Stoker and I noticed the goat with his/her head and horns poking through the wire fence. And we heard the bleating, which might have meant ‘Hi there’ or ‘ The grass really IS better on this side’. But it also could have meant ‘I’m stuck, you dumb human. Help me get out!’
Stoker wanted to go back, but stopping and turning a tandem around is not a simple matter. We were at cruising speed and already behind the others, as is usual when the CoMotion goes on a Stockton Bike Club ride. I assured her the goat probably wasn’t stuck and even if it was it would get out eventually. I also told her that if the goat was still there on our return trip we would stop.
G Man was just behind us, and he decided to pause and see if the goat needed assistance. The answer was yes, the goat was well and truly stymied. G Man was able to get some slack in the wire and maneuver the creature’s head and horns back inside the fence. When he told us what happened at the regroup just up the road he became the hero of the day, especially for Stoker, who has a soft spot for goats because we used to have 5 of them as pets. At one time! I made sure I treated G Man to breakfast in gratitude for easing Stoker’s mind from worry about the goat, which could distract her from pedaling with enthusiasm, to the detriment of the tandem’s progress.
Rescuing goats on our Club rides is rare, but not unprecedented. I have done it twice myself. The first time was back in 2007. We were returning to Ione from Plymouth, and at the east end of Five Mile Road my friend Karen H. noticed a goat in the fence that she remembered seeing in the same spot 4 hours earlier. So the goat was really stuck and probably not very happy. Karen tried, no luck. Gary J. tried, also no luck. Karen went to look for the owner, and then I went into action.
I learned from dealing with Stoker’s ‘pets’ that the trick to handling a goat is to realize that you are not going to break its neck if you really manhandle him/her. Goats are tough critters not easily damaged. You simply have to show the goat who is boss, and then they cooperate. So I pushed and pulled and prodded and suddenly the goat was freed and cavorted off as if nothing had happened. The only casualty was my very nice and nearly new Castelli jersey, which I snagged on the barbed wire.
The second time was a year or so later, in exactly the same spot. It might have even been the same goat. This time we stopped and I had help from Jack B. Good thing, either this goat had longer horns or had become jammed inside a smaller opening. It was all we could do for one of us to pull the wire while the other manipulated the goat’s head and horns. Somehow we did it and the goat went trotting off with not even a glance back.
So G Man’s rescue was not the first for the Stockton Bicycle Club, but it was certainly appreciated by the goat and by Stoker.