Squishables

Animals in the roadway are certainly an interesting hazard to motorcyclists.  A friend of mine actually had a vulture pick up its lunch from the roadway, fly it across a lane of traffic, and then drop it on the pavement right in front of her!  And then there was the time she used her foot to point out some roadkill, which turned out to still be alive!

These situations happen to motorcyclists all of the time, though I have not found very much specific information on what to do when it happens to you.  The Delaware Motorcycle Operator Handbook reads:

“Naturally, you should do everything you safely can to avoid hitting an animal.  If you are in traffic, however, remain in your lane.  Hitting something small is less dangerous to you than hitting something big – like a car.

Motorcycles seem to attract dogs.  If you are chased, dowshift and approach the animal slowly.  As you approach it, accelerate away and leave the animal behind.  Don’t kick at an animal.  Keep control of your motorcycle & look to where you want to go.

For larger animals (deer, elk, cattle) brake and prepare to stop – they are unpredictable.”

Period.  That’s literally it.  Now seriously, how helpful is that?

Back in the day when I took my Basic Rider Course there was a class segment devoted to this topic as well.  I will never forget what my lead instructor said regarding the matter:

“When it comes to animals in the roadway, there are the Squishables and the Non-Squishables!”

OK, once again…WTF does that mean???  I mean obviously a caterpillar qualifies as a Squishable and a moose would be Non-Squishable, what what about the in-betweens like squirrels and groundhogs?

eastgraysquirrel.jpg groundhog2.jpg

I came across a turtle in the road the other day and started wondering if the poor little critter would qualify as Squishable or not?  I mean, he was pretty small…but then with the hard shell I don’t know that he would actually “squish” as it were. 

turtle.jpg

What about a bunny rabbit?  How about a fox? 

rabbit3.jpg red_fox.jpg

Where do we draw the line between the Squishables and the Non-Squishables?  What do you think?  Have you had any experiences with any of these creatures?  What’s the biggest thing you’ve run over?  Was it successful, or did it tear up your bike or cause you to crash?  Do you have any funny stories about critters in the roadway? 

Please share your experiences with Squishables and Non-Squishables by commenting below…

12 Responses to “Squishables”

  1. Hi Diana,
    Only experience I have had was with a non-squishable. Janet and I were driving off of Skyline Drive to Luray, speed about 35 mph. I had a sharp eye out for deer, as always. Towards the bottom of the hill a doe came prancing out of the woods about 10 feet to my right. Fortunately, she keep moving in front of me, however her rear hoof hit something metallic on my bike (disc brake rotor perhaps). It was that close. Know this did not answer your question, but had to tell the story nonetheless.

  2. Steve, great story! I’d like to hear whatever stories our readers have to offer – squishable or non!

  3. Have had many close calls. I have nailed rabbits, snakes, mice and squirrels. (My crowning achievement though was a couple of birds in flight.) Most of my close calls have been with dogs and deer. I think about this subject alot. You simply have too always think about it.

    I pride myself on riding at all times and through all weather. I’m changing that. I want to live awhile longer. The best thing to do is simply park your ass during two times. The hour before and the hour after sunrise and sunset. (Plus it’s harder for drivers to see you at these times…depending on if you are traveling East or West.)

    I figure if it’s lower than my front fender or axel, then it’s getting mowed over. Even that turtle would be ok as long as you can get over a 4 x 4. That’s why they have you do that at the riders edge course. I jumped a truck driveshaft doing 80 mph. It was a good bump but other than that no problems. If it’s bigger than what I described …then I’ll just push forward on the bars, hunker down and hope I don’t hit it right mid section. I think a majority of animal vs. bike deaths are from the rider panicking or trying to evade.

    I seriously think that my “Oh shit! This is gonna hurt but I’m going to be ok.” mindset has saved me many times over. Seriously….either that or I’m just super in with lady luck. (probably the later.)

    Good to think about this. Most folks don’t think it’s going to happen to them. Depends on where you are riding also. Mountains = more risk. Desert = less. City = your a frickin’ insane rider who has a death wish.

  4. sorry…long one. Forgive me.

  5. I’ve never (knock on wood) ran over any “squishables” but I had a very, very, very close call in the Grand Tetons with a free range cow. I really don’t think you can tell what is squishable or not until you are in the moment and can asses everything around you. I do think that there could be more/better training for motorcyclist.

  6. Good point Rhonda, I suppose every situation is different. Guess that makes it pretty difficult to give specific advice or training in advance.
    ~
    Dave, as usual I gain insight as well as laughter from your words. “frickin’ insane rider with a death wish”!!! — I knew I loved you for a reason! LOL

  7. A badger once. Made two mistakes. 1. Didn’t realize they could move so quickly. 2. They are much less squishable than they look. All went well for me. The badger, not so much. It burst and caused a brief traction issue. Then the animal went to that Great Burrow in the Sky.

    Perhaps an alternate way to look at is is this:

    If you can eat it in a mouthful hit it. If it is more than one bite, avoid it!

  8. I ran over a turtle once. They make a sound exactly like sitting on a bag of potato chips- a simultaneous pop/crunch.

  9. Snakes are all squishables to me. I ran over a bullfrog once and even though my hearing isn’t what it once was, I still heard the POP!

  10. Irondad, Jones, and Wooley –
    Eeeeewwwww!!!!

  11. Our experience with Squishables will astound All Riders!! We encountered a Non-Squishable just after dusk on a mountain highway in Colorado, just outside of Pagosa Springs on US Hwy 160…just in case the IDIOT State Trooper can read!!!

    Anyway, after seeing dozens if not more deer along side the highway just after dark, my passenger and I were on High Alert for wildlife darting out in front of us…Goldwing 1500 BTW. We took all normal precautions, slowed to a SAFE speed, used High Beams when no other traffic would be effected, stuck to the left of OUR lane… So, 160 is a two lane highway, with SEVERAL passing zones, as we proceeded along watching for wildlife crossing in our path, anytime a vehicle would approach from behind us, they would at the next safe passing zone, go ahead a pass us as we were riding below the posted speed limit…at a SAFE Speed for the conditions!! Just outside of town, there was a vehicle that refused to pass us, just hung out behind us, to close in my opinion…anyway, that’s when the Badger crossed in front of us, crossing from right to left, stopped dead in front of us…taking evasive action, braking to a safe speed to maneuver, maneuvering to the right, to the white line, the badger does the SAME, still in the direct path of bike. Braking further and maneuvering just a bit left as not to be hit by the vehicle following to close behind, yet missing the badger too!!

    Taking a deep breath, realizing how close a call that was…hitting a Non-Squishable Badger

  12. Our experience with Squishables will astound, but not surprise All Riders!!

    We encountered a Non-Squishable just after dusk on a mountain highway in Colorado, just outside of Pagosa Springs on US Hwy 160…just in case the IDIOT State Trooper can read!!!

    Anyway, after encountering dozens of deer along side the highway just after dark, my passenger and I were on High Alert for wildlife darting out in front of us…Goldwing 1500 BTW. We took all normal precautions, slowed to a SAFE speed, used High Beams when no other traffic would be effected, stuck to the left of OUR lane… So, 160 is a two lane highway, with SEVERAL passing zones, as we proceeded along watching for wildlife crossing in our path, anytime a vehicle would approach from behind us, they would at the next safe passing zone, go ahead a pass us as we were riding below the posted speed limit…at a SAFE Speed for the conditions!!

    Just outside of town, there was a vehicle that refused to pass us, just hung out behind us, to close in my opinion…anyway, that’s when the Badger crossed in front of us, crossing from right to left, stopped dead in front of us…taking evasive action, braking to a safe speed to maneuver, maneuvering to the right, to the white line, the badger does the SAME, still in the direct path of bike. Braking further and maneuvering just a bit left as not to be hit by the vehicle following to close behind and blowing by us without as much as slowing down or changing lanes, just about taking off the left mirror, yet missing the badger too!!

    Taking a deep breath, realizing how close a call that was…hitting a Non-Squishable Badger would not have been a good thing, being side swiped by an ass hole cager pulling a trailer even worse!!

    Then, again, more head lights in my mirrors, giving the driver behind a ‘safe to pass’ signal, so he could know it was safe to pass as we were not yet back up to highway speed…and stop blinding me with his headlights in both mirrors…only to find out by way of flashing red and blues…it was a Colorado State Patrol…pulling us over!!!

    This idiot, came up to the bike…me fully expecting to hear something like “are you OK that was a close call”…but NO what this idiot says is “you know you really pissed off the guy behind you…brake checking him like that”!!! “WTF” is what I thought. Responding with “what do you mean brake checking, there was a badger in the road”. To this the idiot responded “there was no badger in the road”. And threatening to give me a citation for Impeding Traffic for Brake Checking!!!

    Then proceeded to tell me that it was Illegal to signal other drivers…again threatening to write a citation…and having the balls to tell me that he saw the whole thing and should have stopped both us and the driver that almost Killed us!! “But could only stop one of us” What an IDIOT!!! Then proceeding to tell me how to ride…”you should have ridden off the shoulder”. Again, what an IDIOT!!!!!!

    Basically stating that we should have crashed as to not piss off the driver following us!!!

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