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I think I've finally answered an age-old question. I know why the chicken crossed the road.

The answer? To get out from in front of my bicycle.

OK, technically the chicken in question only crossed half the road. And I'm not quite sure if it was trying to get out from in front of me or was just terrified by the sight of a 57-year-old man in biking shorts and a helmet that looks like a ventilated mushroom bearing down on him at not-exactly breakneck speed. Though I must say the opportunity to break my neck (or arms, collarbone or some other thing I'd really rather not break) certainly exists any time I mount up, regardless of the speed.

The chicken in question was standing in the middle of one of the small roads I ride on fairly early in the morning (again, bike shorts, goofy-looking helmet: I think we can all see the wisdom of me riding before most people are awake. And that wisdom might be the only thing in this scenario anyone really wants to see).

I'm not sure what the chicken was doing there. The age-old question isn't "why did the chicken walk out in the middle of the road, stop and start looking around?"

Since I ride without my glasses (seriously, even I don't really want to see me in biking shorts), I wasn't quite certain what I was coming up on at first. I'm sure, for the chicken, the feeling was mutual. I think we both recognized each other at the same time, though that's where the similarities end. The chicken was frightened by seeing something in florescent yellow and a headlamp (hey, I want to be seen, even if no one else really wants to see me) tearing (relatively speaking) down on it.

I was relieved the black thing in the road wasn't the black-and-white thing I've come across fairly frequently on my early morning rides. I mean, I don't think we have as much tomato juice on hand as we used to and the folks at my office really don't require a lot of corroboration to go with my stories.

Needless to say, the chicken took off for the relative safety of the yard it had wandered out of, and I kept going hoping this wasn't a sign that down the road I was going to run into the collection of ducks who live nearby and apparently hadn't taken the "selection" part of "natural selection" too seriously when they decided to start families. Not to be insulting, but they started off as ugly ducklings and stayed that way.

The running chicken (needless contradiction or delicious irony? Take your pick) did, however, illustrate one of the challenges I've faced living in a region where the difference between urban and rural is often the width of a bike path.

On previous rides, I've had to pause while a deer crossed the trail ahead of me. "Paused," is, of course, a diplomatic way to describe slamming on the brakes and skidding crazily while yelling things a family newspaper can't print, all in an effort not to have a really good story to tell down at the ER.

Unlike the chicken, the deer was much more graceful in its trek across the road. And, while I'm not an expert, I believe it was laughing.

These aren't the only two representatives from the Wild(?) Kingdom I've experienced on my rides. I've raced rabbits (the rabbits, and, frankly, any tortoises in the area, would have won). I typically dodge birds of all kinds (though the chicken was a first) and I've seen possums, squirrels and those black-and-white things (speak of the Devil and he shall appear) scurrying home after a night on the town.

I've also seen beautiful sunrises, the fog drifting across the fields and smelled wildflowers in bloom, right when the hills were getting tough and I needed a little something to carry me on.

And if that wasn't enough to make it worthwhile, I'm going to pause here and add that the mental image of that chicken running brightened my entire day. It's not that I want to scare the livestock, so to speak. It's just that there was nothing I was going to do on that or any other day that appeared to require so much effort with so much gracelessness for so little gain.

Because watching that chicken run also provided me with one other thing: the very best illustration of the phrase "confusing effort with progress."

Commentary on 06/16/2017

Print Headline: Uneasy rider

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