“I am through riding the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Chris Jacarawycz. “This is the fourth time I’ve whacked a deer on this road, and the next one may whack me.”
Chris Jacarawycz is one of the finest motorcyclists I have ever known. Whether stirring up the dirt in backwoods Pennsylvania on a raging KTM, or taking a Honda Goldwing through twisties that would daunt a much nimbler bike, Jacarawycz is a biker’s biker. He carves through curves like a Renaissance sculptor, rendering gravel-coated corners into the moto equivalent of Michelangelo’s “David.” But all his skill couldn’t stop a large whitetail deer from from diving straight into the windshield of his Yamaha Super Ténéré — at point blank range.
“The deer came out of the brush in a dark brown blur,” said Jacarawycz. “My peripheral vision had barely scored the threat when the bike shuddered under a tremendous jolt. Broken plastic and bits of glass showered over me, as I fought for control. The front end started to wobble and the machine veered to the left. There was no opposing traffic and my thought was to keep it on the blacktop, while I brought the machine to a straight stop.”
He almost made it. The bike went into a front-end skid when the front wheel hit the grass, dropping Jacarawycz in a sliding dismount on the pavement. While not life threatening, his injuries would curtail his riding for the better part of the season. The event would prove fatal to both the bike and the deer. (Jacarawycz wears a full-face helmet and total ballistic gear.)
This was his fourth deer-strike, but only the first time he dropped the bike as a result of the impact. (His last encounter with a whitetail would severely damage the fairing of a Honda Goldwing, but Jacarawycz managed to hold the machine upright, precluding injury to himself, or the pillion rider. This was the outcome of two other deer strikes as well.)
“What could you have done differently to prevent this accident,” I asked him.
“Not a damn thing,” Jacarawycz replied.”It was broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon, and the deer leaped from thick cover right at the edge of the road. It slammed into the bike a split second later. There was absolutely no opportunity to swerve nor to slam on the brakes.”
“What was your initial reaction?”
“I knew what happened instantly... My reflex was to hold the bike upright, assess the situation, and bleed off speed without slamming on the brakes. I was pretty confident that I’d get it stopped upright, but there was greater impact damage to the forks or front brakes than I anticipated and circumstances proved otherwise,” Jaracawycz said.
“What advice would you give to riders dealing with whitetail deer?”
“It’s the luck of the draw. I’ve heard that if you come across a deer in the road, you should aim for where the animal has been. This assumes that the deer is not the point-man in a column of whitetails, which is often the case. Then again, I’ve seen deer start slipping and sliding on the pavement, and turn around to go back the way they came. The animals do not always enter the road in a tentative stance, pausing to look around. Sometimes they just come barreling out,” said Jacarawycz.
And on a tight, mountain road, this can spell trouble for motorists in general, and bikers in particular.
Nothing gets people more fired up in the US than the manner in which nature is regarded, discussed, and managed. When it comes to wildlife, the average fat-faced American is a real dope, extending human attributes to creatures who coexist with each other in a hair-trigger state of nature. I got my first lesson in this subject 25-years ago, on a fishing trip with my pal, Ihor Sypko. We were camping on the shores of Round Valley, a reservoir in New Jersey, and had planned to launch a rowboat from a marshy area, adjacent to our campsite.
There was nothing compact about the aluminum rowboat, and we chatted as we carried it (by hand) down the access road to the water’s edge. It was a half-mile walk. We laughed as we sweated, making no effort to conceal our movements. About 200-yards from the water’s edge, I noticed a fawn in the undergrowth. It was a thing of beauty. All spindly legs and silvery spots on a tiny, tawny body... It was trying to stand.
“Holy shit,” I said. “I think that fawn was just born. I hope we didn’t spook the mother.”
“I didn’t hear a deer run off,” replied Ihor.
We then carried the boat to the water’s edge in stealth mode.
The fishing was fun. The average size of the fish we caught could have been mounted on a Ritz Cracker, although I did hook into something impressive— that got away. It was probably a Blue Fin tuna or a Marlin. We returned to shore 4 hours later, sun-dried, bug bitten, and hungry. We were carrying the boat back, when I remembered the fawn.
It was still there, and none too happy-looking.
“Shit,” I said to Ihor. “This little thing needs our help.”
Because we grew up in New Jersey — the land of abundant civil authority — and because we were city kids (relying on the irrefutable truth of Disney’s “Bambi” for our knowledge of deer), we decided to notify the park rangers. Since cell phones were pure science fiction in the late ’70’s, Ihor lit out for the emergency land line, about a mile and a half distant. Our plan was to call in a medivac helicopter and to get the deer airlifted to Johns Hopkins University Hospital as fast as possible.
I figured they probably had a jet at a local airport standing by for this sort of thing.
Ihor returned a bit later, with the news that a ranger was coming.
“Why didn’t you just wait by the phone and ride back in the helicopter?” I asked.
“They didn’t say anything about a helicopter,” said Ihor.
“What the fuck?” I responded, dripping furious indignation. (This was long before the internet, so I actually said, “What the fuck,” as opposed to the letters W.T.F.) “Did you tell them this involved a baby fawn, who may have been alone in the hot sun for a minimum of four hours?”
“Yes,” said Ihor.
“Did you tell them how cute it is with spindly legs and silvery spots on a tawny body?”
“Yes,” said Ihor.
“Did you tell them the little guy is thoroughly disoriented, and barely responds to his name?”
“Yes, I did,” said Ihor.
“Did you tell them his name is Jerome?”
“No,” said Ihor. “I didn’t think of that.”
“Well,” I said pointing in the direction of the phone. “Get moving. It is emotionally draining for me to stand guard over this fawn while you go sight-seeing.”
Ihor had barely set off, when we both heard the drone of motorboat, churning across the lake. It grounded with authority, and a ranger in a gray uniform, with very official hiking boots, stepped out of the boat. Have you ever noticed how some people just look like their chosen profession? I mean, is there a law that all firemen must resemble professional football players in stature, and have the confident demeanor of Navy SEALS? (By the same token, elected officials look like street walkers in the time of cholera.) This ranger, whose name was probably something like “Ted Goodperson,” combined the looks of Robert Redford with the personality of Saint Francis. I remember thinking, “I could fuck my way along the entire Appalacian Trail, without having to buy a drink for any lingerie model, if I looked like this guy.”
The ranger introduced himself, glanced at our gear and stuff, then advised us to wait quietly while he sized up the situation. He went into the tall grass and looked at the fawn carefully, without touching it. Then he looked at the grass around the fawn, examed the underbrush, and then poked around in the adjacent stand of hardwoods. This took about 15 minutes. He concluded his investigation and waved for us to join him.
“This fawn was born dyslexic,” said the ranger, “a condition that will prevent it from standing or walking properly.” To demonstrate his conclusion, he gently picked up the fawn, and set it on its legs.
It promptly fell down. He did this two or three times.
“The mother sensed there was something wrong with the fawn, so she abandoned it. They don’t waste any time with unhealthy fawns,” said the ranger.
This was not the message I wanted to hear from Saint Francis in a gray uniform... That the does of New Jersey were nothing more than wanton slatterns, who popped out fawns that got abandoned on the filmiest of pretexts.
“Why wouldn’t the mother try to nurse it to health?” I asked. “Will she come back?”
The ranger hesitated for a bit, then delivered the gruesome punch line. “The unhealthy fawn will attract predators that may prey on the doe as well. So in the interest of species preservation, the doe has abandoned the fawn. She may have three or four others in the next three or four years.”
“So you’ll take Jerome here to the state park vet?” I pressed.
It was then the ranger looked at both of us, and gave a little sigh. He knew he was dealing with two city assholes who couldn’t handle the truth. With the gentle grace of a good shepherd, the ranger put the fawn across his shoulders, carried it down to his boat, and buzzed off across the lake.
Ihor and I had steak that night... Steak seared over an open fire... Steak carved from the ass of a steer that had been whacked on the head with a sledge hammer in some slaughter house... A steer that had been born in the night, on spindly little legs, just like Jerome. And we felt pretty good... Like a couple of sports who had just saved a deer. And we drank our fortified ginger ale, listening to coyotes that we didn’t know New Jersey had, howling across the lake... Where they were probably eating Jerome.
Because this is the correct order of things, in a state of nature, where the mothers abandon their young to the coyotes, feral dogs, farm dogs, and bears... And where the remaining entrails of those abandoned young feed turkey vultures, crows, mice, twenty-kinds of beetles, and two million fly larvae. (The fly larvae will ultimately grow into big, fat, disgusting, shit-squatting insects, that slam into clear-plastic motorcycle face-shields, creating a need for replacement parts, providing the nice people at Nolan with jobs.)
Now, why did I write all this stuff about deer-strikes and motorcycles?
I was running through FaceBook last week and under the heading of a rider I like and respect was this well-intentioned advice about how you can tell the difference between orphaned fawns and those that are just parked for a bit. The truth is, there is no difference. Leave them all alone. Either the doe will come back, or Mr. Coyote will. Nature takes care of its own. In many states, it is illegal to feed wildlife as this conditions them to humans and ultimately makes them better targets for those with shotguns or rifles, or for cars and motorcycles.
I wanted to ask the nice lady who was feeding two “orphaned” fawns, "what she would do if she found a couple of orphaned tarantulas, or other huge, fucking killer spiders with hides?" Would she return with a baby bottle and nurse them to health? Tarantulas need love too. (I had a mother-in-law who was a giant tarantula.)
Suppose the great Disney movie “Bambi” wasn’t about a deer?
What if the hero of that movie had been a huge, killer spider, whose name was “BiBi;” who got lost in a winter storm and who found a kindly old blind person (a guy named “Dallas”), in a remote cabin; who then invited the spider in from the cold (thinking she was an odd breed of talking dog). And suppose BiBi discovered the cabin was infested by Norway rats (British accents), that shit all over the blind person as he slept (like Congress does to the nation), so she laid 22,000 eggs under the kitchen table. Each egg hatched in the pleasant environment of the cabin, and all the rats disappeared over the course of a week. Suppose the movie ended with the kindly old person falling asleep each night under the warm protection of a living blanket of 22,000 tarantulas?
The title of the movie could be “BiBi Lays For Dallas.”
This movie would be as factual as “Bambi.” And it would be perfect if the studio could get Noomi Rapace (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) to be the voice of the spider.
Suppose that movie had been made and shown in the 1950‘s... Would we all be feeding orphaned tarantulas? Would we be pulling over on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and pointing in delight as resident tarantulas ate rare hummingbirds trapped in their webs? Some dopes would.
There are more deer alive and running around in the United States today than when Columbus discovered America. It makes more sense to feed cockroaches. Leave the deer alone. The fawn you’re feeding may injure or kill someone you know on a motorcycle. Wouldn’t that be swell?
As long as we’re supposing things, suppose cash-strapped states sold “orphaned” deer-feeding permits for $50, allowing well-intentioned, but dreadfully uninformed, people to feed abandoned fawns, provided the animals were ear-tagged, and that the permit-holders were liable for any motor vehicle or crop damage. Who would legally feed the deer then?
Now, do I expect anything I wrote in this blog episode to change the feeble mind of anyone who is feeding “orphaned” deer? Nope. But I do expect to get 10,000 emails from jerks claiming its time to ban motorcycles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, as they disturb the sugar-fueled deer.
Philly Area Rider Wins Triumph T100, Compliments of Castrol....
Religiously changing his vehicle’s motor oil every 3,000 miles paid off big time for Fred Diehl, the winner of Castrol’s Triumph Sweepstatkes. Diehl accepted the keys to an iconic red and white, Triumph Bonneville T100, at a Pep Boys location in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, June 24, 2012.
|Fred Diehl on his new Triumph Bonneville T100 -- Compliments of Castrol
“I have always used Castrol lubricants, in both my car and my motorcycle,” said Diehl. “I was buying oil in the shop and was intrigued by the promotion. So I went back to the office and entered the contest online. Winning this Bonneville T100 is the result of that effort.”
A Harley rider for more than 3 decades, Diehl had an instant appreciation for the T100’s retro appeal. “I have been without a bike for a while and look forward to the Triumph experience,” he said. Diehl primarily rides on the weekends, but the Triumph, with it’s classic panniers has given him an idea for a longer run.
“My dream ride would be a run with no time-frames, no destination and no purpose, other than to enjoy the scenery and to relax without thinking of everyday problems. I want a short two-wheeled escape from reality,” said Diehl. This bike may make that dream come true.
When asked if he read Twisted Roads, Diehl replied, “I have never read the blog but I have heard of Jack Riepe and some of the strange stories he tells. No one can be that peculiar.”
I hope Mr. Diehl reads this whole blog and sends me a comment.
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