As a motorcyclist, I’m always on the watch for critters on the road. Around here, deer pose the greatest threat to those on two wheels. More than a dozen riders have collided with deer in Southwestern Virginia so far this year. Two died. Five others suffered serious injuries.

Deer, however, aren’t the only dangers lurking in the shadows.

Night riding is especially hazardous. My Harley Super Glide has extra-bright driving lamps on the front to help illuminate sides of the road when I’m riding after dark and they were on Tuesday night as I headed home on U.S. 221 north of Floyd.

I had just passed the entrance to Great Oaks Country Club when my eyes picked up what at first seemed like a shadow on the road ahead. The shadow wasn’t a deer but a large black bear lumbering across the highway. I swerved to the left, into the oncoming lane, missing the the animal by less than foot as it crossed from left to right on the highway. The aptly named crash bar on the right side of the bike came within inches of collecting the bear’s hind quarter.

I slowed from 55 to about 35 as the realization set in on just how close I had come to disaster. I hit a deer with another bike two years ago at the bottom on Bent Mountain. The deer went down. Luckily, I did not. Had I hit that mass of black bear on the road Tuesday night, I would not have been so lucky.

At home, I pulled into the garage, shut down the engine, and just sat on the bike, waiting for my breathing to return to normal.  Amy, who had followed me home in her Liberty but had stopped for gas, pulled up and found me still sitting.

“What happened?”

“Bear.”

“Where?”

“On 221, near the country club.”

“How close?

“Too close.”

Enhanced by Zemanta