Saturday, May 17, 2014
My stupidity nearly ended it all today.
Today's post isn't a witty retelling of some fantastic motorcycle trip. Today is all about be stating "I knowingly failed to correct something and the results were nearly catastrophic." I don't have to share the embarrassing part of the story, but I think sharing my lack of attention to detail and the nearly disastrous results might help out another rider. (Skip to the end if you need to read about my embarrassment first).
I ran my Motorcycle sidecar rig off the interstate and into the median barrier this afternoon. Other than a massively bruised ego and some scratches and bruising (ATTGATT Baby!) I am fine. I think I'll hurt like hell tomorrow, but today I'm fine.
Bike is in OK shape too. Looks like time for a new front fender. We think the forks are still straight, but won't know until closer inspection. There's grass and dirt rammed into places that for the life of me I don't know how they got there. I think the front wheel is still true (truish), but again further inspection is required.
So here's the exciting part:
I was traveling in the right hand lane of northbound Interstate 25 at 55mph. The speed limit is 75mph, but traffic was fairly light and no one had trouble getting round me in the other lane. As a truck passed me on the left, I felt that queasy, wandering feeling you get as the first indication that a tire is going flat. As a truck had just passed me, I thought it might be just wind buffeting. However, a split-second later I got that feeling again and I knew a tire was going flat.
I slowly let up off the throttle and began to merge onto the hard shoulder. About halfway onto the shoulder, the bead of the front tire gave way and I totally lost control over the bike. The sudden loss of power caused the sidecar to try and pass the bike, forcing me back out into the traffic lanes. I tried to correct by steering to the right, but in no time I was back into the middle of the right lane, I had the handlebars at full lock right as the bike arced left. I had no way to know, other than hearing a horn blast and screeching tires, what was in the left lane as I ran across the lane and into the grassy median. Thankfully, there was no collision of metal and no grinding of flesh.
My eyes really widened as I approached the grassy median which slopes down to the center of the median at a Ural flipping angle. I managed to move my butt on over so I was sitting on the side of the hack tub when I went off. I think the hack left the ground, but I'm not certain. My eyes enlarged to the size of dinner plates as I slid down towards the meat grinder center median. We have those cable type of medians here that are suspended between steel posts planted about every ten feet or so. Absolutely wonderful for preventing careening vehicles from crossing over into the oncoming lanes, but a less than forgiving barrier for us motorbike types.
The last thing I wanted to do was to get caught between the bike and the barriers, so I rode the bull until a split second before the front wheel contacted it. Right then, I gave a little upwards jump on foot pegs and almost cleared the top of the handlebars as I went a$$ over tea kettle. I must have scrubbed off a good amount of speed before I hit the barrier because I came to rest on top of the cables just a foot or two past the bike.
The right-hand rear view mirror stalk was snapped off by my right arm. I've got a pretty good contusion from that. I have no idea what my right hand impacted, but I'll probably be losing the fingernail from my middle finger. I am pretty sure that at some point my right thumb was pointing in an unnatural direction, 'cause it is bruised and swollen right now. Other than than, I can feel my right shoulder is hurting.
Amazingly, There was nothing more than a small clod of dirt/grass on my helmet. My gloves look untouched, and I had to look really hard to find just a hint of abrasion on the right-hand sleeve of my riding jacket. My leather riding pants don't look any worse than when I put them on this morning. It's a day like today that makes all those less than pleasant hot and humid ATGATT rides of the past worthwhile.
OK, now on to the embarrassing part, and hopefully lesson-learned. I mounted a tire onto the brand new wheel I bought from Terry Crawford last week so that I could ride the Ural up to Unique Rides (Randy and Tammy) in Fort Collins today. My aim was to give them my old recalled (April 2012) warranty wheel and pick up my new one. I was 1/2 way to Unique Rides when I suddenly realized that I failed to install a rim strip onto the new wheel. Since I'd already ridden 50 miles of curving canyon I figured that the last 50 miles of flat straight road should not be a problem.
I am certain that the front wheel flatted because of that missing rim strip. So please fellow riders, don't embarrass yourself, or worse, like me. As soon as you realize you've got a deficiency, stop and fix it. Today could have ended a lot worse for me. Maybe I could have also caused one of those cars on the interstate to crash too, and caused someone else injury. I've learned my lesson the hard way. As John Wayne once noted "Like is hard. It's harder if you're stupid".
So there you have it. Careless oversight + failure to stop and fix it as soon as discovered = near death experience. And yes, even though there are no pictures, it really did happen. :)
One last note. I was only about 15 miles from Unique Rides when this happened. I called Randy and Tammy for help and Randy dropped what he was doing and brought his flat bed trailer over to extricate me. Later on he refused to accept payment for the recovery. They offered to drive me home; loan me a vehicle; whatever I needed. Randy and Tammy are first class!
I left the bike in Randy's capable hands for fixin'. He's also going to install the new spin-on oil filter conversion kit that I was also supposed to pick up today. Hopefully, I'll have three wheels under me before too long. Luckily, I have the Royal Enfield and the Yamaha to get me by until then.