Almost tossed it: beware of turtles - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Almost tossed it: beware of turtles

This is a cautionary tale.

Over the weekend my bike was running badly, it needed an oil change, and I had a Richland Rick fork brace to install and I wanted a before/after ride to see if it had the effect so many had reported.

At some point, I decided to run up to the gas station about a mile away and top off the tank with fresh gas.

So, I'm zipping along on a wide, clear road between a lake and a small pond, and I admit I might have been running above the posted speed limit.

A little ways up ahead I spy a box turtle crossing the road. No big deal. It was about 18 inches from the curb. I shouldn't even have to adjust my line. But then, the stupid things starts hauling ass across the road. Yeah, I never thought I would ever use the term "hauling ass" with respect to a turtle on land, but it was. A collision looked quite possible.

I get on the brakes front and rear, and the rear (I think) breaks loose. The bike wants to swap ends. I back off and regain traction, but the bike is all crossed up and bucking like rodeo bull. I'm hanging on for dear life and even jammed my wrist a bit. The bike starts to settle, but there is still the damned turtle ahead. Can't tell whether it will stop or run, and I have no idea what will happen if the bike hits it. The bike is still shaking back and forth and I distinctly recall looking the turtle in the eye and saying "Goodbye". But somehow, both the front and rear tires just miss the back end of the turtle.

I turn around, park, and move the turtle to the other side of the road cursing at it the whole time much to the amusement of an old lady out walking who had witnessed everything. I left an s-shaped skid mark about six feet long on the street.

To give an idea of how close a call this was, the turtle shat an astonishingly big pile in the road and I almost did, too.

Lesson learned: approach turtles with caution. They don't always tuck their heads in in traffic, and they can "haul ass".

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post #2 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 06:59 PM
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Be careful, turtles are know for "haulin ass"

Give an idiot power and you'll just end up with a powerful idiot.
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post #3 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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ROTFLMAO

Great pics. RT, that looks almost like it could have been taken on the scene. That looks like the road, but the pile was less coiled and over toward the curb.

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post #4 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 08:48 PM
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Glad you're okay, but hopefully you are laughing now. When we lived in Tennessee, those little box turtles averaged one every 5 miles or so. I've never seen one hit the gas before!

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post #5 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 08:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSmoke View Post
This is a cautionary tale.

Over the weekend my bike was running badly, it needed an oil change, and I had a Richland Rick fork brace to install and I wanted a before/after ride to see if it had the effect so many had reported.

At some point, I decided to run up to the gas station about a mile away and top off the tank with fresh gas.

So, I'm zipping along on a wide, clear road between a lake and a small pond, and I admit I might have been running above the posted speed limit.

A little ways up ahead I spy a box turtle crossing the road. No big deal. It was about 18 inches from the curb. I shouldn't even have to adjust my line. But then, the stupid things starts hauling ass across the road. Yeah, I never thought I would ever use the term "hauling ass" with respect to a turtle on land, but it was. A collision looked quite possible.

I get on the brakes front and rear, and the rear (I think) breaks loose. The bike wants to swap ends. I back off and regain traction, but the bike is all crossed up and bucking like rodeo bull. I'm hanging on for dear life and even jammed my wrist a bit. The bike starts to settle, but there is still the damned turtle ahead. Can't tell whether it will stop or run, and I have no idea what will happen if the bike hits it. The bike is still shaking back and forth and I distinctly recall looking the turtle in the eye and saying "Goodbye". But somehow, both the front and rear tires just miss the back end of the turtle.

I turn around, park, and move the turtle to the other side of the road cursing at it the whole time much to the amusement of an old lady out walking who had witnessed everything. I left an s-shaped skid mark about six feet long on the street.

To give an idea of how close a call this was, the turtle shat an astonishingly big pile in the road and I almost did, too.

Lesson learned: approach turtles with caution. They don't always tuck their heads in in traffic, and they can "haul ass".
Thanks for the heads up. I've seen them on the edge of the road but never knew they could move so fast. I'll give them more respect. Motorcycles bring out a special type of fear in animals and animals in the road path bring out a special type of fear in the motorcycle rider. When in doubt always slow down. The scariest thing on a motorcycle is being startled or unprepared, it can lead to overreactions which can likely be worse than just being oblivious.
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post #6 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 09:24 PM
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Forgive my ignorance: a box turtle is too big to run over?
post #7 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 09:35 PM
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I found out how fast turtles can go a few weeks back after we had saved one in the road. Before freeing him, I decided to put him back in the road on the yellow line to take a photo. That damn thing floored it and almost got away. Never did get the photo I wanted either.

Of course, the little guy I am talking about wouldn't have registered more than a pothole, sounds like you had a pretty big turtle to contend with.

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post #8 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 09:55 PM
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If it is safe to do, I stop and take the little guy off the road.

But yeah - definitely slow coming up to anything that's not supposed to be on the road, even more so if it's got legs and is alive!

Good to hear you are OK!

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post #9 of 22 Old 09-07-2009, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve68steve View Post
Forgive my ignorance: a box turtle is too big to run over?
a) Well, I would rather not hit a turte or anything else. I always stop and help them along their way and have found everything from sliders, to snappers, to box turtles, to musk turtles, to (I couldn't believe it) a softshell (Trionyx - never try to pick one of these up unless you know what you are doing, they can reach around and bite) all in the road. Until Sunday, all have ducked and covered at my approach.

but more importantly

b) there are several things than could have happened had I hit the turtle, and most of them would have been bad.

This was a rather large specimen (guessing 6-7 inches length and 3-4 in height). Think round like a rock with a strong shell. I could imagine the very unsettled bike hitting the beast and the front in washing out in a pile of turtle guts.

Think of hitting a four inch half-ball at 40mph that could either be a solid or grease and (I don't think I mentioned this) was on a curve.

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post #10 of 22 Old 09-08-2009, 07:57 AM
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Don't get me wrong - I have no special vendetta against turtles, or wildlife in general, ftm. I would try to avoid it if I could.

But if I had to do a panic stop or dangerous swerve to avoid it, I'd probably just wish his spirit well, stand up on the pegs, and blip the throttle over him. Either the shell is so hard that he's none the worse and it's just like hitting a big pothole, or he's liquefied and you have to roll off and straighten it out for a few feet to get thru it. Either seems better than locking up the tires to me. I read somewhere, "if it's small enough that you could eat it in one sitting, hit it. If it's big enough that it would make more than one meal, avoid it."

I'm not slamming your technique or decision, just saying mine probably would've been different.... and in case you read the prior paragraph thinking, "oh, this guy thinks he's some kind of riding pro," know that I'm sure my heart would be racing and I'd be screaming in my helmet - but panic stopping scares me a lot more than running over stuff.

In the BRC they had us riding over 2x4's; I've read somewhere recently (probably here) about a BRC that had the students riding over a car's muffler. If this turtle is 4 or so inches tall I guess it'd be in that category. Again, I'm not saying I'm right, just different. Being startled by the thing moving so fast would probably stop any rational thinking I was doing about it anyway, and being leaned over in curve adds another dimension to the terror.

At any rate, I'm glad you're here to talk about it!!!
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