By Tom Jenkins, Texas
While taking a long weekend trip with a fellow rider in South Texas, I was abruptly brought to a conclusion that anything can happen when you are riding a motorcycle. We were riding in perfect weather, maybe a little warm, in what we call ranch country. I've always been keenly aware of livestock which seem to escape their fences or the occasional deer that darts into your lane at the most inopportune time. However, I was caught completely by surprise by what appeared in the road on this day.
Since I had been riding for more than 20 years on various sized motorcycles, I felt capable of handling almost anything. On one occasion I had even had the misfortune of having to ride in heavy snow when getting caught in a freak storm at an early April rally. But today was to be a new lesson. As we were riding along at about 60 mph and I was in the lead when I noticed a discoloration on the pavement ahead. My first thought was that sand had washed over the road and that I immediately should slow down to a safe speed to negotiate it. I kept slowing as I approached the "discoloration" until I was only riding at about 30 mph when I reached it. But of course, it was then that I realized that what I had seen wasn't sand or gravel on the pavement. It was much worse. My friend and I found ourselves trying to keep our rides "shiny side up" on what seemed to be greased ball bearings. After we negotiated the impediment and regained our composure, we stopped to examine the road only to discover that some rancher had lost a load of cow pellets. For those who aren't familiar with this product, it consists of very hard, compressed mixtures of feed and grass to form a cylinder about 1/2 inch in diameter and about 2 inches in length. In essence, we were riding over a patch of "roller bearings".
To this day, I don't see how either of us was able to negotiate the hazard without mishap. I can only attribute our success to slowing to a speed with enabled forward progress without losing control. The only alternative to what we did would have been to have stopped and swept the road before passing. Needless to say, now I watch for "cow pellets" along with anything else that should appear up ahead.
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