Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Special

I'm working to finish the last post in the series of gaining new skills. This will be the very important Step 4. In the meantime I came across this. I had posted it with permission in 2006. Some of you have seen this before but I'm sure you'll laugh again. If you haven't seen it, prepare to enjoy. For some reason it just seems fitting for Friday the 13th! This, by the way, is not of my originality.

Written by Daniel Meyer, author of a book called "Life is a Road, the Soul is a Motorcycle".

DISCLAIMER: If you're drinking something, put it down for the duration.

You've been warned. All punctuation errors, format, etc. are as I found 'em.



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I never dreamed slowly cruising through a residential neighbourhood could be so incredibly dangerous!

Studies have shown that motorcycling requires more

decisions per second, and more sheer data processing

than nearly any other common activity or sport. The

reactions and accurate decision making abilities

needed have been likened to the reactions of fighter

pilots! The consequences of bad decisions or poor

situational awareness are pretty much the same for

both groups too.


Occasionally, as a rider I have caught myself starting

to make bad or late decisions while riding. In flight

training, my instructors called this being "behind the

power curve". It is a mark of experience that when

this begins to happen, the rider recognizes the

situation, and more importantly, does something about

it. A short break, a meal, or even a gas stop can set

things right again as it gives the brain a chance to

catch up.


Good, accurate, and timely decisions are essential

when riding a motorcycle, at least if you want to

remain among the living. In short, the brain needs to

keep up with the machine.


I had been banging around the roads of east Texas and

as I headed back into Dallas, found myself in very

heavy, high-speed traffic on the freeways. Normally,

this is not a problem, I commute in these conditions

daily, but suddenly I was nearly run down by a cage

that decided it needed my lane more than I did. This

is not normally a big deal either, as it happens

around here often, but usually I can accurately

predict which drivers are not paying attention and

avoid them before we are even close. This one I missed

seeing until it was nearly too late, and as I took

evasive action I nearly broadsided another car that I

was not even aware was there!


Two bad decisions and insufficient situational

awareness, all within seconds. I was behind the power

curve. Time to get off the freeway.

I hit the next exit, and as I was in an area I knew

pretty well, headed through a few big residential neighbourhoods as a new route

home. As I turned onto the nearly empty streets I opened the visor on my full-face

helmet to help get some air. I figured some slow riding through the quiet surface

streets would give me time to relax, think, and regain that "edge" so frequently

required when riding.


Little did I suspect.


As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile

shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop

immediately in front of me. It was a squirrel, and

must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car. I really

was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it-it was that

close.


I hate to run over animals.and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel

should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact.


Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels can take care of themselves!


Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his

feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing the

oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little

beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible

second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the

scream was squirrel for, "Banzai!" or maybe, "Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!"

as the leap was spectacular and he flew over the windshield and impacted me squarely

in the chest.


Instantly he set upon me. If I did not know better I

would have sworn he brought twenty of his little

buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and

tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity. As

I was dressed only in a light t-shirt, summer riding

gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for

concern. This furry little tornado was doing some damage!

Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome

cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather

gloves puttering maybe 25mph down a quiet residential street.and in the fight of his

life with a squirrel. And losing.


I grabbed for him with my left hand and managed to

snag his tail. With all my strength I flung the evil

rodent off the left of the bike, almost running into

the right curb as I recoiled from the throw.

That should have done it. The matter should have ended

right there. It really should have. The squirrel could

have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and

gone on about his business, and I could have headed

home. No one would have been the wiser.


But this was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even

an ordinary pissed-off squirrel.

This was an evil attack squirrel of death!


Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his

little hands, and with the force of the throw swung

around and with a resounding thump and an amazing

impact he landed square on my back and resumed his

rather anti-social and extremely distracting

activities. He also managed to take my left glove with him!

The situation was not improved. Not improved at all.


His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him.


I was startled to say the least. The combination of

the force of the throw, only having one hand (the

throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy

twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle

of a Valkyrie can only have one result. Torque. This is what the Valkyrie is made

for, and she is very, very good at it.


The engine roared as the front wheel left the

pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The Valkyrie

screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in, well, I just plain screamed.

Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome

cruiser, dressed in jeans, a slightly squirrel torn

t-shirt, and only one leather glove roaring at maybe

70mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet

residential street.on one wheel and with a demonic

squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are

both screaming bloody murder.


With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my

other hand back on the handlebars and try to get

control of the bike. This was leaving the mutant

squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want

to crash into somebody's tree, house, or parked car.

Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the

throttle, my brain was just simply overloaded. I did

manage to mash the back brake, but it had little

affect against the massive power of the big cruiser.



About this time the squirrel decided that I was not

paying sufficient attention to this very serious

battle (maybe he is a Scottish attack squirrel of

death), and he came around my neck and got IN my

full-face helmet with me. As the faceplate closed

partway and he began hissing in my face I am quite

sure my screaming changed tone and intensity. It

seemed to have little affect on the squirrel however.



The rpm's on The Dragon maxed out (I was not concerned

about shifting at the moment) and her front end

started to drop.



Now picture the large man on the huge black and chrome

cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very ragged torn t-shirt,

and wearing one leather glove, roaring at probably

80mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy

squirrel's tail sticking out his mostly closed

full-face helmet. By now the screams are probably

getting a little hoarse.



Finally I got the upper hand. I managed to grab his

tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him

to the left as hard as I could. This time it

worked, sort-of. Spectacularly sort-of, so to speak.


Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome

cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn t-shirt flapping in

the breeze, and wearing one leather glove, moving at

probably 80mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody

murder roars by and with all his strength throws a

live squirrel grenade directly into your police car.


I heard screams. They weren't mine...


I managed to get the big motorcycle under directional

control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I

then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a

cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign at a busy cross street.



I would have returned to fess up (and to get my glove

back). I really would have. Really. But for two

things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about

me at the moment. One of them was on his back in the front yard of the house they

had been parked in front of and was rapidly crabbing backwards away from the patrol

car. The other was standing in the street and was training a riot shotgun on the

police cruiser.


So the cops were not interested in me. They often

insist to "let the professionals handle it" anyway.


That was one thing. The other? Well, I swear I could

see the squirrel, standing in the back window of the

patrol car among shredded and flying pieces of foam

and upholstery, and shaking his little fist at me. I

think he was shooting me the finger.

That is one dangerous squirrel. And now he has a

patrol car.



I took a deep breath, turned on my turn-signal, made

an easy right turn, and sedately left the neighborhood.


As for my easy and slow drive home? Screw it. Faced

with a choice of 80mph cars and inattentive drivers,

or the evil, demonic, attack squirrel of death...I'll

take my chances with the freeway. Every time.

And I'll buy myself a new pair of gloves. ___________________________




Miles and smiles,

Dan

9 comments:

Charlie6 said...

great repost Irondad...I remember seeing it the first time on your blog.

dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

bluekat said...

Funny story! Will have to send it to my co-worker who rides a Valk. I'm sure there is an ATGATT story in there somewhere. Never mind, the squirrel would have made it's way inside the gear anyway. That almost sounds worse than road rash. Glad you reposted the story, I didn't see it the first time around.

Bryce said...

Meyer has a nw additional interest in Clarksville Texas available at http://theoldvictorian.com/

Very interesting!

Steve Williams said...

First, I want to thank you again for all the fine work on the gaining new skills series. As always I ready things you write in this area carefully. The outcome this time was to register for the MSF Experienced Rider course and do some more practicing.

Squirrels. Funny story. On campus here we have some really tame, fearless ones that think nothing of leaping up on you if they think you have a treat for them. And they can seem pretty creepy when they are trying to climb up your leg.

If you need to see some other squirrel action check out Little Girl Playing with Dead Squirrel.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks
Follow me on Twitter

Geoff James said...

Dan,
Funny that you should choose an extract about riding behind the curve and to take a break. My latest blog post mentioned exactly that when I went for a ride yesterday. And the break fixed the problem!

Lucky said...

That story always cracks me up. It's exactly unbelievable enough to make me think it really happened.

Chuck Pefley said...

Great educational read, as always, Dan! Thanks for re-posting as I missed it the first time around.

Orygunner said...

I love Daniel Meyer's writing, I've read everything on his website at http://lifeisaroad.com and want to read his books someday.

Frank.

Dar said...

Oh my gosh I read this to my daughter & we were both rolling with laughter & tears streaming down our faces. I happen to live on a street with an over abundance of grey squirrels. I think I will treat them with a little more respect, because you never know when you are going to encounter a rogue ninja squirrel.....