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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Bicyclist Run-in with Deer

Cyclist Steve Goldman tells of his encounter with a deer at 20 mph while riding his bicycle:

I ride approximately 6 days a week, and Tuesdays & Thursdays usually are the tougher mid-week rides. I meet a good group of riders at approximately 5:15am, and we ride about 20 miles north to some of the nicer mountains in Southern New York State, motor over and through them, and then 20 miles back. With any luck, I am home at 8, 8:15am and on the desk by 8:30am. There is a Route 106, which is a 6-mile climb, steady at about a 6 percent grade. It is usually something which we hammer up at max throttle.

So two weeks ago I was chasing a Category 3 climber up this thing, about 300 yards off the front of the rest of the group. We crested the top, and there is a short descent to a mountain lake around which you ride before descending off the mountain. At the tail end of the lake is usually where we re-gather the group. Tearing across this road, the lake to my right, the mountain on my left, going about 32mph, heart rate pegged at about 170bpm, I hear a thumping to my right. I knew the guy I was with was just behind and off to my back a bit. I look over and see a little black nose.

A deer of moderate size had been drinking at the lake, must have heard us, and jumped scared onto the road. Amazingly, the thing started running up along my side. For a moment, probably due to the lack of blood in my head, I had a hard time grasping what was transpiring, but I immediately started braking. The deer was trying to get to the woods which were through me and on my left. I starting moving left on the road but there is nothing more onerous than going into a side ditch or gulley at speed, so I finally determined to come back towards him. This entire process took about 3 seconds. I figured I'd take my chances with the deer and pavement than a rock-filled gulley. As I made contact with the deer, I had a belief that he might change course (we were going about 20 mph now), but that thought was dispelled as he then decided to try to go straight through me. Deer are not smart. He clips my wheel and the handlebar spins. It is at this point that you know things are not going well but you do what you can to improve the situation.

With the deer literally at my hip, going 20mph, the wheel sideways, the last milliseconds before crashing, I leaned over his shoulders, grabbed his hide and used him to cushion my blow into the pavement. I literally tackled him and landed on his shoulders. If I had a rope, I could have hog-tied the 3 hooves and maybe taken home a trophy. My bike sort of stayed under me and was cushioned by the deer as well. My hip slammed into the pavement and so did my elbow which was on his other side. At 20mph, skin comes off easily.

The deer scooted forwarded once we hit the pavement and he was kicking to get away from me. He finally did and got up looked around a bit puzzled, but not mad and flew in to the woods...

I checked the bike over. Perfect. I literally had to pull deer hair out of the chain...The bike was fine. I was fine. I remounted it, and off we went. I still have some nice patches of missing skin on my hip and my elbow.

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