Back in December of 2008 an unseasonably warm morning prompted me to take the bike to work despite the fact that it was opening day of Pennsylvania deer season. The result was a short 2 mile ride ending in my being broadsided by a rather large doe at around 45mph. The result was a broken collarbone and a nearly destroyed bike.
As I rounded a bend a few miles from home I saw stopped traffic facing me in the other lane and a large deer standing in my lane. A split second later my bike was gone and I was airborne. There was no fear, no real panic, I had no time to think. I heard a moment of silence and then a crush of plastic on pavement which was the sound of my protective gear and helmet impacting the ground. The deer hit me from the left side just in front of my legs, at about the center of my gas tank. The front of the bike exploded. I landed on my face and shoulder, did a few somersaults and came to rest at the side of the road. The bike landed some 20 feet behind me in the mud.
I learned a couple things from the incident. The first 8 miles or so of my commute is comprised of a 2 lane country road with almost no shoulder and trees lining both sides. Obviously this makes it imperative that you not swerve and leave the road in an emergency situation. I’d practiced panic stops for years where I’d get up to 40 miles per hour or so and try to stop quickly yet without swerving or sliding. Braking is of the utmost importance too. I’m often surprised at how misunderstood the importance of the front brake is for stopping a motorcycle, after all the front brake accounts for 70% of the stopping power. Too many riders avoid the front brakes for fear that over application will cause them to be thrown forward over the bars. The fastest way to stop a bike is by applying both brakes together with steady pressure.
I also learned that you can walk away from a crash if you have adequate gear. Had I not been wearing a helmet I’m fairly certain I would have died that day, my jacket, pants and gloves almost certainly saved me from permanent scarring and more broken bones. If you gear up and practice, stay disciplined and keep aware you can walk away and ride another day.