He hit the deer at 70 MPH and was thrown over his handlebars and slid 100 yards… a football field.
He wasn’t able to walk away — he fractured his ankle — but that’s really the worst of things for him. Why did he survive?
The back of his heavy duty protective jacket was completely shredded, while the road cut deep grooves into the side of his helmet.
He was wearing gear. Proper heavy jacket, and a full-face helmet. I don’t know if he was wearing any protective pants or gloves, but likely so.
This is why I’m a fan of ATGATT — All The Gear All The Time.
When you ride in a car, you’ve got a giant steel cage to protect you. When you ride on your motorcycle, you have nothing to protect you except for your riding gear.
I happened upon a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago, before police and EMT arrived. Guy and his girlfriend were thrown off their Harley when a car pulled out in front of them from a side-road. They were pretty messed up, I helped on the scene with first aid, and after EMTs arrived I left. I assume they survived. But based upon what I saw, if they had at least helmets on — even DOT-approved half-helmets — they would have fared a lot better.
I’ve gone down. I’m glad I had gear else I would have been hurting afterwards. The gear took the brunt and I had little more than sore muscles and a bruised ego.
I totally understand not wanting to wear gear. It’s a pain to suit up. It’s bulky. It’s not always comfortable. It can be restraining. And damnit, it’s just not as free! It feels awesome to ride without any gear. Especially here in Texas where there’s a long riding season, and it’s hot… very hot… and gear doesn’t always help with that. So I do understand.
And while the best way to avoid going down is to ride defensively and conservatively, sometimes things just come out at you and there’s nothing you can do… like hit a deer. There’s so many whitetails here in Texas that when I’m riding on the backroads in the mornings, I’m always nervous about deer. I’ve encountered a lot of deer as I’ve been riding, but thankfully no close calls. I’ve hit a couple of birds (they were in the road eating something, didn’t get off fast enough, one bounced off my knee and the other off my windshield). I had a very close encounter with a buzzard on the side of the road that decided taking off right in front of me would be smart… you don’t realize how big those guys are until they’re right upon you. Point is, shit happens.
How does the motorcycle saying go? There’s two kinds of riders: those who have gone down, and those who haven’t gone down yet. It’s not “if” you’ll go down, it’s “when”.
To wear gear or not is a personal choice. It can’t stop everything, but it can prevent a lot of things. My personal choice is ATGATT.