Now to the biologicals that can kill us.
Deer is our most prevalent enemy.
According to one statistic, there are over one million vehicular deer incidents and around 25,000 deer are killed by vehicular accidents each year. Another stat states that the state where you're most likely to hit a deer is West Virginia.
Over 10,000 Americans are injuries in vehicle accidents involving deer each year and the injury rate with a deer versus motorcycle strike is a high 70% with over 90 percent of vehicle-deer crashes occurring on two-lane roads, between dusk and dawn.
Deer suck. We have been riding in deer-infested areas for decades and the only thing that has helped is The Hornet from Xp3 - a passive electronic deer Avoidance System.
Yes, they are one of our advertisers yet we have found the sharp and irritating pitch the Hornet throws at the road in front on the bike to work remarkably well.
Bambi and friends have never answered any of our surveys, so think of it as an electric “Rabbit’s Foot,” and, for the $80 investment, better to have one on your machine than not.
Remember we don’t hit deer, deer hit us.
Up north moose is a huge issue – in both size and scope. Moose kill more humans than any other mammal in North America.
Although in some regions of the United States brown bears are more dangerous simply because of their aggressive behavior – the moose population is far greater than any bear population.
Treat moose like a deer on crack or meth as they, unlike deer that usually and happily run away, will happily stomp you into oblivion when enraged. Remarkably, moose seem to not like The Hornet either and we have had moose raise their massive noggins and move off the road and back into the forest while riding in Maine and Newfoundland.
Black bears have run in front of us dozens of times, and getting hit by one is going to be a very bad thing. There have been many motorcycle rider fatalities due to bear strikes over the years.
Years back a friend, a professional road racer, was struck hard by a seagull that came out of the blue. He suffered a concussion, and as an experienced racer knew this and wisely parked himself for a few days in the next town he came upon.
In this region Turkey Vultures are often found dining on the aforementioned deer strikes. Startled they can easily fly up and into passing motorcycles. So, if you see a wake of vultures best to slide away from them and be vigilant.
Most birds will fly out of the way, but not always. Depending on the bird's size you will either punt them away or they can cause you to lose control and create a "gravity storm!"
The key here is to try not to panic.
If a bird strike is imminent throttle up and go for the punt rather than the crash. Like deer, birds usually hit us, not the other way around.
Try to avoid condors – they are very big.
Some of the other critters to consider run the small mammal gamut – woodchuck, porcupine, squirrels, opossum, and racoons all seem to cross the road at the wrong times.
Up here in northern New Jersey, we have a lot of otter hits and I remember one Americade riding on a small backroad off of Route 28 and having a large fisher cross our path. Part of the Weasel family – they have been showing up more and more in the northeast in the last few decades. These are really big, but there are plenty of other smaller weasels that can pop out in the more rural areas.
I have mentioned bobcats, but there have been reports of small pumas and coyotes and hybrid coydogs seem to be more and more plentiful these days.
Now let’s talk the small stuff.
A wasp, bee, or hornet getting in your jacket or helmet can cause all sorts of mayhem. A mean-looking spider or the like crossing on the inside of your face shield might cause the same reaction.
Being a ‘Hornet Stung Veteran’ I can tell you to accept you have been stung. Yes, it hurts like hell, but be brave, alright kiddo?
Compartmentalize the pain. DO NOT let it take control as you will probably lose control … of your bike and matters will just get exponentially worse from there.
There are animals out there – humans for the most part, but that is what this column has always been about. Stay vigilant, never panic and work on your riding skills.
It’s a jungle out there.