Sunday, October 24, 2010

Please Be Careful

Dear Friends, in-person, cyber, real or virtual,

As we enter into the [Northern Hemisphere's] winter season, we also enter the deer rutting season.  The statistics read that West and Northwestern states have a lower chance of deer-auto accidents, but it is still  there. 

One of my personal fears is hitting, or being hit by, a deer on the motorcycle.  I afear for myself and those around me.  Always have and always will. Reading "Face Plants" on one of my favoritists forums doesn't help when people post up pictures and discussions of deer encounters. 

However, it is a fact of life and one I hope we all take seriously.

On a recent ride (that I haven't written up yet) it was an extremely long day and we were exiting the mountains after sundown.  It was actually full dark by the time we crested the mountain and started down, still one and a half hours from home.  We were three bikes, with Mr. Oilburner leading.  I didn't mind the pace through the twisties as we had a slow moving behemoth SUV in front of us.  But he soon turned right where we headed straight.  Mr. Oilburner set a rapid, speed limit pace that I didn't care for as I envisioned him splattering through a deer.  I mentally went through my escape routes, then wondered if I had faith in the guy riding behind me to avoid either me or Mr. Oilburner.  (And the guy in the car following him as he was also part of our group.)

At first I entreated with Mr. Oilburner to slow down for darkness and deer.  He kindly scoffed and said deer weren't anything to worry about.  I remonstrated that if he hit a deer I was just going to run right over him and not care.  He slowed down...

We've had this discussion quite a few times over the years and he just feels that the chances of hitting a deer are very small.  I tend to disagree with that logic and retort with why take the risk.  Yes, deer are completely unpredictable, but you can avoid riding at night during rutting season.  And you can slow down if you have to ride at night.  I don't see how slowing down is going to break the trip.  This may be an area where he thinks I am being overly cautious, but he does allow it to me and will follow my lead/rule/commandment.

All is well and happy in the household.

On Thursday a [cyber] call comes through our local motorcycle group.  A man riding his motorcycle died on Tuesday.  Police believe it was a deer encounter based upon the skid marks.  It was a lone accident without witnesses.  This was a man who enjoyed riding, even riding two up with his wife and friends quite a bit.  They weren't involved in any specific group and the family was asking if any riders would come out to escort him from the funeral home to the cemetery.

This man was Mr. Oilburner's age.  Married about as long as we have been with two teenage boys.  We felt it would be a good thing to go and pay respects, fulfilling the family's wishes.  When we arrived, we learned that his oldest son was planning on riding his motorcycle to lead his father.  That he was going to ride even if no one showed up and he was alone.  I am glad we went.

My deepest sympathies to the family.  They seemed like a very loving group of people with a great sense of humor.  Many of us that did show up on motorbikes didn't know the family, yet we were urged to join in the ceremony and partake of the good food afterwards.  I felt like an interloper, wanting to pay my respects but not knowing how.  I hope we were able to offer some comfort and that we respectfully fulfilled a role they wanted.  (I felt like more of an interloper, knowing this was a Harley man.  Surrounded by quite a few loud and rumbling Harley's, which I do enjoy most of the time, and I buzzing away on my little sewing machine engine.)

There is nothing quite like honoring a Harley man with a twist of the throttle on a machine that has straight pipes and deafening half the crowd around it.  Half the crowd only because the people on the side opposite the pipes will be OK.  Mr. Oilburner and I joked a little if it weren't for the final drive on the BMW's we could put dual exhaust on our bikes.  Might even be able to get a muffler that will give a little rumble.  (In case you weren't aware, dual exhaust is a right of passage here in the South.  Even cars that would never benefit from dual exhaust, nor have any right to be dual exhaust, are outfitted with dual exhaust out here.  Like a Chevy Chevette. Yes, I used "dual exhaust" three times in one sentence.)

In any case, it soberly brings me back to the fact that we are all mortal.  We can't always choose where, when or how.  I will be sending this family good vibes and heartfelt wishes as they recover from this tragedy.  And I will keep in mind that we are entering the worst months for deer accidents and try to rein me and mine in a little if riding at night.  I will hope that all of you, friends well-met and friends well-met-to-be, will take this message and assess your surroundings.  I would like you to remain safe so that we can meet, share big hugs, good plates of food, imbibe on some beverages, tell tales and take that wonderful ride together.

Be Safe, My Friends.


  1. My condolences to the family.

    All I have to do is think about deer and the bike begins to slow. I have a couple locations on my commute where it's common to see them. I creep along through those sections, scanning until my eyeballs hurt. :)

  2. Wise words, we don't have deer over here, but we do get a bit of wondering live stock, which has on occasion caused me more than a heart flatter!

  3. We're just back from Michigan. I have never seen so many dead deer by the road. I imagine they were struck by large tractor rigs. If by car or bike the carcass would have been removed from the accident scene. Only the big trucks drive on. Yes, it is the season to be even more vigilant.

    I'm glad you went to the services. I have no doubt it was meaningful for the family to have as many riders there as possible.

    And, thanks for the good laugh you gave me--dual exhausts 3x no less.


  4. Hi Bluekat,

    Yes! You said it...I am not alone! Thank You! Thank you for being cautious! Get some good lubricant for the eyeballs for when you get to work/home and can let them relax! :)


  5. Hi Raftnn,

    Wandering livestock? Open Range? Yeah, there are some open ranges in the West of the US. Unnerving to see huge cows, bison, buffalo laying in the road. And they won't budge! Good to hear that you heed them and have remained safe!


  6. Hi Keith,

    I was trying to find a spreadsheet that I have seen that broke down number of reported accidents for vehicles by time of day and month of year. It was astounding and you could see the direct correlation between rutting season and nighttime vs daylight strikes. Alas, it was not meant to be found again.

    I did see quite a few maps and lists of the 10 worst states. And they have varied a little over the years, but Michigan and Georgia are Illinois are generally in that list somewhere. So you be careful! :)

    I am glad we went too. As this was my first time, I felt awkward and unsure of what to do. I feel better now, and wish I had done a few things different. But I have learned. Mr. Oilburner and I have discussed joining the Patriot Guard...might be a good time to do so.

    Are dual exhaust prevalent in Illinois? Every place has their quirks. This was just one of the many we enjoy about the South. :)


  7. When we lived in rural Sonoma County, CA, we installed deer whistles on the bumpers. True, they only work for when you're going faster than 30MPH, but they assume that a collision below that speed is not necessarily fatal.

    I wonder if you could put those on the bikes.

  8. Thanks for the reminder, or is that remindeer? I try not to ride at night, except in cities. I have had about 5 or 6 daytime deer encounters on my tour of the US, but thankfully no close calls. They were either far enough away to be seen or were moving away from the road by the time I passed them. I always slow down when passing them as who knows if they might turn around and go back. Slowing down in likely deer areas is the only sensible option. It was good of you to go to the service.

  9. Thanks for the reminder, or is that remindeer? I try not to ride at night, except in cities. I have had about 5 or 6 daytime deer encounters on my tour of the US, but thankfully no close calls. They were either far enough away to be seen or were moving away from the road by the time I passed them. I always slow down when passing them as who knows if they might turn around and go back. Slowing down in likely deer areas is the only sensible option. It was good of you to go to the service.

  10. Good on you for going to the services. I'm certain that just your being there gave the family comfort. I went with the Patriot Guard to a funeral last was a humbling, gratifying, and well spent time.

    As for dual exhaust, both my bikes have dual exhaust, I don't like either set of dual exhaust, and see it as a extra expense and unnecessary weight; dual exhaust, pffft! (4X, plus bad grammer!)

    Deer - one of the negatives of motorcycling. :(

  11. No deer around here but we do have moose. The population density is much lower but the resulting damage is much higher due to their size (deer x 10?).

    It's great that you both were able to go to the service.


  12. Lori:

    I can't believe what I just read about your insensitivity towards Mr Oilburner if he should have hit a deer and you just rode away into the sunset .

    I used to love dual-exhausts but they make too much noise and I don't want the extra power anyway. I would rather have a whisper quiet sewing machine type engine that made no noise. I like the sound of wind without further enhancements

    I do have duals on my Corvette, but it is quiet as a mouse

    Wet Coast Scootin

  13. Hi David!

    I'm not completely sold on deer whistles just yet. So much back and forth chatter of do they work, don't they work. I know some people that swear by them and others that say they don't do anything. Have a friend that is a truck driver that says they work in such a way that instead of the truck hitting the deer, the deer are a few seconds later and hit the truck. Which is a good thing for any trucking company.

    I know others that have them installed on their bikes and still have close encounters.

    Thanks for the reminder though. I might look back into them.


  14. Hi Gary! Remindeer!! Good one! LOL. I am happy that you have not had experience with any large land animals in your journeys. Great success ratio given the mileage you have traveled. Keep it that way and watch out for the cattle on the open ranges where you are.


  15. oh..and yes, I do hope the family was ok with our work. They were just so nice about everything.

  16. Hi Ken, Was that your first Patriot Guard experience? Mr. Oilburner has been looking into them for about a year. Most of the time they are needed on weekdays around here, which we couldn't do. But I would love to do it and show my support and respect. One of the gentlemen on Saturday is with the Patriot Guard and he says expect about 100+ bikes. Is that what you experienced?

    I am dually impressed with being able to fit dual exhaust into a sentence 4 times!! LOL

  17. Hi Richard! Moose...definitely on the list of things I do not want to encounter in the dark of night. And I think your nights can be infinitely darker then ours here with the light pollution. Are you just extra caution or don't ride at night? Any close encounters?


  18. Hi Bob!

    Insensitivity?? When he tells me I am wrong about the dangers? Bah! If he won't take my concerns and try to be a little cautious... :( And I think it would be ride off into the sunrise out here. :)

    As for the dual exhaust...I hadn't thought about it till a couple have brought it up...but I just don't think they are meant to be quiet. They sure aren't on anything out here that I have encountered. But I do agree with you. I just know from Mr. Oilburner that he didn't hear the straight pipes on his HD (before he could switch them out) because they were behind him. It was a problem for everyone else... :)

    Is the Corvette quiet as a mouse or just has a low purr?? I saw a GREAT license plate on a vet the other day. HIOFISAR. LOL.

  19. By the time the dark comes the snow and ice have as well. I don't think I've ever ridden the bike in the dark. I have seen plenty of moose along the road and it is a huge mess anytime there is a vehicle/moose encounter and it is usually major. The vehicle usually totaled no matter what it's size.

    We frequently have northern lights but they don't light up the road very well.

    BTW, my old R100RT has dual exhaust but still sounds like an old sewing machine.


  20. There's lots of stuff to watch out for on the roads, deer not the least of which. I worry about this stuff, too, but try my best to be careful and sane. Hope all of you make it through this season, and many, many more.

  21. Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

    The time has come to hunt these things to within 20% of teir existing numbers. There is one on my lawen as I trype this, and it is 1pm in broad daylight.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  22. Dear Jack,

    Atticus doesn't like deer meat? Given Conchscooters fearfulness of Atticus I would have thought he wouldn't stand for interlopers on the property. :)

    Deer have been passing through our property lately too. We have a neighbor that bow hunts. He installed his hide on the neighboring property. No luck yet.

    Ah...just put shock collars on all the deer and keep them off of highways... LOL