Monday, September 19, 2005

WHITETAIL DEER: by Russ

I’m getting ready for the “big journey” – my trip on a motorcycle from Central Iowa to West Point, New York, and my life right now is a flurry of work, packing and preventative maintenance. I’ve topped off all the fluids on my bike, oiled & adjusted the chain and done the logistics of which bag gets tied where. Since early July, I’ve put 2500 miles on my bike (mostly work-related, trying to take advantage of it’s superior mileage) and I think I’ve got my rear callused up enough to make the trip. Right now, I only have one thing worrying me regarding the trip: deer.

Deer are the mortal enemy of motorcyclists (well, maybe they’re not as bad as “soccer moms in white Dodge Caravans”, but they’re pretty bad). Iowa has many roads which would be GREAT for high speed runs on a bike, but when you factor in slow-moving farm equipment, deer and patches of loose gravel on the road, riding 90 mph with your hair on fire is a losing game in Iowa. I’ve had several close calls with those “fur bearing IED’s” since July, and it’s only going to get worse. October is the rut here in the Midwest, and that’s nothing but bad news where deer are concerned. What is the rut? It’s the time of year when the does are “in season”, and the bucks go batshit trying to get laid. Picture a strip club at 1 am and you’ll get a good idea of what lonely two lane blacktops deep in flyover country are like this time of year. I’ve never hit a deer square-on with a car or bike, but I was snoozing in the passenger seat when my wife dinged one back in 2000. She only grazed the beast, but the “thump” and her “OH SHIT!” did wake me up. One time in the mid-90’s, I was doing a “soild” for a buddy who couldn’t drive home from the bar. I took him from Winterset to Earlham (about 15 miles NW) at 2am, and we topped a hill on a two-lane doing 80 only to find a whole freakin’ herd of deer hanging out on the highway. My old heap of a Buick did a great job of slaloming around the deer on the highway, and the only thing that kept me from believing the whole thing wasn’t a drunken dream was the small patch of brown hair caught in the driver’s side fender trim, and the fact that I had to re-adjust both door mirrors due to their getting “bumped” by stationary deer.

Around home, the deer aren’t as much of a problem, because they tend to follow patterns. I have an idea which river bottoms the deer are more likely to be running, and I can slow down ahead of time to allow them, but what am I going to do when I’m rocketing down a two-lane blacktop in New Jersey, or in Ohio? My motto for riding is “TWO WHEELS GOOD, FOUR WHEELS BAD”, and I’m used to using paranoia to keep myself alive when riding in traffic, but I don’t know if I can keep that edge sharp for five days. My wife wants me to avoid riding at night whenever I can, but if I do that, the trip becomes a 7 day journey instead of 5, and I can’t take that much time away from work. Besides, she’s always nervous about these things, and I don’t mind her worry. Maybe it’ll keep me focused.

by Russ from Winterset, House Contributor

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