Firearms Friday: Resurrecting a $79 Rifle, Part II -- Range Report
August 21, 2014
"Learner" Licenses Coming to Your State? They Should.
July 29, 2014
Rules for Buying a Motorcycle on Craigslist, Part 1: The Hunt
September 1, 2014
I Crashed, and Part of Me is Glad
November 4, 2014
I wrecked my bike. I'm pissed off at myself, and embarrassed. And you know what? I'm relieved that it happened.
The day was perfect -- not hot enough to sweat, not cool enough for the heated grips. I was zinging along on some of my favorite back roads when I came to a fork in the road. I realized that in all the times I'd been through that intersection, I'd never taken the right branch. Well, today would be different. How different, I would soon find out.
Pennsylvania State Road 841 has a sweet mix of curves and straights, with basically no traffic. How the hell had I missed this road? I liked it so much when I got to the end I turned around to do it again. But now that I had gone over it once I could go faster, right?
South of Coatesville there's a nice straight that dumps into an S curve. I'd done curves like this dozens of times. I felt a smile of anticipation forming as I approached.
I let off the gas to slow down for the S, but not much happened. Shit, I'm in fourth, not third!
I was too close to the curve to brake without lowsiding. The center line moved over quickly to meet my front tire. I was done, headed off the pavement. My initiation had begun.
Now if I can just stay up on this grass -- but no. The front tire dumped almost immediately. I landed on my shoulder and rolled in the tall grass, ending in a sitting position. Wow, that was over quick. I stood up and looked around. No one saw. Maybe I can get the bike up and get out of here before anyone comes around. I reached up to take my helmet off and GOD DAMN MY FUCKING SHOULDER!
Something was wrong. My right shoulder, the one I landed on, hurt like hell when I lifted my arm. I couldn't tell for sure because of my jacket, but it felt like something was sticking up where it shouldn't. This was not good. I wiggled my helmet off with one hand and walked over to the bike to survey the damage. Headlight bracket bent in at a ninety-degree angle, headlight case torn, headlight itself jammed with grass and mud. Both bar-end rearviews dangling. Something shiny in the grass next to the engine. Shit. The brake pedal.
While I stood there getting my bearings someone drove up. "Are you OK?" "Yeah, I'm fine," I said, waving with my good arm and smiling a little too much. This happened once more while I sat there deciding what to do. I lied again. It always seems like the thing to do, although it almost never is. But the last thing I wanted was to have my bike towed, wait half an hour for an ambulance and have my wife freak out when I called her on the phone to tell her what happened.
With the mushy ground and my shoulder, no way was I going to get the bike up by the handlebars. I stood with my back to the bike, grabbed the frame and lifted with my legs. Spears of pain shot through my shoulder. I got it about two thirds up before I started struggling, my feet slipping, my shoulder on fire. It felt like forever, but after about a minute I got it righted. I couldn't let it down on the stand though -- ground too soft. I spied a plate-sized piece of hard black plastic in the grass -- part of a car whose driver made the same mistake I did. I reached out with my foot, slid the plastic under the kickstand and swung my leg over.
It started right up, no problem. Even the headlight and signals worked. I put the brake pedal in my pocket, slipped the bike into gear and cautiously let out the clutch. I was moving! I was gonna get home! I eased it back onto the road and limped home at around 25 mph -- it was 20 miles, normally a half hour ride but a good deal more at this speed, and rush hour had begun as well. No one seemed to notice my trashed headlight or dangling mirrors, not even the State Trooper sitting next to me at a light.
I made it home and my wife took me to the ER. Separated shoulder. The doc praised me for being in full pads, helmet and boots, and said at that speed even with pads if I had hit my shoulder on the road it would have been a fracture for sure. So maybe it was good luck after all. Or at least not completely awful luck.
I've had a little over a week now to think about it, and I have to say I'm angry with myself for being so careless. Jesus Christ, target fixation! As Bugs Bunny would say, what a maroon!
On the other hand, part of me (not my shoulder) is glad that it happened. I got it over with. I had my lay-down. Now when some non-rider says "Have you ever crashed?" I can say "Yeah, I have," and I won't have to listen to the smug bastard tell me there are two kinds of motorcyclists, etc. Also, I'm now a member of the club. As someone said online, you ain't rode till you've been throwed. And I have now been throwed.
So I'm out for the season, seeing as it's November and I live in Pennsylvania. I have roughly four months to scrape together some repair-cash and rehab my shoulder, which already feels much better. The lesson here, as far as I'm concerned, is simple: Stay focused (especially on strange roads) and never, ever forsake the basics. And if you have a choice between muddy grass and pavement, take the grass. Learn from my example, and ride safe.