Only in Illinois… part II

Some time ago, I wrote about all the miles I’d put on my bike in the past year, and some of the interesting things that had happened in the process. One of those things was chasing a herd of cows down a farm road… Only in Illinois.

Well, today came part II. I was about 12 miles into my ride, headed north on a narrow road that probably doesn’t even exist on most maps. I was moving along at a decent clip – around 23mph, when I suddenly heard a loud rustling on the side of the road just ahead. A calf (or at least a small cow) sprang from the brush and ran for her life just ahead of me!

On both sides of the road were fences, so the cow had nowhere to go. She wasn’t going to let me catch up with her, so passing her and leaving her behind was out of the question. I didn’t want to run the cow several miles up the road to the end of the fence, as that would just leave some farmer with a lost cow.

I hit the brakes and slowed down so the cow could just walk and still “run” away from me, while I contemplated what to do. I could turn around and go back the other way, picking a different route than I’d originally planned. I could go to the nearest house and see if they knew whose cow it might be. I could call the police on my cell phone.

My new pacesetter and I came around a slight bend in the road, and saw the farmer and his son, just getting out of a pickup truck by an open gate. Aha! That’s how she escaped. The cow suddenly realized she was trapped between two bad things – the farmer that would make her go back into the pasture, and me, who had two wheels and a bright yellow shirt. She hesitated, considering going back the other way.

I sped up.

She turned and ran.

We repeated this 3 or 4 times, me using a bicycle to actually herd a cow towards its pen. When it got close to the gate, the farmer’s son (who looked to be about 10) whistled and clapped, and the cow turned and went straight into the gate.

I’ve never ridden a horse in my life, and I don’t know how well I would like chaps, boots and a ten gallon hat; but today, on my trusty Trek and in lycra shorts, clipless cycling shoes, and a bike helmet, I got to be a cowboy.

I waved to the farmer as I passed the truck, then sped up and continued on my way. I only looked up when I passed the main part of the herd farther down the pasture, to smile, wave at the cows, and shout “You stink!”

Thank goodness the rest of the ride wasn’t upwind.