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.