# Avoiding 'flying' debris

3485 Views 29 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  mmoore
Anybody have any tips on avoiding the, for lack of better terms, drunken flying crap. Like a plastic bag that keeps getting tossed by the wind from passing vehicles, how do you calculate where it will land as you pass? My tactic has been to continue on and react as I pass. Any thoughts?
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I don't know how to calculate where the plastic will land, but it will probably land on your exhaust system [cheeky]
Plastic bags are virtually impossible to predict.

Unless the debris is likely to hurt you upon impact or make you crash, just maintain your position.
Also, watch for other folks trying to dodge as well, folks will do some silly maneuvers to avoid harmless stuff.

Kinda the same rule for critters too.
I never want to run wildlife over, but I'm not going in the ditch to save a squirrel.
Besides, here in SoCal, I've had several squirrels that were in a perfectly safe spot decide to run under my wheels at the last millisecond. :-\
G
just hold your line and keep going. only once have i had to pull over because a plastic pag was covering my radiator.

-R.
mossimo said:
Anybody have any tips on avoiding the, for lack of better terms, drunken flying crap. Like a plastic bag that keeps getting tossed by the wind from passing vehicles, how do you calculate where it will land as you pass? My tactic has been to continue on and react as I pass. Any thoughts?
This ain't the matrix. Random is the perfect word for plastic bag-like debris, there is no algabraic formula for the predetermination of the next shift in real space. That being said I've learned that bigger debris like boxes, trash cans (yes a large plastic trash can) and stuff tend to do the following - With almost any vehicle passing it will A) be drawn towards the vehicle as it passes B) it will be pushed away from the vehicle in the draft. The larger the vehicle the greater the shift in location. B escalates as each car passes and/or with air movement. Such that a box can traverse three lanes of highway at a very quick pace.

I do what my daddy used to tell me to do when someone elses car lost traction in the snow - aim for it and hopefully it will be out of your way when you get there.

I like what the others said about maintaining your line for the objects though. Oh and yes, people will do the stupidist things to avoid harmless stuff - they'e the biggest danger.
If you are going fast enough on the highway, a plastic bag can do interesting things to your front brake.

Happened on my old Hawk GT down on I75 in Florida. Didn't crash but scared the **** out of me with the fork dive.

Also, rather large rocks can look harmless flying in the air at your speed because they bounce along like tennis balls. Can do major damage to a person.

+ one on no evasive action for squirrels. Seen several accidents where someone (car) evaded a squirrel and hit a tree/car/etc.

Chris
A plastic bag was the first thing that came to my mind but I did have a mattress and a box spring come loose out of the back of a truck two cars in front of me, the oh s**t factor was high! Thanks for the input, realizing their is no equation, curious how other people reacted though. Its what happens when it is snowing and you sit inside thinking about riding to much...
I was in a long line of cars moving through a traffic coned lane a couple of weeks ago. A lowered Honda Civic unexplicably darted to the right & center punched one of the cones before jumping back into our lane. The cone disappeared under the car. I went on alert. Sure enough about a quarter mile down the road the damaged cone came flying out from under the car. Saw it in time to dodge but still wonder WTF did he move out and hit the cone in the first place?
Mac900 said:
I was in a long line of cars moving through a traffic coned lane a couple of weeks ago. A lowered Honda Civic unexplicably darted to the right & center punched one of the cones before jumping back into our lane. <snip> still wonder WTF did he move out and hit the cone in the first place?
I was a teenager once, still wonder WTF I was thinking/doing. Or maybe he just dropped his smoke and had to find it.
Kinda the same rule for critters too.
I never want to run wildlife over, but I'm not going in the ditch to save a squirrel.
My MSF trainer called it the 'lunch rule'. If you can eat it all in one sitting, don't even TRY to avoid it. If you can't eat it all in one go, do what's necessary to NOT hit it.
scoprire said:
My MSF trainer called it the 'lunch rule'. If you can eat it all in one sitting, don't even TRY to avoid it. If you can't eat it all in one go, do what's necessary to NOT hit it.
Hmmm... that works for a skunk too, in spite of the small size. [laugh]
San Diego is the best place to ride if you like dodging debris. I always speed up when I see one the "Sanford & Son" trucks in front of me. You know the ones. For those of you too young to remember the series, you can catch it on TV Land. We get these old POS pickup trucks carrying a load of crap larger than the truck itself. If the load is secured by anything other than gravity, it is usually twine or bungee cords. I have had to dodge sofas, ladders, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, rocking chairs, the tailgate from a dually that popped off right in front of me, and the ever so tricky plastic bags. The plastic bags seem to follow the void you create in the air stream. The only way to get by them is to hold your line and just as you are about to hit it, turn quickly and fake it out before it can figure out what you are doing. These bags are clever, but it takes a while for them to react to sharp movements.

One day I saw what looked like a bunch of paper blowing around on the freeway. As I got closer I noticed these things didn't seem to be falling the way bits of paper should be. When the first one hit my helmet, I realized it was bathroom tile flying out the back of a semi. All I could do was put my head down on the tank, split the lane, and hit the gas. I blew past him at triple digit speeds with tiles bouncing off of my head as the cars around me were swerving all over the road.
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Can snakes hurt you? I've always heard rumors about them popping car tires, but never anything concrete.
Plastic bags, paper, 'floating small stuff', I try to catch it. I breaks the manotomy of interstate rides.

Small woodland creatures, snakes, dogs that fit into purses... sucks for them.

Large woodland creatures (deer, bears, etc.), humans, trash cans, bar-b-que grill... panic break to slow as I can and try to dodge it.

I try to be very careful of tailgateing for this exact reason. It is harder to see upcoming obsticles when I'm 3 feet away from the bumper. Also, you can see up the road based off of cars reactions to alert you to that small child who is laying in the road..

Living where I do deer are a problem. Good idea is to keep it a little easy on wood lined roads around dusk, they love to eat then.
Regarding the plastic bag, flying paper thing, biggest worry is that it will wrap itself around my helmet and blind me.

I always look down at moment of closest approach so it does not cover my visor if it strikes. I find it extremely difficult to predict their path.

The second worry is that it will melt on my exhaust (happened) or jam in the front disc brakes (unlikley)

Regarding objects falling off trucks, the only advise is to pull back, give yourself enough space for evasive action and then get in front of them (overtake) as soon as you safely can.

Even a small stone really hurts if it hits you at speed.

Also watch for smoking drivers , they love to toss lit cigarettes out of the window and straight into your lap because they don't want to make their ash trays dirty.
I've taken 2 small birds off the shoulder. One at ~75MPH. FNA Bubba does that hurt. Oh, and BTW . . . almost took me off the bike! Well, by flinch was likely the culprit but still! My arm/hand was numb for the rest of the ride.

The guy behind me took the now-dead bird off the helmet when it bounced off me. Can't imagine that was any fun either!
yes those birds can hurt you..
i was hit in the chest by a small bird and was surprised by how much it hurt , it really made me wince, i was wearing a mesh jacket.

A freind has told me that he knows someone who is now blind in one eye from a bird hitting him in that eye. Aparrently he didnt have a face sheild or eye protection of some sort.
I rear ended a bird in my car once... It flew low into traffic and got knocked around a bit in the wind stream of the car in front of me. After it recovered it just stayed there until I plowed it from behind. Normally I would have slown down and moved to not hit it but I was thinking, wow, what the hell is that bird doing and before i realized it... Thunk! The fluttered around a bit and then flew away out of traffic...

I'd says squirrels are pretty dangerous. Out at school they like to sit on the side of the road and run out in front or under you as you pass by. It's just like that car insurance commercial where the squirrels are trying to make you crash. For the most part I'd say stay where you're going and just don't fixate on the things flying in the road since many of the things you'll see flying around are being blown the wind and will be kind of random.

Something you can do to help avoid the larger, more dangerous things is to just follow farther behind. Also follow on the left or right side of the lane behind the wheels of the car in front of you. Anything kicked up by the car in front of you will generally get throw around by the wind so it won't come directly back at you (except rocks). Also, anything in the middle of the road that the car can just straddle could be quite dangerous to you and if you're following to close you won't be able to react in time.
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i close my eyes and everything goes away. if i can't see the bag, the bag doesn't exist!

[cheeky]
Nastiest moving road debris for me was when I lived in MA and was following a pickup truck loaded with 4" by 8 foot pvc pipes. Of course the genius didn't have them tied down, and just as predictably he hits a BIG bump on the highway, and these damn things bounce out and start rolling all over the road, right in front of me. I was so stunned I just kept going and miraculously managed to avoid them all. I then pulled over to wait for the shakes to stop, and contemplate an immediate change of underwear.

I guess this proves that sometimes it isn't skill - you just get lucky (or not). Now however, I *never* follow a pickup truck with any unsecured load. Seen way too much crap fly off the back of them.
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