The Squirrel Grenade - by T-Duck

I never dreamed slowly cruising through a residential neighborhood
could be so incredibly dangerous! Studies have shown that motorcycling
requires more decisions per second, and more sheer data processing than
nearly any other common activity or sport. The reactions and accurate
decision making abilities needed have been likened to the reactions of
fighter pilots! The consequences of bad decisions or poor situational
awareness are pretty much the same for both groups too. 
Occasionally, as a rider I have caught myself starting to make bad or
late decisions while riding. In flight training, my instructors called
this “being behind the power curve.” It is a mark of experience that
when this begins to happen, the rider recognizes the situation, and even
more importantly, does something about it. A short break, a meal, or
even a gas stop can set things right again as it gives the brain a
chance to catch up. Good, accurate, and timely decisions are essential
when riding a motorcycle, at least if you want to remain among the
living. In short, the brain needs to keep up with the machine.  I had
been banging around the roads of east Texas and as I headed back into
Dallas, found myself in very heavy, high-speed traffic on the freeways.
Normally, this is not a problem. 

I commute in these conditions daily,
but suddenly I was nearly run down by a cage that decided that it needed
my lane more than I did. This is not normally a big deal either, as it
happens around here often, but usually I can accurately predict which
drivers are not paying attention and avoid them before we are even
close.  This one I missed seeing until it was nearly too late, and as
I took evasive action I nearly broadsided another car that I was not
even aware was there! Two bad decisions and insufficient situational
awareness. All within seconds. I was behind the power curve. Time to get
off the freeway. I hit the next exit, and as I was in an area I knew
pretty well, headed through a few big residential neighborhoods as a new
route home. As I turned onto the nearly empty streets I opened the visor
on my full-face helmet to help get some fresh air. I figured some slow
riding through the quiet surface streets would give me time to relax,
think, and regain that “edge” so frequently required when riding. 
Little did I suspect. As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile
shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me.
It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when
it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there was
no time to brake or avoid it - it was that close. I hate to run over
animals.  And I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should
pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact. Animal
lovers, never fear. Squirrels can take care of themselves! Inches before
impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind
legs and facing the oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his
little beady eyes.  His mouth opened, and at the last possible
second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel
for, “Banzai!” or maybe, “Die you gravy-sucking heathen **** !” as the
leap was spectacular and he flew over the windshield and impacted me
squarely in the chest. Instantly he set upon me. If I did not know
better I would have sworn he brought twenty of his little buddies along
for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothing, he was a
frenzy of activity. As I was dressed only in a light T-shirt, summer
riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This
furry little tornado was doing some damage!  Picture a large man on a
huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and leather
gloves puttering about 25 mph down a quiet residential street and in the
fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing. I grabbed for him with my
left hand and managed to snag his tail. With all my strength I flung the
evil rodent off the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb
as I recoiled from the throw.  That should have done it. The matter
should have ended right there. It really should have. The squirrel could
have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and gone on about his
business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the
wiser. But this was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even and
ordinarily annoyed squirrel. This was an evil attack squirrel of death!
Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands, and
with the force of the throw swung around and with a resounding thump and
an amazing impact he landed squarely on my back and resumed his rather
anti-social and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to
take my left glove with him! The situation was not improved. Not
improved at all. His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach
him. I was startled to say the least. The combination of the force of
the throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars,
and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right
hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a
Valkyrie can only have one result. Torque.  This is what the Valkyrie
is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared as the
front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The
Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in, well I just plain screamed.
Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed
in jeans, a slightly squirrel torn T-shirt, and only one leather glove
roaring at maybe 70 mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet
residential street on one wheel and a demonic squirrel on his back. The
man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder. With the sudden
acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars
and try to get control of the bike.  This was leaving the mutant
squirrel to his own devices, but I really didn’t want to crash into
somebody’s tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not figured out how
to release the throttle. My brain was just simply overloaded. I did
manage to mash the back brake, but it had little effect against the
massive power of the big cruiser. About this time the squirrel decided
that I was not paying sufficient attention to this very serious battle
(maybe he is a Scottish attack squirrel of death), and he came around my
neck and got IN my full-face helmet with me.  As the faceplate closed
part way and he began hissing in my face I am quite sure my screaming
changed tone and intensity. It seemed to have little effect on the
squirrel however. The rpm’s on The Dragon maxed out (I was not concerned
about shifting at this moment) and her front end started to drop. Now
picture the large man on the huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in
jeans, a very torn T-shirt, and wearing one leather glove, roaring at
probably 80 mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy squirrel’s tail
sticking out his mostly closed full-face helmet.  By now the screams
are probably getting a little hoarse. Finally, I got the upper hand. I
managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung
him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked, sort of.
Spectacularly sort of, so to speak.  Picture the scene. You are a cop.
You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street with
your windows down to so some paperwork. Suddenly a large man on a huge
black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn T-shirt flapping in
the breeze, and wearing one leather glove, moving at probably 80 mph on
one wheel, and screaming bloody murder roars by and with all his
strength throws a live squirrel grenade into your police car. I heard
screams.  They weren’t mine. I managed to get the big motorcycle under
directional control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then
used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at
the stop sign of a very busy cross street. I would have returned to fess
up (and to get my glove back). I really would have.  But for two
things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit
concerned about me at the moment. One of them was on his back in the
front yard of a house they had parked in front of and was rapidly
crabbing backwards away from the patrol car. The other was standing in
the street training a riot gun on the police cruiser.  So the cops
were not interested in me. They often insist to “let the professionals
handle it” anyway. That was one thing. The other? Well, I swear I could
see the squirrel standing in the back window of the patrol car among
shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery, and shaking his
little fist at me.  That was one dangerous squirrel. And now he has a
patrol car. I took a deep breath, turned on my turn signal, made an easy
right turn. And sedately left the neighborhood. As for my easy and slow
ride home? Screw it.  Faced with a choice of 80 mph cars and
inattentive drivers, or the evil, demonic, attack squirrel of death ...
I’ll take my chances with the freeway. Every time. And I’ll buy myself a
new pair of gloves. 

Posted by SPN on 05/30 at 08:54 AM in Blogging

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