NY man cycling across America is bitten by a dog in Illinois: ‘I just kept going’


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Bob Barnes, the man who is bicycling to all 50 US state capitals in one year, had a face-off with an aggressive dog within days of reaching the state of Illinois.

Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, NY, visited his capital no. 39, Springfield, on May 3. Along his cross-country journey, which began in summer of 2021, Barnes has had a few close calls and some dangerous experiences; his tent even caught fire amid his Michigan trip.

Barnes has also been chased by animals — including a loose bull in Kentucky — but the adventure in Illinois was the first time he was bitten by an animal on his trip.

‘He was on a mission, and I knew it’

Barnes was cycling through a rural area of ​​Illinois when the dog — a mixed breed, with a yellow coat and a beefy build, he said — came after him.

“He was on a mission,” Barnes said. “And I knew it.”

After he visited Springfield, Barnes was bitten by an aggressive dog.  Seen in this image from Barnes is a spot where he set up camp.

After he visited Springfield, Barnes was bitten by an aggressive dog. Seen in this image from Barnes is a spot where he set up camp.
(Bob Barnes)

Barnes carries pepper spray with him so that he’s prepared for any animals that come after him while he’s cycling.

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Barnes, however, missed his first try at spraying the dog in Illinois. That’s when the dog bit Barnes on his left buttock.

“I just kept going,” Barnes said. “I kept pedaling.”

“It didn’t rattle me…I felt I was in control.”

— Bob Barnes, on getting bitten by a dog

The dog kept following him, but Barnes used his pepper spray during the dog’s second and third approach.

“I got him good, and he went back home,” Barnes said matter-of-factly.

“I was very calm because I’ve done it a bunch of times,” he added about fending off aggressive dogs. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t crash while I was looking at him and getting ready to pepper-spray him.”

Barnes said the Illinois State Capitol Dome is one of his favorites from the trip.

Barnes said the Illinois State Capitol Dome is one of his favorites from the trip. “It takes your breath away,” he told Fox News Digital about this nicer aspect of his time spent in Springfield.
(Bob Barnes)

After visiting the Illinois State Capitol, Barnes visited a blood donation center run by ImpactLife — he's made a point of trying to give back to others during his trip.  His bicycle is pictured in front of the building.

After visiting the Illinois State Capitol, Barnes visited a blood donation center run by ImpactLife — he’s made a point of trying to give back to others during his trip. His bicycle is pictured in front of the building.
(Bob Barnes)

Barnes wasn’t injured, however — and the incident didn’t slow him down.

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“It didn’t rattle me,” Barnes said. “I’m actually starting to think maybe that particular can of pepper spray isn’t the strength it should be or something,” he added.

‘You can feel the history’: Riding on Route 66

The Illinois State Capitol dome in Springfield was one of this cyclist’s favorites so far on his journey to all 50 capital cities.

“When you’re up on the second level, and you look up into that dome, you lose your breath,” Barnes said. “It’s like looking down from a skyscraper, but you’re looking into the abyss. It’s really cool.”

Riding along Route 66 was a favorite part of his trip so far, Barnes said.

Riding along Route 66 was a favorite part of his trip so far, Barnes said.
(Bob Barnes)

“It has so much character,” Barnes said of the historic Route 66 highway. “It’s a road — but it’s a destination itself.”
(Bob Barnes)

During his time spent in Illinois, Bob Barnes met a man named Tom who runs this small shop on Route 66.

During his time spent in Illinois, Bob Barnes met a man named Tom who runs this small shop on Route 66.
(Bob Barnes)

What Barnes especially loved about the Prairie State was riding along Route 66.

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“It has so much character,” Barnes said of the historic highway.

“It’s a road, but it’s a destination itself.”

Barnes stopped to observe this sculpture in Lexington, Illinois, on Old Route 66.

Barnes stopped to observe this sculpture in Lexington, Illinois, on Old Route 66.
(Bob Barnes)

“You can feel the history on the road,” Barnes said of Route 66. “It’s pretty cool.”
(Bob Barnes)

Barnes and his bicycle are pictured at Tom's shop on Route 66.

Barnes and his bicycle are pictured at Tom’s shop on Route 66.
(Bob Barnes)

While he was pedaling on Route 66, Barnes met a man named Tom who runs a shop on the highway.

“He welcomed me and told me about everything on Route 66, gave me some great literature on what to look for in each town, which was awesome,” Barnes said.

He added that Tom exemplified the rest of Illinois.

“Illinois is very welcoming,” Barnes said.

One landmark along Route 66 that particularly stood out to Barnes was a filled-in subway, he said.

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“Route 66 became so busy that they had to dig a tunnel underneath the road,” Barnes said. “They called it the subway in this little town, for the kids to cross the street.”

“And then, at one point, they filled it in because Route 66 went away,” he added.

This filled-in subway stood out to Barnes as an interesting piece of history.

This filled-in subway stood out to Barnes as an interesting piece of history.
(Bob Barnes)

During his trip, Barnes passed the world's largest covered wagon, shown here in Lincoln, Illinois.

During his trip, Barnes passed the world’s largest covered wagon, shown here in Lincoln, Illinois.
(Bob Barnes)

“It was so odd,” Barnes said of this statue in Atlanta, Illinois. “It was just there and it was huge — and it was like, ‘Just come look at me, because I’m a big Paul Bunyan eating a hot dog.'”
(Bob Barnes)

Barnes also stopped by a Paul Bunyan statue in Atlanta, Illinois.

“It was so odd,” Barnes said. “It was just there and it was huge — and it was like, ‘Just come look at me, because I’m a big Paul Bunyan eating a hot dog.'”

‘Outrageous’ and ‘violent’

Barnes faced a couple of other challenges while in Illinois: the wind and a broken phone.

“I always feel like people are going to think I’m exaggerating when I try to explain the wind, but it’s outrageous,” Barnes said. “It’s violent.”

The wind was so intense in Illinois that it knocked over Barnes' bicycle.

The wind was so intense in Illinois that it knocked over Barnes’ bicycle.
(Bob Barnes)

“It’s incredibly hard, physically demanding just to pedal into the wind,” Barnes added, explaining that the wind has been the hardest part of his trip overall.

He said it was even more challenging than cycling uphill.

“It’s unbelievable how windy it can be.”

Bob Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, NY, has been cycling to every state capital in the span of one year.  His next stop after Illinois: the state of Iowa.

Bob Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, NY, has been cycling to every state capital in the span of one year. His next stop after Illinois: the state of Iowa.
(Bob Barnes)

One morning, right as he was heading out for the day, Barnes dropped his phone and cycled over it.

The broken phone wouldn’t turn on again, so Barnes had to find a Verizon store by asking people along the way.

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“It didn’t demotivate me, but it did take a toll on my stress levels,” Barnes said of the incident. “I don’t like to admit that I get stressed out, but that was a little difficult.”

Barnes found the people in Illinois to be

Barnes found the people in Illinois to be “very welcoming.” He took this picture in Cayuga, Illinois.
(Bob Barnes)

Barnes saw this gorgeous rainbow in the sky in Cayuga, Illinois.

Barnes saw this gorgeous rainbow in the sky in Cayuga, Illinois.
(Bob Barnes)

He was able to make it to the next Verizon store and get set up with a new phone.

“The phone itself is crucial,” said Barnes, who has been documenting his trip and posting the adventures on Facebook.

Next stop: Iowa

After he left Illinois on May 6, Barnes arrived in Iowa for his 40th capital city: Des Moines.

Once he visits each capital of the Lower 48, Barnes explained that he plans to bike to Juneau, Alaska, after taking a ferry from Canada.

He’ll later bike to Honolulu, Hawaii, after flying with his bike to the island.

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Fox News Digital has been following Bob Barnes’ journey across America and detailing it for readers in this unique Lifestyle series. To catch up on — or enjoy once more! — his previous three trips before the one described here, read more below:

NY man cycling to all 50 states burns his tent down in Michigan: ‘I tried not to panic’

NY man cycling across America enjoys the ‘kindness’ he found in Indiana’s capital

NY man cycling to all 50 states faces bull on the loose in Kentucky: ‘Imminent danger’

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