Bike riding is just like the weather here in The Netherlands, hopelessly unpredictable.
My son joined me on a bike ride some days ago, and we were determined to pedal all the way to Germany. So we left home, on a radiant sunny day, and 5 km later we crossed the border. No, there are no zeros missing. It was actually 5 km to the border! We rode on, farther and farther into Germany where grey clouds lazily rolled in the sky threatening us with a never coming rain. We were talking and laughing and hearing the clicks of the bikes’ gear changing. It was a delight!
However, euphoria is not ever lasting. On the way back we were stopped by another cyclist who warned us of a deer ahead. Oh, how cute! A deer! I beamed an open smile and sustained that smile during the quick back and forth of incomprehensible dutch between my teenager and the gloomy man. He took off, and my son explained to me that the deer had been hit by a car.
Smile gone. I looked a few meters ahead and there it was: a little light-brown hump on the edge of the bike lane. The fawn seemed to be lying down and a trail of something wet was behind it, staining the lane horizontally. All of a sudden I realized that the deer was trying to get back into the woods.
My son approached it and I protested. I did not want our presence to add unnecessary stress on top of its torment. But the boy got close enough to see that the animal’s hind legs were broken and bones were exposed. The wet trail behind it was blood! The deer had dragged itself – all the way from the road, through the grassy road verge and across the bike lane – by its front legs! It was struggling to go into the woods, to go home, to be safe.
There was nothing we could do. Approaching the deer would only cause it more distress. The only option would be to call the animal ambulance, explain its location the best we could and ride on. I did not want to stay. I could not. The animal’s suffering was unbearable to me. We crossed the inter-city road and paddled in silence on the parallel lane to where the deer was left behind. I wondered if the fawn would survive. If it would be rescued. Or if mother nature would embrace it and lick its wounds when the little brown hump made it back into the woods.