Doh! A Deer!

My dear friend Kelly at kellysera.com tells the tale of my dear hit incident. In her own words here is the time a hit a deer on my Yamaha R1...

Waiting for Geoff at McDonald’s, I met a Yamaha rider named Tim. Striking up biker talk, we discovered we were both waiting for the same guy (apparently Geoff had met Tim in a bookstore, initiating conversation with ‘is that your rice burner out there?’). Geoff arrived shortly after we began talking, and immediately after, a very loud Harley pulled up. Geoff’s friend Rich hopped off and introduced himself all around. The four of us headed up the street to join three more bikes; Erik, Mark and Tim. For a while, we stood around admiring our impressive entourage of newly cleaned machines. The chat revolved around something that bored me; video games or computers… I made a note not to take note.

We decided to head out about an hour to dusk, and as we pulled into formation, I found myself near the back, but never at the end (being the newby, it was important that I was watched). At the end of the street, Erik the leader honked the horn of his GSXR with a happy “beep beep!”, which was followed, in turn, by each of our quiet beeps. After we had finished the impromptu ceremonial beeping, there was a quick pause before Rich sounded the horn from his Harley. Our honks were put to shame by a sound similar to that of a departing ferryboat. We sped out onto the highway, in our typical staggered formation. It was a back road that carved between fields and rural houses. As the sunset lit up the sky with oranges and brilliant reds, we passed a man on a riding lawn mower, and the summer smell of freshly cut grass filled my helmet. We looped around turns and corners with ease, and I imagined we were quite a spectacle; seven motorcycles on a small country road.

After we stopped at Scott’s Dairy Freeze for burgers, and across the street for some gas, we made our way toward Snoqualmie, taking full advantage of a warm Seattle evening. The back turns were fast, and I did my best to keep up with the boys. The two bikes behind me, Tim and Tim, followed closely, taking the turns like pro’s. But secure in their insistence that I shouldn’t feel rushed, I took my time, leaning further than I ever had before, accelerating through turns and loving every second of it.

When we pulled onto the main highway and found some straight run, Geoff fell back in line to ride next to me. Through various confusing hand gestures and charades, Geoff attempted to teach me to pull my bike up on my back tire. He dropped a few gears and let his clutch out, feathering the throttle through a perfect wheelie. I dropped a few gears and cranked on the throttle and just jolted and stalled and shook my head at Geoff. I thought to myself that he was probably the best rider that I knew.

When we got on another back road, the curves were too much for Geoff to stick back and be patient with me, so he zoomed ahead, leaving me with the Tim’s. I didn’t know the roads at all, and in the darkness I let a significant gap develop between rider #4 and myself. Every once in a while, I would catch a glimpse of the taillight from the gang ahead, but carefully made my way at my own pace.

Around one turn, I noticed a significant amount of red light and immediately pulled on my brakes, quickly slowing down. As I pulled up, I saw all four bikes stopped, and noticed one bike without an occupant. Rich’s Harley flashed its 4-ways. I tried to find the body, or the wrecked car or something that would paint a picture of what was going on. Geoff was on foot, and ran past my bike, heading behind me. He was pulling his helmet off and screaming, “Where is it?!?! Where the hell is it?!?!” He ran toward the ditch on the side of the road as I neared the other three who were stopped.

“He hit a deer!” Erik shouted, and I pulled up the road and turned around, helping to illuminate the road where Geoff searched. Finding nothing, Geoff stormed back to his bike. As I approached him, I expected a look of rage, but instead found panic. He looked as if he might cry. I hopped off my bike and walked over to his R1, shaking my head and trying to convince him it would be alright. Surprisingly, his bike had remained upright after striking a full sized doe head-on. The front fairings, dressed in that glorious Yamaha red, were cracked around one of the shattered headlamps. I shook my head at the spectacle. He certainly was the best rider I knew. Had it been MY encounter with nature, provided I ever got my injured bum out of the ditch, my screaming for the deer would not have been inspired by compassion.

We headed into town a bit shaken, ending the evening with a trip to the pub and continuous reiteration of the story, each of us with our own version of the collision. It was an eventful night, topped with a tale for tomorrow, and my mysterious self-filling glass of beer, which I swear I finished several times. Nothing but excitement with the boys…