Sunday, April 10, 2011

Near Death by Falling Cow

I've had some close calls on my bike, broken several helmets, done some damage to body parts, bears, wolves, etc., but never have I come so close to death (a very weird death it would have been) on my bike as yesterday when a cow fell out of the sky a few feet behind me. To put this adventure into perspective I should maybe start at the beginning.

My day started with big plans to get out early and ride a 60-mile loop (George Creek to Weissenfels)on my mountain bike, but everything was in slow motion getting my on the bike - the kid needed help getting ready for a horse event that morning, so my planned 7AM ride time actually started after 9AM. It was a beautiful day though so I was happy, yet I kept feeling that I should ride a different route than planned today. I kept shrugging off this idea and passed by several alternate routes along the way.

At the bottom of George Cr Grade I passed by the ranch house saying "Hi" to the 2-dogs that live there (like I always do) and started up the steep climb. I typically ride up the side of the road closest to the drop-off edge along this grade since the uphill side of the road often produces numerous, sporadic rock falls onto the road. I've had a few small rocks drop onto my helmet and always fear a big rock coming down and doing some real damage. However, on this day I was not really paying attention was riding up the side of road with the cliff directly above. After riding maybe 100 yards I heard a rock-like noise from above and instinctually moved to the other side of the the same time I was glancing back and up to see what was coming at me.

What I say was beyond belief...1st there was rock about 8-10 feet in diameter coming down in a hurry followed closely by a monstrously huge brown cow...Boom, BOOOM!!! Rock hit close to the edge of the road and the cow hit the road exactly were I had just been a second ago. If I had not moved in that last second I would have been under that cow! Holy Cow!!!

Needless to say my heart was totally thumping right out of my chest plus I think I screamed for a microsecond at the time of impact...I was a tad stunned and had some difficulty believing what had just anyone would. Just a few feet away there was a huge dead cow (dead upon impact)...I'm sure my mouth was gaping open in disbelieve until I started to collect my thought again. Finally I had an answer to that question - I've seen a lot of cattle up on the steep, cliffy hillsides around here and I have often wondered if they every fell off those cliffs or rolled down the steep hillsides...I now had indisputable evidence and I will never have to randomly ask myself that kind of question again, because I now know the answer!

After I collected myself a bit more, I made sure I did not pee myself or anything, after which I decided that at least part of the cow would be salvageable if it got to a butcher soon enough. So I went down and proceeded to find someone at the ranch...I finally did contact with the owners who promptly took care of the cow after I convinced them that it just happened and it was a fresh kill vs. an old dead cow I found lying on the road.

I finished my ride which gave me plenty of time to contemplate the whole ordeal. I wondered long and hard about how strong I had felt about not going up that route earlier in the day - it was like there was an unseen force trying to direct me away from my personal plan....hmmm. Then there was the millisecond move I did that truly saved me from being part of the carnage - again it was like I was being directed out of harms way. Looking back I feel I was ignoring some sort of divine intervention of what was to come and even though I continued on I was still shielded from the evil force at work that day. The thought that some demon had tried to do me in with a cow is funny...but then again not at all.

I'm still a little awed about the whole thing and humorously can imagine my obituary saying I was killed by a falling cow. The internet news would have some fun with that one. I did take my wife and kid up there since they were interested in the site...not much left except some blood and hair from the cow, the big rock had been removed also.

This would be appropriate signage for George Cr Grade:


Doug Idaho said...

Woah, that is freaky for sure. Glad you were not hit by all that. Must have made in incredible sight. I must remember to stay right going up that road.

Scott said...

Jen and I rode couse creek and came down George creek grade that same afternoon. I remember passing that big pool of blood and thinking WTF? I considered it for a moment and though.. oh that must be transmission fluid off of something they used to push a rock fall from the road. I find it rather odd that my first thought of OMG look at all that blood was correct.

not sure how we missed you, other than up top, prior to Anatone, we headed up Smyth road to avoid the small section of hiway in to anatone... I suspect we missed each other in that area.


Scott said...

You know, thinking back on it... the story probably explains the wavering bicycle tire tracks that I noticed further up on the outside of the grade. At the time, I remember thinking boy, the person who left those must have been suffering.. they were all over the outside three feet of the road. However now that know the red spot was actually blood and not transmission fluid, I would guess those wavering tracks were probably Eric's and were the result of his head being on a swivel as he an eye out for swooping death cows from above.


Eric Kop-ski said...

I took Sangster Road then cut up to E. Mountain road and through Anatone. So we probably did miss each other in that section. The wondering tracks were from my muscling up on my SS in a purposefully slow cadence (actually I was just being lazy).

Anonymous said...

Eric, so glad you are o.k. I shared your blog with my two sons who were members of the JACSONVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY (ALABAMA) MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING TEAM when they were in college quite a few years ago. I know they will "enjoy" reading about all your adventures. I love seeing your pictures, also. Beautiful art on the trail, I call it! Have a blessed week, and watch out for the cowfalls!

Your cousin in Alabama
Doris Winkler Hobbs

Anonymous said...

correction of spelling in post...
Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama