Joy ride and those pesky deer

Since I hadn’t flown in a while, I decided to take this afternoon and enjoy the weather with a joy ride through the countryside. It was a little cool, but comfortable enough. It was one of very few rides I’ve taken that didn’t lead to the airport or back since I started flying. I was still within the 100 mile break-in period of new tires (new motorcycle tires need to be scuffed up a little; before that, they’re kind of slick), so I took it easy for the first half. The tires felt great for the second half of my 60 mile ride.

I saw the odometer hit 6,537 miles. I bought this bike over a year ago with 537 miles on it. So, as of today, I’ve ridden over 6,000 miles. Seems like a lot and not a lot at the same time. By far the biggest “problem” I’ve encountered in my year of riding is deer (and other critters that cross the road). I’m convinced there is no deer season or time of day. I’ve seen them at all times of day and in all types of weather. I saw a little one today staring me down as I quickly slowed and waited for its move. He took off into the woods.

The closest call I’ve had was last Wednesday night on my way back from ground school at the airport. It was close to midnight on Old US1 not far from home. Visibility was good (there is often fog at that time of night this time of year) and I was actively scanning for the beasties as I always do. This big guy was standing still not five feet from the right side of the road facing left, so I didn’t see the usual eyes reflecting back at me. As soon as I did see him, I went into serious quickstop mode. The rear tire skid and the backend wiggled as I would expect. The deer jumped in front of me onto the road and then jumped back off of it to my right. I had slowed from 55 to maybe 25 before I was passed him and let off the brakes. All of this happened in what seemed like two seconds.

I continued a wee bit more cautiously than usual, thinking to myself about “what if” and about the effectiveness of my gear. I was also thankful I had taken the MSF basic riding course and had practiced quickstops over the past year to know how this bike would handle with heavy braking. Granted, had the deer not jumped back off the road, we probably would’ve made a mess together, but I have to give myself some credit for not panicing, not swerving, and not locking up the front brake. It would’ve at least been a fairly low speed collision.

I don’t like deer anymore, but they’re a part of riding in this neck o’ the woods. I’m just glad they can’t fly.