Author Topic: All Creatures Great and Small - How to hit them? Dogs, Roos, but Not Bulls!  (Read 1575 times)

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Offline VinceS

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Re: A Dog strike, Thought I'd seen 'em all!
« Reply #2 on: 05 Mar 2017, 05:29 PM »
Something I passed to the MCCNSW after a recent miss a couple of weeks back. Just remembered to post it here, slightly tidied up version:


Here is a close call story from this old dog that I figured may be worth the sharing. As a motorcyclist, when it’s raining cats or dogs, or roos, or other creatures, you have a job to do….

Yesterday arvo I was out riding with the missus as pillion, and ran over a dog in suburbia, dead square on, at about 50km/hr. Very slippery things they are, and the dog hit the front wheel at pace. Over the bike headed, sliding and wobbling like crazy, but caught it and dragged back upright just before that final swan dive into the tarmac! Phew. No drama, went back and had a chat to the very unhappy dog-owners nearby and all-good – they may get a “Sunday arvo special” vet bill, but at least missed out on an unwelcome letter from Shannons.

For anyone going “how does that happen?” I agree. Not the saving it bit, we can all get lucky. But when does a dog run dead square across in front of you under the wheel? It doesn’t happen, we all know that. Dogs see bikes passing and chase them but, just like you checking for axe murders behind the shower curtain, don’t have a plan for if they catch one! So your main job is to get away and save them the bother of figuring out how clueless they really were when they catch up. It is better for doggie egos that way.


The more problematic dog sees you coming and has the bright idea of running at you. They are more difficult as a sudden burst of speed may stuff up the dogs plans in a way that confuses it, so it over-compensates “the chase” and goes under the bike. At least you get to see these ones coming. I have found the best course is to do nothing much, maybe slow down a bit, rapid beep your horn and see what develops. If the dog keeps coming, just before it gets to you turn away from it and accelerate; toot your horn again if you can manage it – gets ‘em by surprise every time and “it’s a miss” is the result. But some dogs do want to cross your path as they get to you for reasons only known to dog, and all you can do is see that developing and preferably out brake the little darlins, or maybe flatten it and run them over. But do know that, when they get to you, even the big ones won’t actually tear you from limb to limb; they just want to tell you off and scare you away. It is OK to get caught by a dog as, see para above! And you get to choose your exit. Dogs try to LOOK scary, don’t believe it and don’t let yourself fall for their doggie tricks.


Anyway, yesterday the circumstances are that the dog had only that second been let out of the yard on my right, and saw me from maybe 20m, but I didn’t see it until the road verge and 10+ of those m are gone. There were cars and people on the footpath and in its way, but nothing on the left side. The dog had some fox terrier in it but was larger than that, maybe 8kg. I later concluded it was racing over to the clear side of the road where it could run along the footpath and bark at the big scary red Italian motorbike. Tactical error by pooch, bursting out between the cars / people and straight under front wheel before it got to the other side.

For my part I know the best solution for any animal strike is getting dead upright and doing maximum braking until just before impact, then letting everything off and hanging on tight to ride it out, regathering what you can after the hit. Things that surprised me were how far a running rolling dog could carry me sideways, and how long the whole slipping thing lasted before I got some usable connection between rider input and bike movement. At moments like these I am just so glad I have practiced out of control scenarios (separate email!) and the most critical reflex to have welded on is “do nothing fast”, so it is nice and easy does it every time. Now we have all heard about that and implicitly know it, but just try doing it with a body slam of adrenaline along for the ride! Weird sensation I gotta say, but so glad it works.

A vet report 4 hours later was that the dog would probably make it. Wow eh. But I’m not sure if not having a broken back (which is fatal) is going to be all that poor doggy needs. I will add I often enough talk to fellow motorcyclists about this topic and my punchline story if you like is “When it comes to hitting dogs, the people live and the dog dies. Very sorry about the dog, but the people get to live, every time. Have this mindset and be ready to use it, and do not spend one moment of effort dodging the dog as YOU WILL GO DOWN. Hit it square on, brakes off, try and keep upright, and deal with what happens to the dog once you are OK.”.

It is the same story for small roos and sheep. I have hit both without decking it. But animals with physically higher body mass (horses and cows) take roofs off cars and riders off bikes, giving them a back snapping pat as they go under – so you must max out on brakes then miss the blighter. No exceptions. The bike hitting the deck is the least of your problems, just try and aim for somewhere without fixed solid stuff to hit…


Pigs and wombats, maybe try the dog approach but I reckon around 20kg is about the limit for riding through them. After that it is probably trying to select which sad story gets to be yours to tell. You really need to knock off the maximum amount of speed then miss the suckers, and don’t be too prissy about how you do it!

This latter category of larger animals, the burnt in reflex you need is “max brakes”. Not a millisecond wasted thinking about the situation, as soon as they come to attention you are squeezing the compression cycle (and hunching the shoulders if a pillion is on board) ready for the big pull on the lever. Forget the back brake, it is doing nothing you will ever detect. You are far better off to abort emergency stop braking situations due to any kind of false alarm than to wonder if this was the one you really needed to be on your game. If you get it right, it is a “wow, close” moment you rode away from. If it was a falsie, well it is a quickly passing nuisance. The pillion may need an explanation that this was you being a GOOD rider, not a bad one, because this is a hazard of motorcycling and you need to be ready to deal with it. They like living bruise / hole free too, so they rapidly understand, and even appreciate, the inconvenience!

As a footnote, yesterday’s dog got about 3m of emergency braking, just enough to compress the suspension and feel it coming on hard before I let go. Ultimately futile, but so glad to see the reflexes kick in as programmed! I encourage everyone to do the exercise a few times of pretending there is a roo round the next corner, in good conditions. Once you have stuffed up a few phantom roos, you may be ready to deal with the real thing.

Another thing I have learnt while criss-crossing this great land is, I don’t care how good you think you are, if travelling at sunset in areas where roos can jump out of the table drains, 85km/hr is reckless riding. Don’t do it. No I am NOT wrong, if you think something else, not this time. If you are fully on your game and totally vigilant, which is very draining, you might JUST be able to deal with them at 80km/hr while riding in the exact middle of the road, and 75km/hr is really the best you can go for any distance like this and expect to miss the suckers. Don’t let this info be a surprise to you / an argument point.


If you go 100 or 100+ you are genuinely gambling with your life with really crap odds here, like 1 in 5. Sure you get there 4 times, but crikey if circumstances have got me riding in the dusk period (try really hard to avoid that) I would rather be late 5 times than just really late once. You can gamble with “is this the road the roos are acclimatised to traffic?” and maybe bump up the odds to 1 in 10, but seriously, would you pick up a 10 shooter with one bullet and point it at your head because you didn’t want to be late for a beer? I choose living; hopefully, in these circumstances, you will too…

 
Plagiarise / circulate this as you see fit.
Vince Sunter  ( I'm ready, how about you? ); Check out these Riding Tips: http://tinyurl.com/4x3fk43 ;   Pillioning Tips: http://tinyurl.com/3r5dbz4

Offline VinceS

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Arising from a discussion on St John's Ambulance Motorcycling Trauma Skills Course
See http://www.stjohnnsw.com.au/tc_mfa.html ; It would really be a smart idea to arrange a local course, anyone care to organise it?

Comes this discussion, which is stuff we should all have a grip on - and ideally a few people that have done the above course around in case it doesn't finish so good for us:

How to Hit A Dog
Some might say it is as simple as "Pass him a beer". However here is a tale from last Sunday by a fellow NSW MCC delegate:
I came very, very close to needing first aid from a fellow rider on Sunday.
 
A mate and I had spent the past couple of months getting a CBR 250RR on the road and set up how he liked it... so we went for a ride out to Windsor, back through Cattai Ridge Rd and through Galston Gorge. We swapped bikes at Windsor, so I was on the 250 and he was on my much heavier Sprint. All was going well, I was in the lead and we turned into Knights Rd to go the back way to the Gorge when two dogs heard the bikes, came bounding out of a property and started running at the bike I was on.    One dog started looking at my ankle as if to latch on and the other ran straight across the road in front of me.
 
Nowhere to go.... because if I swerved right, I would have ended as a bonnet ornament on a Nissan Patrol (complete with bull-bar at a combined impact speed of 130km/h) and if I swerved left, I would have hit the gravel, probably lost control and then smacked into some very large Turpentine trees (which also lined the other side of the road if by chance I missed the Patrol.
 
2 seconds to make a decision at about 65km/h.
 
Some time ago, Guy Stanford and I were having a couple of beers, yarning about various people we knew who had hit roos, sheep and dogs etc and talk turned to the best way to survive such an encounter.     Guy said that swerving and braking was usually going to end in tears and contrary to instinct, the best thing to do if the animal is not too big - is to accelerate.  
 
This advice came back in a flash.... and so I cracked the throttle wide open and hit the dog slap bang in the middle, just behind the shoulder at maybe 70km/h.  Because I was accelerating and not braking, the front end was lifting and not diving.  The dog went down and the impact bent the front forks to the point where the tyre hit the exhaust manifolds and then sprang back.......  and the accelerating bike's rear wheel chucked the dog out the back and sent it cart-wheeling into the verge.  
 
Realising that I was still upright and in control (but with the steering rake affected and the front rim covered in the contents of the dog's bowel), I pulled over about 150m down the road and shook my head, turned around and went back to find the dog taking it's last breathe as the occupants of the Patrol were getting out shaking their heads in disbelief too.
 
In short, thanks for the tip Guy.  Given that I was on such a small bike, this advice probably saved my life!
 
Cheers,
 
Simon
(who since 1978 has now killed a snake, 1 dog and clipped another 3 dogs and 2 roos)


My own experience is that standing the bike up and braking hard is a useful first step if you can do it, otherwise  hold it dead straight and ride out the impact with no throttle or braking and every bit of you locked to the bike (stiff arms, knees virgin clench locked on the tank, legs sucked in, back hunched if have a pillion). On a big bike using the throttle much you are likely to destabilise yourself immediately past / during the incident. The game you are trying to (and likely to) win is momentum - you may have flunked physics in high school but it is still on your side! m1v1 = m2v2. You (1) have a much bigger M (mass) and V (velocity) than 2 (the dog) so the laws of physics would have you proceed and the dog assume a new momentum via you imparting a smidge of yours to it but then using the remaining majority to give you some safe recovery space. Not much help if you have already panicked and attempted to change your own momentum. Note that velocity is speed in a given direction, and attempting to change direction yourself is giving the dog a really big advantage to help you succeed, unfortunately the plan will be found to be flawed with hindsight - but Mother Nature will be cool about your sudden need to queue up at the parts counter as nobody broke her laws!

Of course the best way to deal with dogs is to spot them running at you when they are on the verge. 50% of dogs ARE going to run out on the road to get you, the rest are going to run down the verge barking. By far the best way to deal with it is to accelerate hard AS SOON AS YOU SEE THEM, don't wait for the situation to develop. Of course you can still get ambushed from behind obstacles so the momentum dance needs to be had with the animal sometimes, but even then the accelerator can be the best way as - with a dog - it will intimidate them into veering off at the last moment. But don't think this will work for wombats or pigs, they will win the momentum game because their M is much greater and more solid so you will be the one acquiring a different V - via a new trajectory!

However, don't think you can guess which way a roo will go! If they are wallaby size it is still OK to hit them. Any bigger and you need to be braking hard and straight, if you have any brainpower left over get it to your horn finger and help them understand the danger. Remember at night your lights on the road make "the safe place". I personally regard travelling at 80km/hr in "roo time" is reckless riding as you can only just get it together to avoid a collision if you are fully on the ball, and that is difficult to maintain.

Did i tell you about the day I was stared down by a bull on Thunderbolts Way that charged me? Another story, but we both parted company without losing anything but our pride. It is an interesting addition to the animal avoidance mix when you have managed to stop and then the sucker wants to charge at you!!!! Actually I should say I intially didn't take it too seriously and just revved the bike a couple of times expecting to scare it away, in bull speak this must have been a challenge so I then actually revved the engine a lot (thanks for putting in rev limiters, obviously with Spain so close our Italian designers had foreseen this possibility - is there any other use for these annoying fun-stopping devices?), got stuck into the horn and made a very hasty uie which is not easy to do when you have stopped in the middle of a pretty skinny road. Fortunately there was no dropping of the bike (whew) and the creature decided it would amble off into the bush to await the next Ducati rider - Frances, who wondered why I was stopped by the side of the road looking flustered just after the bull had taken its leave.
« Last Edit: 22 Jan 2010, 10:01 AM by VinceS »
Vince Sunter  ( I'm ready, how about you? ); Check out these Riding Tips: http://tinyurl.com/4x3fk43 ;   Pillioning Tips: http://tinyurl.com/3r5dbz4