I know. This could be a really long article. But I’ll make it short and leave off explanations where they aren’t necessary…and in most cases they aren’t.
Navy SEALs. They scare me.
See? That wasn’t so bad.
Sharks. (Who isn’t afraid of sharks?)
Snakes, bridges (the tall ones), mountain lions, grizzly bears, trans-Pacific flights (how much gas does this thing hold?), “The EXORCIST”, wasps/hornets/spiders, and farm dogs.
I just added the last one today. I was biking the back roads of Kansas with my brother, and at the ten mile point he mentioned – as an aside – that, “there are some mean dogs up ahead.” Why he didn’t bother to tell me BEFORE my leg muscles were exhausted – let alone before we got underway – I can’t answer.
But before I could say, “Wha-?” he yelled, “SPEED UP!”
That’s when I saw the dogs.
At just about the same time they saw us.
Normally, when you ride by a house with a dog, you surprise it and by the time it scrambles to its feet you are past and opening. But these are farm dogs and there isn’t much to do on a farm except watch the road for mountain bikers. They were up ahead and began running toward us. Not CHASING us…they were waiting for us.
And they were big. They looked like this:
The biggest of the two ran at me, and (after screaming like a school girl) I shouted every dog command I knew.
“SIT! BAD DOG! ROLL OVER! BITE MY BROTHER – NOT ME!”
Nothing worked, including my thigh muscles. The big dog could not only keep up with me, for sport he ran AHEAD of me, then came at me from the front.
At no point in this episode, by the way, did I concern myself with my brother’s well being. For all I knew he was Cujo food, but this was survival in its most primal form. I am sure that somewhere deep inside, in the dark corners of my mind, I believed he deserved anything he got for getting us into this mess.
Eventually the adrenaline must have kicked in (or, more likely, the beast lost interest) and I outraced the killer farm dog.
I was safe.
Humiliated, exhausted, and feeling guilty for abandoning my wing man? Sure. But I had survived to bike another day, and that was something.
I realize now that the list of things that scare me – far from being a finite, never-changing compilation – is a living, breathing document. The future promises new unknowns, new threats that will present clear and present dangers to my feeling of well-being. Therefore, the list will grow.
At his inaugural speech in 1933, President Roosevelt confidently told the nation that all we have to fear is fear itself. I can’t match his eloquence, and far be it from me to question his words. But I can pretty much guarantee one thing.
He never tried to ride a bike past a couple of farm dogs.