It ranks right up there in the oh-crap-theon of getting clipped from behind by a text’er or sideswiped by some jackass rich guy who flees the scene and does his best to evade justice and liability.
Last Sunday, my teammate Aaron Hunter came over to join beth and I on a tour of the EastBay hills. Oakland is a pretty sweet place to ride a bike, as you can climb up to invade the whitefolk hills, and spend a good few hours diving and driving your body into submission on short, brutish stints of elevated aggrevation. We did our best to punish each other on every climb and bust guts through any sprint sign showing it’s stenciled face.
Late in the ride, we decided to take Hunter down this cool descent on the west side of the hills called Snake Road. It’s fairly twisty, nothing super special, but fast and twitchy enough that you’ve got to keep your wits about you.
Back when i lived in Santa Cruz, Hunter and I used to dive bomb wet, hairball descents like we were training to drop proton torpedoes on Vader’s death star. So on Sunday, we were both looking forward to drilling it down Snake and seeing which of us would blink first. Not but a handful of seconds into the downhill, just as inertia and gravity began to tickle the sphincter something sinister … out flashed a deer like it had been laying in wait for us.
Now, we were going 30+ mph here, navigating a slight turn … all downhill. I was in front of Aaron by a couple meters … and i but caught a fleeting glance of the gawdamn deer on the left side of the road, a furry blurr splashing through the corner of my eye. My insta-hope was that the thing would just play nice and stay put, letting us woosh past with everybody happy and whole. I twinged a bit knowing that Beth was a few seconds behind Aaron and me, but i really didn’t have much time to react at all, because … JUST as I drew parallel to the thing — it took a fearsome, adrenaline charged gallop straight at us and launched … I mean LAUNCHED itself into the air.
Holey mother of crapballs.
This deer, this ridiculous 40, maybe 50 pounds of adolescent bambi, leapt into the air from the left side of the road like it was Carl Lewis over an Olympic sand pit. I mean LEAPT. Either this deer thought it could clear us like a farm fence, or the thing was trained by al qaeda as some suicidebombing ungulate.
When you hear a big beast take flight like that, the sound of hooves scraping and blasting off pavement … there follows a millisecond of silence that throws the imagination into a frenzy of activity, brain cell busting visualizations of ambulance-laden scenarios of carnage and mayhem.
As I passed the deer, and it flashed vertical – I could do nothing but mentally cringe and wait for that heartbreakingly familiar sound of bike meeting pavement in grindingly haulting terms.
I looked back in hopeful surprise and saw – - – wait for it – - – Hunter cradling a kicking, spazzed out deer IN HIS ARMS. The thing had jumped WAY up in the air, and on it’s trajectory down, had landed smack into Hunter’s face, falling down into his arms, held tight with hands on hoods.
Are you kidding me?
The dude’s bike handling skills are f*cking amazing … not to mention his absolute strength. Hunter absorbed the impact of the deer, somehow kept his bike upright, cradling the damn deer as it fought and flailed in in his arms. He then gave a powerful pump of the breaks and jettisoned the thing off the front of his bike, sending it sliding to the side of the road.
The deer, for its part, got the crap scared out of it. Literally. While Hunter was holding the struggling, freaked-out deer between his arms, the thing squirted out a rather shockingly voluminous amount of poo all over his jersey and shorts. Talk about marking your territory.
Beth saw the whole thing from behind … saw the deer jump, saw it collide with Hunter, saw it fall from him and slide off the road … and thankfully (i guess), get up and haul ass out of there.
Lucky days, yo.
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PS … after we brought the heart rates down, laughed the charged nerves away, and got back on bikes. Who did we see naught but a few seconds later? Pat Briggs, of course.
Nothing supernatural on a bike occurs without f’ing Briggs making an appearance.
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