I've been riding my bicycle more lately, as my nephew Keenan has decided it is his favorite thing to do now.
It started with my mother telling me that I needed to take him on a bicycle ride because apparently his doctor said he has "poor muscle tone" or some shit. So I went expecting that I might get him to go a few miles before deciding he'd had enough, but instead he just wanted to keep going, until we were up to 22 miles. We might not have come back if it weren't getting dark out and I was getting low on energy.
The next day we went again, and that time went 25 miles.
The day after that, we went again, but only went 18 miles as it wasn't as warm out and so I didn't want to stay out as late.
I'd been bothering Clayton (another nephew) to go with us but he'd been busy all three days doing homework which he eventually didn't even finish and turn in. On day four, however, he no longer had that excuse, and so came with us.
I decided to take them over to Richmond where there's a (relatively) new bicycle trail that has been created out of an old railroad line. It goes from Richmond all the way past Muncie, and so it's far longer than anyone would actually want to travel. Having no easy way to get over there, a little more than half of our bicycle trip was simply getting to the bicycle trail.
Here's a map of our movements, as recorded by my GPS.
The trail itself begins where there's a little white dot next to the word "Wayne" which is, of course, just the name of the county. I have no idea what the dot is there for. The trail also extends south into Richmond, where it ends shortly before leading people off a cliff into the gorge.
These sorts of trails are awesome. There's no traffic to worry about and the paths are relatively flat. Unfortunately I didn't bother to take my camera, and so I have no pictures, but they look nice. They're paved, about 6 feet wide, and anywhere there is a bridge, they rebuild it so that it is suitable for pedestrians. There are also little rest areas at regular intervals, with some areas for seating, some parking spaces, and a portable toilet. There's no water available, which is unfortunate as carrying around a heavy backpack full of water is the most annoying aspect of long bicycle rides.
...and speaking of backpacks, I have more now:
I decided I'd had enough of carrying everyone's water on my back, and so it's time for everyone to carry their own weight.
Each backpack is made from an ordinary school backpack and a safety vest. I start by removing the seams from each, keeping the back-side of the backpack and the straps for re-use, along with one of the zippers. Then I take the fabric from the safety vest and cut out the necessary panels, and also cut out identically sized panels of denim for use on the inside, so that it has some extra strength. I probably spent 16 hours making the 3 new backpacks. The one with yellow on it is my old one from years ago. I left the yellow out this time since I had decided I hate the yellow only about an hour after making the original backpack.
The white parts are reflective fabric. It's far more reflective than bicycle reflectors, and it's also much larger in size. It's very useful in the middle of summer when it is too hot outside to go riding during the day. The orange fabric isn't just exceptionally noticeable in the daylight, but it's even brighter during dawn and dusk, when far more ultraviolet light is present vs. normal light, and so it kind of glows as if under a black light, which is good since at that time of the day a lot of drivers are lazy about turning on their headlights, and the reflective fabric only works when they have their headlights on.
Anyway, I did take a few photos on a previous bicycle ride. Here's two of them:
I bought myself some pepper spray a few days ago. I had wanted some for a long time for use on vicious dogs. I've only ever encountered one on the ~1500 miles of bicycle riding I've done, and one while delivering pizzas, and one while simply walking around New Paris, but that's still far too many. Eventually one of the damn things will decide to bite me. Hell, the one I encountered on a bicycle was nipping at my legs, it just wasn't actually biting.
The company that makes the pepper spray deserves some sort of award for terrible packaging design. Here's the label from the stuff:
It's Geocities all over again. Not only is that background image far too distracting, but it doesn't even tile.
The packaging even uses Comic Sans:
I tried searching YouTube for examples of successful use of pepper spray, for both dog attacks and human attacks.
Almost all of the examples of use on dogs I could find were ridiculous, like videos of mail men using pepper spray on dogs which are behind fences, and people similarly spraying dogs in their neighbors yard through a fence. One semi-legitimate use of it was a video someone made from their car, after spraying some dogs encountered while they were reading a meter on someone's house. However, he mentions that the dogs always attack him at that house which really brings into question whether or not they were actually any danger at all.
I've seen a lot of dogs. For the most part, all they want to do is defend their territory, however, they really have no clue at all how to do that. So they run and bark in an effort to appear intimidating, but try to avoid any real confrontation because they're not confident that they would win. They don't know that humans suck at fighting dogs. The other factor in their lack of attack is that it is simply not necessary. Why would a dog risk injury to itself in a fight? The only reason it would is if someone taught it that fighting was necessary, or if someone taught it to expect that it wouldn't be injured.
The examples of pepper spray on humans are quite interesting as well.
The majority of them are videos of people intentionally allowing themselves to be sprayed. Amusingly, all of the adults claim that they're doing this for demonstration or training purposes, while only the kids acknowledge that they're simply doing it for fun. Truth is they're all doing it just for fun. Even the military/police training, as it doesn't take much thought to realize that continuing to fight even after being sprayed with pepper spray isn't anything that you're going to improve at with practice. Why don't they go one step further and train them to fight after being shot in the leg? The pepper spray training is nothing but an initiation ritual.
One does have to wonder just how effective pepper spray can be if so many people are willingly subjecting themselves to it.
You also have to wonder after seeing any of the videos where, during a "demonstration," the person being sprayed pretends to attack the person spraying them. The degree to which these people hold back on their attack, completely ignoring their victim's other arm as it attempts to use the pepper spray, is ridiculous. ...and in half of the videos, even after the victim finally activates the pepper spray, they fail to actually hit the attacker in the eyes, and so they have to make a second attempt at their demonstration. When they do finally spray them in they eyes, there's another ten second delay before it really takes effect.
The only sane way I could imagine using this stuff would be to first run away, then, while running away, prepare the pepper spray for use in the possibility that my attacker runs faster than I do, and then only use it while spraying behind me as I continue to run since, even if I hit them, it'll still be another ten seconds before they're really bothered by it.
As for effective use of pepper spray, I did see two security camera videos where people working in a store which was being robbed used it on the people robbing them. It seemed quite effective in those cases, but I imagine a lot of that had to do with the fact that people who would do something like that are looking for an easy way to get something. Once it's no longer easy, it doesn't make sense for them to do anything other than get the hell out of there.
One ineffective (and inappropriate) use of it I saw was a video on a bus where a woman and man were having an argument about something. The man got up to leave the bus, and as he was walking away, the woman reached around and sprayed him with pepper spray. He continued to leave the bus, but then returned and beat the shit out of the woman. One of the comments said something like "she deserves it. You don't spray someone who's walking away."
That probably sums it up well enough. Pepper spray will help if you're just a random victim, but if someone's out to get you specifically, it may not do you any good.