It’s almost August, that particularly heated, dreaded time of the year when this little town invites everybody to come and share our misery dealing with said heat and the wind. We do this in the form of a bike race…100 miles…in the unforgiving Texas sun. And it’s fun, gosh darn it! All these earnest, sweating bicyclists challenging themselves, attaining a personal best and overcoming obstacles. One obstacle to this mighty race that I have just discovered is, of all things, emus. Yes those big birds with brown feathers who can’t fly, but boy can they run. Apparently those cyclists, outfitted in their colorful second skin, brightly attired, attract these large, curious but bored birds who are navigating the outskirts of town, maybe hold up on a ranch somewhere and tired of the run of the mill cows, coyotes and people running around with those water sticks vainly searching for underground streams. Yes apparently the cyclists have piqued their interest. Maybe the emus want a chance to outdo them.
I can only imagine the fear when these vibrant cyclists, suffering from heat stroke look up to see Big Bird barreling down upon them, giant sprawling feet, little head with beady eyes, and that piercing beak agape… and then “Oh Snap!” and a loud scream. If the cyclists are lucky, then there is just one emu, okay maybe unlucky if that particular emu likes the color red they happen to be wearing. Hopefully the sweltering bikers haven’t encountered a whole flock on the road, then they might suffer from worse than a little nip.
Some interesting emu facts include:
- Females are in charge, they make the males hatch and care for the babies.
- Did I mention they are curious?
- They have “strongly clawed” feed that can rip metal wire fences (how fast can you pedal?)
- They can go 50 km/h which is described otherwise as a “fast, economical trot.
Does anybody happen to know why we have this little bit of Australia in Texas?..oh well, happy racing folks!
Bicycle race photos – Courtesy of City of Wichita Falls