The newspaper editor swears he ran this story, but I never saw it. So here it is, just for you…one of my favorites.
(Fourth of Animal Antics Series)
If you wonder what compels me to ride my bike 100 miles a week, it is not just for the social outlet, it is also because I am a triathlete. My long therapy rides with Mary are also training rides.
My most proud/embarrassing animal-rescue-bike-ride involves a 30 mile solo ride. Mary couldn’t ride on this virtuous morning so I set out alone. This loop goes through sections of Fayette and Bourbon County and tends to have more commuter traffic than our more remote routes in Scott County. I was on a mission, I wanted to average over 17 miles an hours. So I assumed a nice tuck whenever possible and focused on speed.
As I headed down the road, surrounded by thoroughbred farms, I passed a dead possum. This is not unusual as you know; they are common road kill in these parts. But as I glanced back I noticed this dead possum was different, something wasn’t right. I hesitantly came to a stop, risking a sub 17 mile per hour ride, and pedaled back to the not yet bloated carcass.
I was right, it was dead. But on its tummy, squirming in and out of its pouch were half a dozen or so little pink bodies. Her babies were still alive… (insert your favorite sound effect here…eek! Ew! Blahh!Hmmm?)
Lucky for me, she was hit next to a driveway. I pulled my bike off the road and began unloading my under-the-seat-flat-repair-pouch, shoving its contents into my behind-the-handlebars-bento box. Then I glanced at the dead possum. Blunt trauma to the head. She didn’t suffer.
I reached down, shoved my hand into the cold pouch of the dead beast and grasped the slightly wet and sticky body of the pink possum baby. I pulled and much to my surprise, the thing was attached and refused to let go of its mother. “Come on! Let go! She’s dead already. I’m trying to save you!” I decided to get tough and yanked. It let go of the nipple and I shoved it into my newly emptied bike pouch/bag. As I reached down to grab another one I heard the sound of an oncoming car. Instantly I let go, turned away from the dead animal and begin to pretend I was tying my shoe.
At this point, I am assuming most motorist are not aware that bike shoes do not have laces, they have Velcro and they don’t become untied while biking. I am also pretending that it is not strange that I chose to ‘tie my shoe’ right next to the carcass of a possum. The truck passed, I resumed my rescue. Another one goes into the bike pouch. Each time a car passed I would ‘tie my shoe’, then resume.
Eventually I had seven live babies. I felt around deep into the dead animals pouch, searching for another moving baby, but the rest were cold and dead. It was time to zip up the bike pouch and go.
With a sad farewell to the dead possum mommy, I hit start on my wrist Garmin again and set out for home. The adrenaline of the rescue carried me. I averaged 18 miles an hour when I got to my driveway, a personal record!
Once in the house I greeted my family with a smirk. They knew instantly that I was up to my antics. I showed them my find and they followed orders like nurses in a surgery room. They brought me a heating pad, some baby blankets, the kitten milk replacer. My kids watched with excitement as the little pink possums slowly came back to life. I discouraged the kids from getting too attached, as they couldn’t stay with us, I am not licensed to rehab wild animals (believe it or not).
Once they were warm and fed, I found the number of a local licensed rehabber and delivered the little guys to her. The rehabber promised to send pictures of the little buggers as they grow. I am anxiously awaiting their arrival.