When I first started riding, one of the sage pieces of advice that I received regarding dealing with animals out on the road was: “if you you can eat it in one sitting, you can ride over it.” Sure appetites may vary, but there’s probably some truth to that.
Tip: Dealing with Chasing Dogs
Don’t kick or swerve towards the dog. Vary your speed by slowing down and speeding up until you can put it safely behind you. This technique keeps the dog unable to estimate where you will be in relation to them.
I’m happy to report that has worked for me when I needed it.
Avoiding Bambi – Deer
Being a NY Metro girl, the biggest animals I usually have to deal with are deer. Such a sweet looking animal can strike terror in your heart when you see them up close and personal on the roadways.
If you see deer signs posted, here’s an idea… heed their warning! Slow down and scan the shoulder as you ride. Deer often move in groups so if you see one, expect to see another.
Be extra mindful during the early morning and at dusk, this is when deer are often active. One good thing to note is that a deer’s eyes will often reflect light to give them away when they aren’t in plain sight. The Blue Ridge Parkway Journeys blog has some good tips for avoiding deer collisions.
Brake for Moose
Moose are huge. If you see moose crossing signs, slow down and keep your eyes open. They won’t necessarily be frightened by the sound of your bike so be prepared to stop. The Heart of New England offers some advice on how to prepare yourself to ride in moose country.
In 2003, I took my first ride to Maine. I can still remember sitting at lunch saying “I hope we get to see a moose.” I wish I knew then that it would put a check mark in the foreshadowing column of my scorecard.
As the dark settled in, Mother Nature unleashed a storm on us as we worked our way across the unlit Kancamagus Highway. I sat tucked behind the anemic headlights of my Ducati 996 following Kenny. With no streetlights helping us along, we rode through the dark rainy night. Suddenly a hulking, dark shape stepped towards the roadway. As Kenny applied his brakes, my wet visor went red with the reflection of his taillight and I saw nothing for a moment. My only thought as I began to brake was ”Oh God, please let it keep moving.’
Luckily, the moose did just that and continued it’s walk across the road. I saw my first moose but it was nothing like I’d planned.
Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!
On a trip through Yellowstone in 2005, Kenny and I used a minivan as cover to get around three ornery looking buffalo that were in the roadway. We did our best to improvise by putting the van between us and them.
Though buffalo appear to be docile and minding their own business doing buffalo things, it’s important to remember they are wild animals; 2,000 pound, unpredictable wild animals. It’s best to keep your distance.
In Sequoia National Park, I nearly peed in my pants after almost hitting a bear. I was entirely unprepared to even see a bear let alone be what felt like a few inches away from one on the bike. That also cured me of “wanting to see a bear.”
And then there was this other time I was riding with Kenny and he swears he saw a Jackalope… but that’s a story for another day.
Let’s hear from you:
- Do devices like deer whistles work?
- What’s the most biggest and/or most interesting animal you’ve encountered on the road?
- Do you have any safety tips to share?
- What’s the weirdest animal crossing sign you’ve ever seen? Turtles, Grizzly Bear, etc.