Thursday, November 16, 2006

Combat Commuter

Combat Commuter

The daily commute on a scooter is more like combat than travel. My daily experiences, plus some stories from my two-wheeled past.

Amen, Combat, Amen. The Dragon would like to welcome Combat Commuter to the scoot-blogosphere. Found him through a comment on Scooter in the Sticks recently. (yeah, the pros may call, the blog ghetto, but being able to view profiles with a click from comments makes me feel like it is Myspace for grown ups.) And if you think he's kidding about the "combat" check this out....

One dangerous aspect of aviation is the phenomenon called a Bird Strike. It doesn't happen very often, but when a bird of substantial enough size is hit by an airplane, it can do serious damage to the aircraft, and can even kill the pilot or copilot. As a structural mechanic, I have dealt with a few bird strikes. Besides the damage that has to be repaired, cleaning the carcase and guts is a pretty messy job. As a motorcyclist, I have also claimed a few bird kills. Many people have run-over squirrels, possum, or collided with deer. I kill birds. My first was in North Dakota. When I separated from the Coast Guard, I was in Alaska, and got the bright idea to ride my vintage Russian sidecar bike from there back to my native Georgia. My wife followed in the family car. Crossing North Dakota, I encountered a pretty stiff wind from the southeast, and was doing pretty good to maintain a steady 55mph. I was leaned into the wind and concentrating on the road, when a Killdeer appeared off to my right, moving from the same direction as the heavy wind. It never swerved or moved from it's path, but plowed right into my faceshield. The impact sounded like a shotgun going-off in my helmet. I stopped for fuel soon-after and surveyed the damage. The critter had left a nice-sized divot in my faceshield where the beak had hit, and there was blood and feathers all over the helmet and leather riding jacket. My wife told me that the bird had gone strait up over my head in a shower of feathers after impact and then tumbled to the right side of the road. My ears rang for the rest of the day. Another time, my wife and I were on a leisurely ride through the Virginia countryside on my BMW sportbike, when a small bird hit me in the shoulder. I stopped immediately and went back to investigate. The bird was laying on the left side of the road, dead. My wife jokingly called me a Bird Killer. We discussed the possibility of painting outlines of dead birds on the side of my bike. Most of the warmer months in Virginia, there are cardinals everywhere, and they seem to like landing on the roads to do their hunting and socializing. I like cardinals. I mean them no harm. I usually would beep my horn to warn them as I bore down on them at a high rate-of-speed. Some were too busy mating or fighting to react quickly enough. One particular male flew into my front wheel spokes just as I passed. I had to wash the blood and feathers off the front wheel when I got to work. Vultures are always fun to deal with. It takes a good bit of horn honking to get them to leave their road prize to let me pass. One fellow irritated me by waiting until I was almost on him to take-off, and then he flew right beside me for a short ways, screeching at me. He moved closer to me, and I vaguely remember swinging at him before he moved over the top of my head, across the road to an embankment on the other side. Several times, I have had close-calls with hawks, and once, I had an owl skim the top of my helmet. Fortunately, none of these encounters have done any significant damage to me or my bike.

Testify, brother Combat, testify. Combat Commuter has just started his scooter blogging, but with posts like these, I doubt it will take long before I'm checking him daily.

1 comment:

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