Critters

In 4 years and more than 12,000 miles of bike commuting, I’ve had my share of close calls with critters: snakes, squirrels, rabbits, and birds especially.  I’ve never actually run over an animal, though, until yesterday.

And what did I run over?

A 300 pound doe. Of course, I’m using the term “run over” somewhat loosely. I was on the only downhill section of my commute to work, moving along at a pretty good clip when a deer jumped out of some tall grass and skittered across the road, directly into my path. I’m not sure how fast I was going upon impact, but I flipped the bike, destroyed my helmet, tweaked the stem of my commuter bike, tore major muscles in both of my legs and lost about 10% of the skin off my body. I’ll spare you the road rash photos.

A motorist behind me saw it happen and called 911 as I crawled out of the road. I’m not big on telling people they must wear a helmet, but this makes a pretty compelling case for wearing your skid lid.

There is one tiny scrape on my scalp from the plastic part inside my helmet and two little rub burns on my forehead from the foam pads. I didn’t even notice anything wrong with my head until my wife and mother pointed them out.

What’s the strangest critter you’ve run over or had a close call with?

47 Comments

  1. RANTWICK June 22, 2010 7:45 am 

    Holy cow! Or, I guess, Holy Doe! That’s crazy. Hitting a deer is big business in a car, let alone on your bike. Other than the odd goose or squirrel face-off in which no one got hit, I got nothin’ Nothing compares with hitting a DEER anyway! I’m glad you weren’t hurt worse… heal well.

  2. jersey rider June 22, 2010 8:36 am 

    well at least i’m not only one that gotten hit by deer or buck.happened few years ago while out on my own.morning riding past field by the school seen 3deer and they took off when seen me,few distance the down road..out come 2 of them and where the 3rd deer.bam hit me on the side,lucky i stayed upright and not get stepped from the hoof.riding alone isnt really safe and being in backroad,thoses accidents can happening to anyone.
    glad you safe and just road rash images if the deer tramped or hoofs tuch you..ouch in pain full way

  3. dukiebiddle June 22, 2010 8:53 am 

    Oy, can you walk? Glad you weren’t hurt worse.

  4. RL June 22, 2010 9:04 am 

    WHOA! You are one lucky guy, could have been worse.

    Let’s see the pics!

    You’re ok right? You can walk and do all that stuff?

  5. RL June 22, 2010 9:05 am 

    forgot to mention. I almost ran over a squirrel while I was downhill mountain biking this weekend. My buddy who had a helmet cam got it on film.

  6. Noah June 22, 2010 9:19 am 

    Also: Yes, I can walk, but it’s very, very painful. I also think I tore or severely sprained my left deltoid. Between that and the bone-deep rash on my left elbow, my left arm’s pretty much useless. I’ll see how my legs heal up. I’ll probably be back on the bike by next week.

  7. Jeremy June 22, 2010 9:22 am 

    glad to hear you’re ok.

  8. burnhamish June 22, 2010 9:42 am 

    I had a mad goose actually take flight after me- close enough I could feel the air from his flapping. Came face-to- um, wheel, with a helmet-sized snapping turtle, whom I politely stepped around. Never hit a deer, nope.

  9. TimK June 22, 2010 9:44 am 

    Back in 1995 when I was living in Stockholm, I cycle-commuted 2-3 times a week from central Stockholm to a suburb south of the city where I worked.

    One day I was pedaling through a neighborhood in a more rural area between home and work. I made a left turn and immediately saw something moving toward me in my peripheral vision, and thought: Oh, Lord, let this not be a dog that’s going to get after me.

    Well, it wasn’t. It was a moose.

    It thundered across the road only a couple of meters in front of me. Had I been there about one second earlier, I might well not be able to write these words.

  10. TimK June 22, 2010 9:45 am 

    PS Noah: I’m really glad you weren’t more seriously injured by your encounter with that doe. Hope you’re completely recovered very soon.

  11. Brian, Seattle June 22, 2010 10:21 am 

    I had a squirrel run through my front wheel. This was a road bike with considerable spacing between spokes. Little fella just lost a few hairs and kept going — that is, the squirrel, not me… :o)

  12. LockMaster Jeff June 22, 2010 12:45 pm 

    I didn’t actually “hit” a deer, but 2 walked into the street in front of me as I was speeding down a steep hill at 30+mph. They left a 3 foot space between them that I cut through but not till after I applied too much brake pressure and had my rear wheel start to try and skid around up front. I straightend out, shot the gap and continued down. My addrenaline was through the roof!

  13. LockMaster Jeff June 22, 2010 12:47 pm 

    Saw the road rash pics. Ouch dude.

  14. Ghost Rider June 22, 2010 2:52 pm 

    Good Lord…glad you survived — things could have been much worse!

  15. Mike Myers June 22, 2010 3:35 pm 

    Ouch, indeed. Noah, are you sure muscles are torn and not just(not to minimize your pain) strained? Road rash sucks but it could have been so much worse.

    I broke my helmet in exactly the same spot when I was hit by a truck. Looking at the crack made me a helmet evangelist.

  16. Sam June 22, 2010 4:36 pm 

    I ran over a pretty good sized snake while mountain biking. I actually didn’t even notice it until I realized my brother had seen it and stopped behind me. I turned around and man, that snake was pissed.

  17. Phil June 22, 2010 5:37 pm 

    Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow… wow… glad you lived to tell the story.

  18. ha1ku June 22, 2010 5:43 pm 

    I hope you’ll recover quickly from what sounds to be a frightful crash. I’m fortunate to not have experienced similar yet, however a week or two ago I nearly ran over a squirrel. We both zig-zagged, each trying to ascertain the other’s direction and I missed him by inches.

  19. Janice in GA June 22, 2010 6:38 pm 

    Whoa. Glad you’re ok.

  20. Sabinna June 23, 2010 2:45 am 

    Lizards–can’t stand them. Snakes (quite a few of these in the early mornings), dogs (no shortage of snappers), startled birds zipping at you out of the undergrowth etc. all ok. But lizards sit up, look you in the eye, and only back off at the last second…or anyway sprint madly for the sides of the road. And helmets are the priceless investment.

  21. cafn8 June 23, 2010 4:35 am 

    I’ve had a couple of close calls with squirrels who intended to jump between my front spokes then (thankfully) chickened out.

    Noah- glad it was a doe, and not a buck (with antlers.) Hope your recovery is quick and complete.

  22. Kim June 23, 2010 5:45 am 

    On my commute to work I was riding through Wirth Park in Minneapolis when a doe stepped out of the woods and stopped with its front feet just on the bike trail. She looked around and saw me coming, and stood there with a worried look in her eye as I rode past, too late for her to really do anything.

    That was much better than the big turtle I saw on the trail one day, on a long trestle bridge. I had thoughts of picking it up and taking it back to more favorable terrain when it snapped out at a lady standing nearby. I then realized it was probably a snapping turtle, and I’d better leave it alone!

    When I lived in Sacramento you always had to watch out for Rattlesnakes. There was always the risk of them starting to coil up after you ran over them with the front wheel, and getting caught in the spokes of the rear wheel. I never liked the idea of a rattlesnake whipping about, stuck in the wheels near my legs.

  23. Jeroen June 23, 2010 6:46 am 

    Damn,

    hope you’re ok.
    The worst thing I’ve driven over is a dead pigeon. Living in the city makes deers not so much of a problem. :)

    On a different note: What happened with the RSS feed? I loved how I was able to read full articles in my reader. Now I have to click through. :( not cool

  24. Al June 23, 2010 7:11 am 

    Damn. That’s hardcore. Glad to hear you’re ok.

    I ran over a squirrel once. It darted onto the path, changed it’s mind and headed back into the bush, then changed it’s mind again at the last second and went right under my back tire. I looked back and it was twitching away. I felt soooooo shitty. On my ride back from work that day it was picked clean.

  25. Moe June 23, 2010 9:17 am 

    @Jeroen, we had to switch to Feedburner RSS feeds. WP RSS feeds were using too many server resources and costing us extra money.

  26. 100poundsago June 23, 2010 10:28 am 

    First of all glad you are more or less ok, thankfully you where wearing your helmet I can tell you with some accuracy that if you werent and your skull took the full hit in the occipital lobe…..well…..thankfully you had your lid on. My strangest where two demon posessed racoons on a early morning ride who skitted between my front tire and my cranks, somehow I never made contact with them. I say demon posessed because when my headlight hit them their eyes burned a crazy red. I had a close encounter with a skunk as well. I am pretty sure I broke some kind of land speed record on that morning trying to get clear of the blast zone.

  27. Dave Lloyd June 23, 2010 11:10 am 

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery! I’m glad you weren’t more seriously injured or, worse, run over after falling in the street.

    I nearly hit a cat about a week ago. I thought that it would have moved, but it kept inching closer and closer into my path (I was on the right side of a residential street, the cat was in the middle). I braked hard and avoided nearly obliterating fluffy. Only then did it look up and realize that I was there. I bet it was stalking something in the grass and was so focused that it didn’t even notice me until the last second.

  28. Melissa S. June 23, 2010 11:51 am 

    Wow! I see deer all the time off the bike path but I’ve never even thought that I might collide with one!
    Glad you’re okay!

  29. Dan S. June 23, 2010 12:38 pm 

    Sorry to hear you hit a deer. I put in over 12,000 miles each year and have often worried about hitting one. A few years ago I hit a rabbit dead center and broke its back I think as it was squirming on the trail when I looked back. Some close calls were hitting a fox’s tail as it darted across the bike trail and bumping a raccoon with my foot as it jumped out of a storm sewer drain in front of me.

  30. Dave June 23, 2010 1:58 pm 

    I’m glad you’re OK, but I’m curious how the deer fared?

  31. Dan June 24, 2010 4:40 am 

    Oh deer!

  32. John Romeo Alpha June 24, 2010 6:08 am 

    I squished a medium-sized rat along the canal one night. Not on purpose. Little guy just got spooked by my light I think, ran right under the wheel.

  33. queen tonks June 24, 2010 8:37 am 

    never hit anything, yet. but have had enough close calls that i have begun “talking” to the animals that i see may be close enough to cause problems. ie, hissing at cats, growling/barking at most anything else. there was once that i rode alongside two deer, i think they were bucks, but at that time of year it was rather hard to tell as they had dropped antler already. it was quite neat actually, i was pushing it to go 20 and they were just cruising. when they noticed me, they put on the gas and had to hit at least 30. very cool

  34. Bob June 24, 2010 12:42 pm 

    Two rattlesnakes while I was biking to work at Nellis AFB in Nevada, along with coyotes running alongside the road as I was flying down Hollywood to the back gate.

  35. crazycommutingcyclist June 24, 2010 2:42 pm 

    Glad you are ok. I have had some close encounters with deer myself. I always fear rutting season when the bucks are high on man juice and the smell of does in the air. So was it hard to convince your employeers that you hit a deer and could not make it into work? It is not hard to explain why your missing work when you hit a deer with your car, but a bike? That could be difficult.

  36. Parepidemos June 24, 2010 5:04 pm 

    @crazy: sheesh, just email a link to the road rash photos and the boss won’t need any more explaining. Tho he/she might be more interested in the story itself.

    I’m an urban commuter like Jeroen– stray dogs are the only live animals that I have had to dodge, and very rarely at that. The pigeons dawdle but always get well out of the way at the last minute.

  37. tadster June 25, 2010 9:39 am 

    Your thumb is totally bloody in the second pic. And might I ask, what happened to the deer?

    Best wishes for speedy recovery–road rash can leave serious scarring. I should know.

    Please don’t get on your bike until you are again fully operational!

  38. Gavin June 25, 2010 11:48 am 

    Got two sparrows at once the other day, they fluttered together out of overhanging branches directly onto my front tire, which was soon on top of them. Kind of sad really.

    I have hit a raccoon, a cat, and a duck. I have also had close calls with deer, but never hit one.

  39. tadster June 25, 2010 12:02 pm 

    I had a close call with a coyote. She was standing in a bike path around a blind corner. Fortunately because it was a corner I had already slowed down and I had time to stop completely before I hit her. From a feet away she just stared at me. As I reached around to my backpack for my camera(phone), she ran off into the woods.

    I have had many close encounters with geese, too. They are so obstinate, especially just after the goslings hatch… they usually stand in my way and hiss. People also occasionally stand in my way and hiss.

  40. Guy June 25, 2010 12:50 pm 

    I’ve had black birds attack me while riding. I’ve hit a deer while driving. Scary. I saw the thing running along side the freeway and then jump in front of me. Destroyed the left turn signal and dented up the van. Don’t know if it survived or not. I was able to pull it over to inspect the damage but didn’t see the deer.

  41. Jon Karak June 27, 2010 4:58 pm 

    About 20 years ago, when I was a young teenager, I was riding home down a fast hill. I was riding my 10-speed when a brown flash took out the front wheel of my bike. I wiped out and slid for a few yards. My sweatshirt was torn up and the handlebars bent out of kilter, but despite having no helmet, I was OK. It was probably a woodchuck.

  42. Wendy B. June 30, 2010 3:26 am 

    I commute to work at night along side a river and there is a ton of wildlife. A few years ago, two raccoons ran out from the bushes. I missed the first one but the second ran under the middle of my bike and the back wheel ran over him :(

    Just two days ago I ran over a squirrel. I thought I was going to miss him but he turned back around and I ran right over him with both wheels.

  43. Matt July 1, 2010 7:03 am 

    As a NYC daily commuter it is only appropriate that I ran over a rat a few years ago. Came around a corner and the rat got spooked and unfortunately ran right into my path of my forward progress. Went “thump, thump” with front and rear tire both involved. At the time I did not know I killed it, I did not look back, but on the way to work the next day the evidence was overwhelming.

  44. Ed R. July 8, 2011 1:27 pm 

    I Veered to miss hitting a dog and ended up totally emerged in a hedge (minus the bike that went another direction). It took me ten minutes to painfully extract myself from the hedge. There wasn’t another soul around and with the exception of a few hedge scratches I survived quite nicely. It was like being in “hedge prison”.

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