I was riding home from playing harp (harmonica) at an open mic night about thirty miles or so from my home a few nights ago, and as I was cruising along an empty state highway under a full moon at about 60 mph, I flicked on my bright light to watch out for deer (as I usually do out in the sticks).
Within a minute, a doe came bounding across the road from a ditch to my right about 30 yards in front of me. The distance was such that I didn’t even have time to slow down before she was safely across the street and out of the way. But I realized how glad I was that I had automatically switched on my high beam because that gave me at least a little bit of warning that she was coming across and I didn’t freak. I then rode on about twenty more miles to a bar in the middle of my hometown where a friend of mine named Lori was working until closing-time. It was about midnight.
The bar was empty and as she and I sat out on the deck smoking cigarettes and bullshitting, about 50 yards away I spied another doe slowly crossing the street in front of us. I pointed her out to Lori, and she and I sat enjoying the peacefulness of sitting and watching it. There’s something about a deer casually moving about that is calming to behold. Now our town is a small town, but the bar IS in a populated neighborhood with sidewalks, streetlights etc. and as we sat watching, the doe gracefully took her time strolling across the street under a streetlight and on into a cemetery where she disappeared into the distance. A short time later I bid goodbye to my friend and headed on home.
I rode across town out of the village, and when I was into the “township” on a state highway near to where I live, I opened it up to the 55 mph speed limit. As soon as I got ‘er up there, I almost ran into ANOTHER deer (this time a huge buck with a nice rack) as it ran across the road right in front of me!
The only explanation I can think of for seeing three good sized deer in one evening, separately in different locations, at this time of year (Memorial Day weekend), within an hour of each other, was that it was a full moon on a very warm night.
I have a friend who lives near Athens, Ohio just outside Wayne National Forest. Over the years he has crashed his bike into deer FIVE times! A few more deer were hit by his car, but it’s the bike/deer collisions that he’s remembered the most because they’re so life-threatening! Many of us have bent up the grilles of our cars due to deer (I know I have a few times). But on a bike, that just might get yourself and your passenger killed!
Just about all of us have hit critters with our cars. Sometimes you even say to yourself, “Wow! I don’t even know what that was! I wonder if I missed it!” Often you can try to straddle something small in a car or truck. But on a bike, unless you’re pulling a side-hack (a sidecar), that’s not possible. And a trike has THREE separate tire-tracks that are sure to hit anything!
I do a lot of “country” riding regularly... and I do ride carefully, but I’ve hit everything from groundhogs to skunks. I’ve hit both dogs AND cats (I’m an equal opportunity death-machine). I’ve run head-on into birds in flight, squirrels darting back and forth in front of me, coons running from one garbage can to another one across the street... hell, I even ran over a corner of a huge snapping turtle’s shell once! THAT sucker almost upset the bike, but didn’t (I think all that did to the turtle was make it start to pay attention!)
One of the grossest things I remember hitting was when I thought I was seeing the surface of the road moving a short distance before me. As I slowed down, I ended up running over a bunch of frogs that all wanted to cross the road at the same time for some reason. OH, THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!! (I’ll never be able to forget the sound of that! I thought my tires were exploding!!) OK, enough with the ugly shit...
Ya never know what you’re going to do when a living thing crosses your path and you’re traveling at highway speed. Potholes are bad enough, but at least they don’t move on ya. In some cases you have time to slow down to allow the critter to get out of the way. Sometimes you can stop. Often you can safely swerve to miss it. But sometimes ya just gotta hit the damned thing and hope it doesn’t take ya down! Of course a lot of what ya decide to do (if you have time) has to do with the SIZE of what you’re talking about.
On a poker run some years ago, a cow wandered out into the road in front of a friend of mine. I was about fifty yards behind him and thankful that he decided to (and had time to) stop and wait for Bossie to slowly move her ass out of the way. But before she did, the old cow calmly turned her head and looked at us like we were in HER way! LOL! And in HER world, I guess we were!
I have this pushbutton thing on my handlebars that when pressed emits a semi-loud sound that is apparently there only for signaling others when you want to say, “Hi!” or “Bye!” and that’s about it. I seriously thought about installing an air-horn instead, but then ya don’t WHAT the hell will happen! In most incidents on a bike, blowing your horn is only good in the aftermath of an incident so you can call attention to what just happened. So don’t always depend on a horn for anything except bitching and complaining to the other motorist AFTER something happens (which is better than kicking in their car door. THAT can put ya in jail!)
Well kids, I guess I’m getting out of here to see if there’s anything I can run into this late-afternoon. The sun is beginning to set and I’m sure there’ll at least be lotsa bugs who want to sacrifice their lives to the bright lights of the motorcycle god!! But they’re NO fun! I don’t use a windshield and they taste terrible!
See ya next month...