I see it just before it charges, a gaunt, grey beast crouching by the roadside with ears pressed back and shoulders hunched in anticipation. I swerve to the far side of the lane and accelerate, snarling at the dog as it leaps to give chase. Melissa tenses on the seat behind me as we pass it, and I check the mirror to make sure it’s not gaining on us.
We crest the hill.
“Well that was…”
The unmistakable clatter and slip of gravel snaps my attention to the road, which has suddenly changed from sealed tarmac to loose gravel on oil. No signs, no warning, the visual difference had been almost impossible to tell…
None of that matters. I let go of the throttle and pray.
“I know, I know!”
The bike shudders and shakes as we drop down the gravel slope at 60 km/h, much too fast, much too fast. And ahead, a slight bend in the road.
Not like this, please not like this.
I fight the impulse to brake, to accelerate, to react. Shoulders tense and knuckles whiten, and I steer the bike ever so gently around the corner.
The noise stops as suddenly as it began. The blessed near-silence of tires on tarmac. We made it.
I laugh nervously as a shudder goes through me.
That was a close one!