Friday, February 24, 2012

The Doe

She raced into the right side of my peripheral vision, entering the plume of light cast by the headlight on a dark road, body churning, straining alongside the scooter. Breathing halted with a fierce intake of air, the animal moved closer as I realized my right hand had already begun throttling back, slowing the Vespa on the wet road.

It was a long day at work, one of those days when the mind leaps from one task to another, switching gears, changing realities so often that you just end feeling numb, stupid, living in a mental fog over which there seems no control. The desire to get on the scooter at 9pm was strong.

Rain fell in big, lazy drops, streaking the blackness ahead with white streaks in the beam of light. New heated gloves felt hot, a stark contrast from the cold wet air rushing under my helmet. Gingerly applying pressure to the rear brake,  the doe lunged left in front of me, her eyes wide as she fought to gain speed. For just an instant everything seemed like it moved in a slow motion performance.

I’ve been here before, riding at night in the rain ready to meet the deer of which the bright yellow signs give warning. A hundred times I’ve convinced myself that I’d be ready to manage the moment.

The Vespa slowed without sliding, the machine straight, tires rolling as the rear hooves lingered in the air then disappeared into the blackness. Breath quickly fogged the inside of the visor as I considered chance, luck, and fortune against experience and skill. A mile down the road I believed in magic and the sudden appearances of ghosts and other visitors, the knowledge quickening my excitement to be riding. Riding on my mind was clear, sharp and a strange feeling of satisfaction remained, as if I was tested and passed. Or perhaps it was nothing more than understanding that there is no test – just life.


bobskoot said...


I'm glad we don't have Doe here. In our area we only have Racoons or Wolves.. Racoons can be nasty as they freeze when they see headlights, but they usually disappear when they hear engine noises. In the interior of our Province they have cattle guards and often you would find Cows lying in the middle of the road.

Your rides are more exciting than ours. Glad you were quick on your maneuvering

Riding the Wet Coast

Gordon said...

Holy cow---I mean, Oh deer.
So glad your riding experience kept you alive!

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: Running into a wolf wouldn't be so good. Laying on the ground afterwards the rest of the pack might devour you.

We keep our cows fenced here. It's rare to see them wandering on the road. Deer are the worry.

My reactions were instinctive with no thought at all. Afterwards it was kind of amazing that I didn't grab a bunch of brake and dump the scooter. Maybe the mental practice paid off.

I still prefer to chalk it up to dumb luck though...

Steve Williams said...

Gordon: Makes you wonder how often some critter is running nearby in the dark. I was only traveling about 35mph when I first saw it. All happened in a matter of seconds. Had the deer turned a moment sooner, well, I would have been able to jump on it's back, wrestle it to the ground, and give it a good talking to about running on the road.

Bryce said...

Deer me, the doe lost, but you're the winner!
Maybe the real winner is nobody was physically harmed in this encounter with Bambi.
It could have been much worse, you survived, your heart pounding and your sensations heightened and yet, you survived. So did Bambi.

That is all the matters. Maybe put some driving lamps on the Vespa and a big whopping battery in that top box?

Dar said...

Steve - I had an encounter with a white tail deer while I was on my bike. I was out on a country road riding twisties, good thing I wasn't going fast, the deer lunged out onto the road and I had slowed because I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. This particular section of road is all low speed limit, which was fortunate.

Charlie6 said...

Glad that doe and you didn't "connect" Steve!

Wonderfully written report of the event though....


Poppawheelie said...

Yeah, I've seen them, those deer, hiding behind trees and in ditches, standing around smoking cigarettes, talking, and waiting for a car or motorcycle to come along. I think they're taking bets on who can make it across at the last second.

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: It was a fortunate encounter. I read about those less so all the time. We watch for deer in the car and I on the scooter almost every time on the road from dusk to dawn.

The light on the Vespa is surprisingly bright. More so than many motorcycles I've ridden. No need for extra power there. The topcase will remain a place for cameras and notebooks and other fun things.

Steve Williams said...

Dar: Pays to pay attention!

Steve Williams said...

Charlie6 (dom): My "event" was nothing compared to the sunny day encounter you just had. Geez. What are drivers thinking?!

Read about Charlie6's nasty encounter HERE.

Steve Williams said...

poppawheelie: You make it sound as if we're living in a Far Side cartoon world. That can't be true can it?

David Masse said...

So glad to hear that worked out well, Steve.

Recently an MVer got taken right off his GTS when the deer made contact with the rider rather than the bike.

The rider was wearing all his gear and got off bruised and sore, but the Vespa seemed totaled.

Montreal is deer-free since it's an island. Just dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, bunnies and squirrels. Lord knows that's bad enough. I don't think I'd feel safe out after dark if we had to contend with deer.

Ride safely Steve.

Steve Williams said...

David Masse: I was fortunate.

I read about the MVer and the scooter looked awful in the pictures. Since it was a silver GTS I could easily picture myself in that situation.

Even those little critters you find in Montreal can create some problems for scooters like ours with little wheels. So you be careful too!

Robert Wilson said...

I too, have had a close encounter with a doe and felt my heart beat 1001 times faster than it did. In my case I had to swerve to go around it and watched it's face stare at me with big dark blank eyes just inches from my helmet.

Since then I am always a hell of a lot more alert in that section of road.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

Well...Well... Well... You walked from this one, and I am delighted. Actually, you got off better than Dom did this week.

Of course, none of us actually saw the deer and only have your word to go on... But this blog episode was very well written and had my mouth watering for venison.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Steve Williams said...

Robert Wilson: It all happens so fast. Makes you realize how powerless you are in those moments.

Steve Williams said...

Mr. Riepe: Dom definitely had a much more concrete experience than mine. Near misses are just thought provoking.

I hope I never get to show anyone the deer. I would be content to complete my riding career without ever photographing the animal, scooter, or myself after a physical interaction.

Luck go with you!

Will said...

Steve, I'm so glad you're OK! I don't know what I'd do without your wonderful blog. Keep the rubber side down and the painty side up! Will

gifts for men said...

Scooter is the best vehicle.So many different parts are available in the scooters.It is very comfortable for the drive.

scooters said...

So many different brands are famous for the scooters.It is the best for the driving.Scooters engines and other parts are so strong.

roland said...


ToadMama said...

Very well said!

Tim Carr said...

I love your writing style. It really stands out from the majority of blogs -- sounds a bit spoken-word style, or maybe I'm thinking of "Black Sunshine" by White Zombie. You have a new reader, for sure.

Glad you passed your test...or, at any rate, lived (sounds a bit dramatic phrased like that!).

Steve Williams said...

Will: I'm still riding!

Roland: It was more of a "gee.." experience.

ToadMama: Thank you.

Steve Williams said...

Tim Carr: White Zombie's Black Sunshine might be a little more dramatic than the actual event. There was no driving base line in my head while it was happening.

My experience was probably more Enya than White Zombie!

Thanks for commenting. Made my day to think about Black Sunshine again.