Fellow athletes out there, I suggest you read the following article. It appears that there's a threat from the skies that could swoop down and attack at any moment, mistaking one's ponytail for a giant squirrel.
Full credit for alerting me to this article goes to Sarah. Sarah and I also have a bit of a personal stake in this matter, seeing as we almost fell victim to a swooping giant bird (possibly an owl) during our bike ride last Saturday.
The scene: a beautiful Saturday morning, the picture of fall perfection - low humidity, blue skies, zero clouds. Bike perfection as well - low traffic roads, a good girlfriend to chat with, no ridiculous intervals, and beautiful forest and farmland scenery to enjoy.
Picture this - Sarah and I, having a chatty ride on a low-traffic road. Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah the way girls chit-chat. We start going down a hill, still chatting, when OUT OF NOWHERE, swooping down from the trees, this GIANT BIRD, with the wingspan twice the size of Michael Jordan's, comes flapping down right at us. Sarah and I screech in unison, ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that the bird was going to land on one of us, grab our helmet in its talons, and take off, biker and bike in tow (since it would be awfully hard to unclip while being carried off into the blue yonder). And there really wasn't any way to get away from the bird if it decided to attack - we were already going 30+mph down this hill and it was keeping up. Oh, and there was a pack of deer straight ahead of us, crossing the road. So if the bird wasn't going to get us, the deer were going to trample us. Saturday was a day of vicious wildlife in Maryland. Somehow, we made it through unscathed, escaping the talons of the bird and the hooves of the deer.
Lesson: riders and runners beware. Birds that look cute when perched in a tree are about a billion times less cute when they are dive-bombing you, intent on scooping you up in their talons.