Natural hazards

| 6/16/2009 1:53:27 PM

Alison Green 

If you have been piloting a motorcycle for more than a few years, I’m certain that you are only too well acquainted with the potential for grief from natural hazards. I’m not talking about weather and road conditions, but about running afoul of things large and hairy. There are moose, deer, bear, dogs, raccoons and a host of other fur coated wanderers just waiting to sabotage your ride. Occasionally there is something even more bizarre!

First the big ones -- moose and deer. Same family, but different habits. For those who live in deer country, the sight of a pair of ears poking up from the ditch brings an instant adrenalin rush. To put it mildly, deer are unpredictable. Their ability to leap is prodigious, and their ability to think (at least regarding traffic) is severely limited. The best approach; slow down and cover the brakes. Better yet, if possible, avoid riding in deer country at dusk and dawn when deer are most active.  Deer are almost never aggressive, just confused and flighty and impossible to out-guess. Slow down.

Moose on the other hand are generally less flighty, but they can be cranky and are big enough to make anyone pay attention. They are also most active at dusk and dawn, especially in the early spring, although sightings are possible any time of year. Their dark, rough coats do not reflect any light at night, and their eyes seldom shine in the glare of headlights: when they do reflect, moose eyes show red. Hard riding at night in moose country can be a recipe for disaster. Occasionally they seem to enjoy standing on the pavement and contemplating life. It is unwise to ride close up behind such an animal and lean on the horn -- it may indeed shuffle off into the bush, but it also may decide to challenge you and your defenseless little bike! This is not good. Be polite. Moose are big.

Elk and wild sheep also have a habit of standing about on the road, but collisions are less likely with these, partially because their presence is expected, even anticipated, in specific areas. Domestic cattle are just plain stupid on the road, and they are formidably large and potentially lethal. Slow down immediately.  Horses can be more prone to panic, but are fortunately seldom at large.

As for other furry things that wander across the road, all are to be avoided if possible.

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