I went down hard yesterday My nickname should be changed to "Lucky." I was 50 miles into what was planned to be a low-key 150 mile roundtrip to Carmel Valley Village, a little town about 12 miles in from the coastal town of Carmel. Weather beautiful, traffic light, a perfect day to ride. I decided to take a different route than normal, and cut through the town of Marina, intending to join up with a nice two lane that would get me very close to my destination. The four-lane city street leading out of Marina soon changed to a four-lane divided highway, posted 55mph, but occasional stop lights.
I was traveling about 50mph in the fast lane, plenty of room to the car ahead, when I came to a major intersection. I had the green, so I didn't slow down. The cars entering the intersection from the right had a two-lane right turn marking, but only the curb lane was permitted to turn on red. The driver of a white panel van in the second lane decided that he was going to turn right anyhow, even though this would put him in the fast lane of my road. I saw him start the turn, then suddenly realized he was turning right into MY lane. I started to swerve, and also applied my brakes. There was a moment of shock as I realized there was nowhere for me to go.
The next few moments were almost surreal, and I don't even know how accurate my memories are. There was a brief moment when my brakes locked up (or was it just the front—I don't know) then the bike went out from under me and I slammed down on my left side. My first thought was, "Oh F—k, I'm down." I distinctly remember thinking, "I hope the guy behind me is awake, otherwise I'm dead." Then, a second or two later, "Holy s—t, I'm still sliding." I slid about 90 feet on my stomach, but ended up on my back with my feet pointing down the road. My dear Destrier slid about 20 feet further.
The guy behind me was traveling at a safe interval and was able to come to a stop well behind me. He left his pickup blocking the lane and provided me shelter. (You can believe a case of beer is going to be deposited on his doorstep to show my appreciation for stopping and giving a full deposition to the police officers.) Within moments there were many people crowding around me. Within 20 seconds I had done a full self diagnostic and concluded that I hurt in several areas but there were no spinal or other major injuries, but the people would not let me remove my helmet which pissed me off mightily at the time, but then I thought they are doing the right thing, even though I told them I was an ex-EMT and was certain there was no risk of back or neck injuries.)
It is a strange feeling to be laying flat on your back in the middle of a busy highway. . . you just lay there while the thoughts go racing through your head. . . "Am I really O.K.?" . . . "What the F—k was that guy doing?" . . . "THIS REALLY PISSES ME OFF!". . . "Why did I go down—I've practiced panic stops many times . . . "What happened to my bike—where is it?" . . . "What do I do now—I'm flat on my back, 50 miles from home—will I be able to ride home—does my bike still work?" "I AM REALLY, PISSED OFF!". . . "This isn't fair—I am a careful and conservative rider" . . . "I AM REALLY, REALLY, PISSED OFF!". . .
A policeman showed up in about two minutes after I went down—he happened to be driving past on the other side of the highway and saw the crowd and the stopped vehicles. Four or five minutes later the Paramedics rolled up and took over the medical side of things. They did a quick exam during which I was able to convince them had only minor injuries. They helped me up and had me walk over to their gurney, then made me sit down while they did a pulse check, took my blood pressure, and checked my pupils. After a few moments they asked me one final time if I wanted to be transported to a hospital, then had me sign a release.
I walked over to Destrier and asked a couple of the bystanders to help me get her up. I rolled her over to the shoulder and after several tries was able to get her started. There seemed to be surprisingly little damage; windshield left edge badly abraded, ditto left turn signal, ditto left saddlebag, rear sparkplug end and wire cap broken off, left handgrip neatly beveled off about ľ inch.
After all the police work was done, I was able to ride her a couple of miles to where my son works. I needed to take some time to re-assess everything and figure out a course of action, as well as do some first aid on my wounds. (Yes, yes, I could have had the ambulance take me to an E.R., but I didn't want to get involved with all that hassle at that time, plus my bike would have been taken to a garage somewhere, plus I wasn't leaking blood in any significant amount.)
I called my wife ("No big thing, Sweetie, I fell of my motorcycle again, could you come pick me up?") then my son rode my motorcycle back to his house and I followed in his car. My wife picked me up -- "What do you mean `fell off your bike!' – what the Hell happened?!?" followed by anger and tears. There is no easy way to tell your loved one that you nearly bit the big one. . .
I came home, had a stiff drink (well, actually two), had a bite to eat and headed over to the E.R. at a local hospital where I spent the next 3 Ĺ hours. My upper Left arm was extremely painful, as was the back of my Right hand. I also had fairly bad road rash (deep abrasions) on the fronts of my knees. They took X-rays of my left shoulder and right hand—no breaks, but deep bruising in both places. The road rash was scrubbed hard with antiseptic soap and a stiff brush (boy, was that fun!) After a review of all the lab work (negative except for a few blood cells in the urine—need a re-test in a few days) I headed home.
I know many of you ride without helmets and other safety gear, and you have the right to make that choice, but let me leave you with these thoughts:
My helmet has deep abrasions on the left side and the chin guard, but my only head wound was a minor rash on my forehead where the liner was forced against my skin.
My First Gear padded ballistic nylon jacket had major tears and shredded areas on both arms, and some on the front, but I had zero (repeat zero) roadrash/lacerations on my arms or torso. (I think I tucked my arms tight to my chest and "rode" on them for 90 feet.)
My padded leather riding gloves were shredded and torn, but except for a dime-sized scrape on my right hand, there was no skin missing. There was an impact injury (I can't figure that one out—I must have slammed the back of my hand against the pavement when I first went down.)
My Bates riding boots were badly scuffed, but I had no foot injuries.
The reason I had bad lacerations on my knees is that I was too cheap to buy the Kevlar-lined jeans when I checked them out at the store a month ago.
One final thought: while I was stretched out on the pavement, the guy from the pick-up truck behind me said, with admiration, "Boy, you laid that bike down like a real Pro!" If I was a real Pro, I wouldn't be hobbling around this morning and not able to put on my pants or shoes without help from my wife. .. . . Chris San Jose, CA
"If it's too hot for leather, then it's too hot to ride!"
A friend of mine (poor sports bike rider) went down the other day. He too was lucky. He was wearing a t-shirt and has the road rash of his life! He is lucky it doesn't go all the way to the bone. I am one who always wears my gear. If it is too hot for it, then I don't ride. Take care and get better soon. Di
And another report:
Remember Comet? He was at The Gathering last year with the Tour Pack fairing. Anyway, he made a trip out west to the Grand Canyon and such, but it got interrupted by a mishap. Let's all remember -- it can happen to any of us at any time, so be careful and wear proper equipment!! Here's an excerpt......
The bad news is I went down in the rain, coming off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which cut our trip short. I went sliding down the Hwy at 50 mph. I,m thinking,"I'm 65 and I'm going to break like an old glass." But I didn't. Just a badly bruised knee(with nice strawberry) and a deep burn on the knuckle of my big toe. Of course I had 'Draggin Jeans' on which saved my knee, 'Joe Rocket' jacket with pads, gloves and a full face bucket, and 'Crusierworks' boots. I even keep that rig on in Phoenix at 114 degrees, but paid off. Tell the all the gang to please wear proper gear, as you never know when you might have to french kiss MacAdams( pavement, another thing the Scots invented). The bike was not badly hurt, but Progressive Ins. totaled it. I made out on the deal money wise. Am looking for a new bike, but in no hurry as I still have the 99 750 to ride in the meantime. Hope you had a great summer. I know I have. A real 65 adventure tale. Joseph 'comet'