Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Local fauna

A friend back in Pennsylvania said there are three kinds of cross-country skiers: racers, tourists, and bird watchers. He was looking at me pointedly as he said this, because I’d just finished my first-and-only cross-country ski race, coming in well behind the pack because I’d gone over the side of a hill and literally had to hug a tree to prevent a long, painful fall. If it was remotely possible to crash and burn NASCAR-style in a ski race, I could have managed it.

I’m marginally faster on the bike, but there’s still time to see a lot of wildlife when I’m riding back and forth to work. I’ve seen foxes, skunks, deer, coyotes, armadillos, hawks, owls, opossums, and raccoons. I’ve been stalked by the deadly chupacabra, and narrowly missed the elusive and venomous Oklahoma snow snake.

Last fall, a buck came wandering off the side of the road, his neck swollen by the rut. His head was down, following the scent of a hot, female deer, no doubt. As I got closer, I could hear him singing the deer version of “I’m In The Mood For Love!” I gave him a lot of room. Dealing with testosterone crazed deer is like engaging a belligerent drunk in a bar fight.

Another animal that requires a lot of space is the common skunk. Skunks ALWAYS have the right-of-way! If you challenge that idea, keep your speed up. Skunks haven’t learned to lead their targets – yet.

One morning, I was stalked by the deadly chupacabra in the pre-dawn darkness. I never saw it, of course, because no one ever sees a chupacabra, but I knew it was there in the bushes. It crashed along parallel to the road, toppling small trees and parting the brush like a knife. My adrenaline level increased my speed until I was sprinting flat out.

Another fearsome animal is the venomous Oklahoma snow snake. They lurk just under the snow surface, waiting for an unwary victim. The only protection is to remain inside when it snows, stay warm, and drink a lot of bourbon. Snow snakes HATE bourbon! I’ve explained this to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, but she just glares and hands me the snow shovel. The woman is heartless.

I’ve inhaled bugs of unknown species and origins. You may not want to know this, but some of them are kind of tasty. Don’t ask which ones. I’m not about to do a taste test to find out.

My garage is infested with Vittoria beetles, locally known as tire ticks. They attach themselves to my tires and slowly suck the air out of them. Why they do this and what they do with the air is unknown. But if I leave a bike out there for a couple of weeks, the tires will be almost flat due to the ticks. If you experience a similar problem, the only solution is to remove the tires and send them out for proper disposal. Just send them to me and I’ll take care of the task for you, especially if you have high-quality, premium tires. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of experience at this.

I almost forgot one of the most dangerous and easily overlooked critters – the Campagnolo centipede. They infest not only high-end Italian bicycle parts, but also parts from other manufacturers like Shimano, Huret, Zeus, or Ofmega. The centipede is nearly microscopic and difficult to detect, so if you suspect an infestation, send the parts to me as well. I’ve had considerable success at eradication.

Tire ticks and Campagnolo centipedes are often found in close proximity to each other, so if you have one type it’s likely you have the other as well. Just send all the parts here, and I’ll check them for you. Better safe than sorry!


Blogger Fritz said...

Nice! Around here in Colorado we have elk in rut. They're kinda like deer, but bigger and meaner.

10:49 PM  

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