Sunday, 8:30 a.m. I leaned my motorcycle into the lower set of twisties on U.S. 221 on Bent Mountain, headed for breakfast with friends at the iHOP near Franklin Road in Roanoke County.
When riding, I always scan the the road ahead for cars, dogs and deer that can emerge from side roads, yards and bushes. Collisions with deer have killed too many motorcyclists in our area, including Floyd County’s Robert Pauley, who died a year ago this month when his bike struck a deer near Riner. I laid my bike down last month to avoid a deer at the entrance to Great Oaks Country Club north of Floyd.
As I straightened the bike out for the final sweeping turn at the bottom of the mountain, a young doe lunged from the bushes at my left, sprinting at full gait across the road directly in front of me. leaving no time to react, brake, swerve or dodge.
I gripped the handle bars tightly as the bike’s front wheel struck the hind quarter of the doe. The blow sent a shudder through the bike as the doe yelped and fell to the pavement. Somehow, my bike, staggered from the impact, remained upright as I struggled to control the wobble from the collision. I regained control, slowed to a stop, and looked back to see the doe writhing on the pavement. Then it jumped up and hobbled off on three legs while a broken right rear leg dangled from her torso.
With no place to pull off, I nursed the bike around the curve to a flat area of the road and parked on the shoulder to inspect what I was sure would be damage to the bike. To my surprise, nothing appeared bent. The wheel, front fender, fork, lights and windsheld were intact.
I waited a few minutes for my heart rate to return to somewhere near normal, restarted the bike and rode on into Roanoke at a sedate pace, feeling out the bike for any wobble, vibration or rattle. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.
At iHOP, we checked the bike more closely and found deer hair embedded in the treads of the front tire. The Sportster has a quarter fender that doesn’t extend beyond the top of the wheel so the tire took the brunt of the hit.
Over breakfast, my friends joked about my ability to attract deer. One recommended a powered deer whistle called the Hornet.
I debated whether or not to participate in the day’s planned ride to Smith Mountain Dam, Gretna, Danville and Martinsville but the group encouraged me to come along, promising to keep an eye on the bike for any problems. We left iHOP and headed south on U.S. 220 to Virignia 40 for the ride over to the dam. No problems. I rode on before splitting off at Martinsville to head home via Stuart and U.S. 58 up to Lover’s Leap and the Parkway. Arrived home at 5:30 p.m. without any further encounters with Bambi.
The day took a lot out of me. With the adreladine gone, I sat down on the couch in the living room and fell asleep.