I was past the halfway point and heading back, through an area with lots of trees and bushes, when I saw a grey streak out of the corner of my eye. It was a squirrel, on a vector to cross the trail.
It ran alongside for a split second then tried to go across. *Through* my front bike wheel.
There was a *ping* sound as it bounced off the spokes, and then it was catapulted up into the air by my side.
At that point, everything went in slow motion. Me, going 15+ miles per hour, looking at a squirrel hovering three feet off the ground next to me. The squirrel looking at me while reaching for anything it could grab. Me saying "Holy C---".
Then the squirrel hit the ground and scampered off, hopefully none the worse for the experience.
I think word got out to the squirrel network, as the rest of the ride squirrels kept trying to cut in front of the bike. But this time I saw them and slowed down.
Thank goodness the squirrel didn't make it into my wheel. Because it would have died and I would have catapulted over the handlebars when the bike came to a screeching squirrel-caused halt.
So, overall, it was the best ending one could hope for. Woke me up, that's for sure!