Sunday, October 9, 2016

Forest Rats

 Some of my readers know that I hit a deer with a bike a while back. The 16th anniversary of that crash was yesterday. If you didn't hear about it then you can read all about it here.
 I've been messing around with the GoPro trying to come up with a decent mount on the bike. On my ride to and from work I've been shooting video and to be honest, they all suck. There was one video of me almost hitting a big bird. I think it was a pterodactyl. There was also a video of a squirrel doing the back and forth dance in front of me. Make up your mind already. I don't even swerve for these idiots and consider them squishable. Whats not squishable, as I've discovered, are deer. Forest rats. The ones that are grazing in the fields don't bother me. I don't even get too excited about the ones standing along the road as if they're waiting for a clear shot to cross, like this one spotted two nights ago:

 The ones that freak me out are the speed demons doing the blind folded road runner impersonation. Here's a craptacular video but a good example of what I mean.

 If you squint hard enough you'll see a deer cross in front of the oncoming car, left to right. Part of me wishes I could have had a better video of this rat. On the other hand, I didn't have any extra underwear with me so no thanks on the close calls.
 So what do you do? Some people just won't ride because of these threats. Others wear all the gear available and "dress for the crash". That, combined with good scanning practices is probably a decent plan. I dress that way some times but not always. On any given day you'll spot me in varying degrees of appropriate riding gear. That's my choice. It's not always a smart choice but it's a risk I've chosen to accept. And I'm not alone. I've spoken to other riders that have crashed and suffered. They ride on their terms.
 The other day I didn't ride to work. I wussed out. Partially because of dense fog and if I didn't wear rain gear I'd be soaked, and partially because it seemed unsafe. I was uncomfortable with the whole idea.
 Safety didn't always rank so high. It used to be third behind showing off and looking good. My showing off skills aren't what they used to be and they weren't much to begin with. As for looking good, that really never was a thing for me and it gets worse as the years roll by. You'd think that would bump safety up to number one but you'd be wrong. While no one was looking, comfort quietly snuck its way up from last place and found a home on top of the list.
 What does that mean? Well first we have physical comfort. My Ultra Limited is designed with operator comfort in mind. I can hide behind the fairing while wearing a heated vest and turn on the heated seat and grips to aid in comfort. My choice to wear or not to wear a helmet also is based on comfort. Sometimes that comfort decision is based on the weather and sometimes it's about perceived risk. Ya, I know its a far cry from ATGATT (all the gear all the time) and may sound odd from someone thats banged their helmeted head on the asphalt after hitting a deer. It's just the way it is. One day I may feel comfortable wearing nothing but a smile while riding the Rat Turd with its cast iron seat and the next day I've got all the gear on. Wearing the gear gives me confidence and mental comfort and that helps me concentrate on the road. With the remembrance of that nasty encounter 16 years ago, lately I've been covering up with the appropriate gear.
 So one day you may see me jammin out head bangin on the Ultra. What I hope you never see again is me bangin my head on the road.


edit. I watched these videos after posting them and they have nowhere near the quality needed to actually see the deer. More practice needed. I also apologize for associating head bangin with Green Day as heard in the first video.

1 comment:

  1. Forest rats. We're surrounded by them here as well. Touch wood (taps temple) I've never had a close encounter with the bike, but have had several on 4 wheels. Wolf and coyote populations are way down - no thanks to hunters and farmers - so these buggers are breeding like rabbits. Last statistics I saw there was an average of more than 1 deer strike in this area each and every day - 380-something a year. Fortunately only 1 or 2 involved bikes, which is 1 or 2 too many imo.