Tales of a Rider: Watch out for them groundhogs

Groundhogs can take you down

July 3rd, 2015 was my first motorcycle accident. I was traveling alone in the back roads just south of a main town hunting geocaching locations. I had my helmet and jacket and the ride was beautiful.

A short ways ahead, I saw a groundhog peak out from the side of the road from my right and watched as he darted across to the left side. I started to slow down to see what he would do. The groundhog kept pacing back and forth on the left, so I figured he would stay over there until I passed. Just as I was about to pass the critter, he darted back over to the right hand side. Everything seemed to happen quickly and I was unsure of what to do as I only had about 2000 miles under my belt and this was a first time experience coming against nature. Well, thinking about what i learned in the beginner motorcycle training course I thought the best thing to do would be to throttle up and try to run over the critter square on. Turns out that was not the best idea, because as the front wheel came in contact with the huge round hump of the groundhog it caused the wheel to tip to the left and the gyroscopic effect turned the whole bike on its side. I slide down the road a little ways, kicked the bike away from me and watched as the road slid past the left side of my helmet.

Thankfully, no real damage to myself except for a heat abrasion on my left arm caused by the jacket heating up as I slid down the road and the inner arm sleeve cut into my elbow causing a gash that needed to be stitched up. There was some bruising on my hip and i must have caught my right hand knuckle briefly on some road and got a minor gash that was glued up at the hospital. I also somehow stubbed my left toe in the boot, so the nurse had to puncture the toenail to release the blood pressure.

The lessons learned:

Don’t ride alone, ride with a buddy. I was not sure where I was and could not easily grab my phone from my jacket because I was trying to hold the wounds from bleeding everywhere. Thankfully, a car was not far behind me who happened to be an off duty fireman from the nearby town and called in for the squad.

Always wear a helmet, jacket, gloves and any other gear. You never know when nature can dart out from the road and change your plans for the day. At least the safety gear will quicken the healing time.

Never trust nature’s creatures to act in a way that will be safe to you. If you come up on groundhogs and large rodents, it might be safer to not cross their path until you know they have gone into the field, and be sure to honk at them to hopefully scare them off.

Always ride with the goal of maneuvering the bike in the path you want to go to avoid the obstacle. Never stare at the obstacle as you will evidently hit it, but rather stare into the open safe zone where you want to go to avoid.

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