Ram chases cyclist on road just outside of Thunder Bay city limits
The animal, which escaped from a nearby farm, really likes people, the owner says
If you walk, run or bike on roads in northwestern Ontario, you know that run-ins with animals are not out of the ordinary.
Sometimes you'll see a cat, or dog, or maybe deer. There may even be the occasional chicken, cow, or fox.
But Keith Ailey recently had the strangest encounter of his cycling life.
Ailey, who hails from Thunder Bay, about 1,400 kilometres northwest of Toronto, was chased by a black ram on Townline Road, just west of the city.
"I'm coming down from the north end and I see something black across the road, you know, maybe 300 metres in front of me. And it was pretty big for a dog and really hairy … It was too small for a bear."
The animal turned out to be a shaggy black ram, with quite a formidable set of horns. The ram, which was standing at the side of the road, looked at Ailey as he cycled past it.
That seemed to be a trigger.
"As soon as I went past him, he did a full-on sprint. He was kind of charging and making some, some grunts, or pretty deep baas at the very least."
Was it his fluorescent clothing, the flashing bike lights, or just that the ram hadn't seen a cyclist on the road all winter, Ailey wondered.
Whatever it was, the ram was not impressed.
Ram on the run
"I looked back and he was there."
Ailey said he could almost hear its hooves on the asphalt.
"He was running after me and if I slowed down, he would speed up. And I thought, I wonder if he's going to give me a good shot here."
Ailey said the ram followed him for more than a kilometre and at some point he decided to get out his camera and record video of what was happening.
Eventually Ailey saw a truck coming in the opposite direction and waved it down because he was was worried the ram was going to get hit. The truck slowed and that got the ram's attention.
"He kind of went over to the truck and hung out with him for a little bit. And I pedaled off."
Ailey said the whole thing was surreal and fell in a weird area between hilarious and scary.
Ozzy, the speedy ram
It turns out, the ram is named Ozzy, and belongs to Julie Grgurich of Townline Equestrian Centre, whose property is along that road. Ozzy is a registered Icelandic ram, just under two years old, and was recently taken in at the farm.
Grguirch understands it would be startling to have a ram seemingly in pursuit of you and said she was sorry if he scared Ailey.
"He's our farm greeter, and he is the sweetest creature on earth. He's so in love with people, he has no idea that he is actually a ram," she said.
"When we got him, we got him as a friend for our other sheep here and they have zero connection. He only connects with humans."
It turns out that Ozzy had been caught stealing in the grain room that day, and wandered away during the few minutes when he wasn't being watched after being kicked out, Grguirch said. She ended up retrieving Ozzy from a nearby feed store.
"We figure he followed the truck out the driveway and then he got kind of disoriented and couldn't figure out how to get back in the yard. Then, he probably saw the cyclist, and if he sees a person he's right there with you.
"I hope that people recognize that he's just sweet, and that they are sweet creatures. I probably have to close my gate when he's loose, that's one thing I'm going to have to think about."