed his deer hunting experiences. As I flipped through my mental Rolodex, searching for a memory of a vicious encounter between my dad and a deer, I was struck by how long the deer and I had been engaged in our staring contest. The dark glassiness of his eyes were started to spook me and just when I thought I'd scream "uncle" - he leaped off into the brush on the otherside of the road. Weird.

The journey continued on and I noticed several more deer along the way. There are two primary, no three primary reasons that I ride the PATH trail. First, I love the scenery and wildlife. Its beautiful and calming. Second, it has hills that are challenging. I love speed and distance but every now and again I just need some hills for the purpose of training. And the third - which is equally important - is that Heather will ride with me since there are no dangerous obstacles other than deer who enjoy a good staring contest... As we were getting closer to the end, I came down a hill, rounded a corner and as I typically do, checked behind me to see if I could still see Heather. What I saw almost made me fall off of my bike...running behind me at full speed was a fawn (those spots are so cute!). For a moment, I thought maybe I was finally being accepted as part of the PATH pact and the deer had allowed for me to "run" with them as part of the group. Group ride was starting to unravel in my mind with a whole new perspective until I suddenly saw the fawn swerve off to the side and disappear to where no road bike should ever venture. Damn. For the first time in my life I felt acceptance - like I was one of some group...

Apparently the fawn had been spoked by Flo who was not far behind and took off running to get away - when he saw me, he diverted to the brush on the side. So much for acceptance.

The evening ended - we had raced moonlight and won - it was late when we got back to our cars and the park ranger was waiting to lock the gates as we drove out. I turned my car onto Alexander Lake Rd and as I rounded the first curve, there stood a deer staring at me, watching as I drove away. In my rear view mirror, I almost swear I saw him pull up on his back legs, raise his right leg and shake a hoof as if waiving goodbye.


  1. You are hilarious...I'm so excited about riding tomorrow!! I want to try to go 20 miles if you think I can handle it...

  2. I wish you hadn't revealed the secret deer code word to the whole Internet. Now they will have to change it.