Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Little Rock, AR
Had a REALLY close one this Saturday....
So I'm heading out by myself this weekend to Mena, AR to do some touring on the bike and also do some turkey hunting as well. Since I was in the western part of the state and spending the night I thought I'd check out some nice roads I've heard about that make for a tough day trip but I could easily travel with an overnight stay.
So I'm getting packed up with my stuff in this handy tail pack. It looks like a duffel bag and sits on the passenger seat of the bike and has bungies to hold it to the cargo hooks.
I've loaded up my heavy hiking boots, change of clothes, various personal effects, cell phone, car/house keys etc. in said tail pack.
The total trip was close to probably three and a half hours as I had close to 250 miles to cover. Near the end of the trip I notice that the tail pack had kinda shifted on to the left side of the bike, but not a big deal. I reach behind myself and slide it back over. It'll be okay.
Well. Here I am on the final leg to my destination. I'm out in fookin' BFE - hadn't seen a house for at least 10 miles and no cars, either, and there is a delicious straight with some nice sweepers - and since it's all pasture I can see through the turns.
I was already averaging anywhere from 90-120 on this road already. So, conditions are right: time to wick it up a notch.
I slam down three gears and gun the 12R for all it's worth. Right at 170 when I let out a 'yahoo!' in my helmet, I crest a small hill.
When I land I hear this commotion from the back, an awful grinding noise, and then the rear starts to get squirmy on me.
I realize something's not right with the rear of the bike. I glance at the dash - no warning lights. The rear end is squirming around and I'm going from yellow line to white line in the road and I realize:
<font color="red"> I'm doing 170 mph and my rear wheel has locked. </font>
Scenarios run through my head: Broken chain, shredded tire...oh sh!t. I've shredded a tire - <font color="red"> keep bike straight </font> This Could Get Really Ugly When It Goes Past the Cords. My mind then immediatly had a second thought: Wrecking Is Not An Option.
I honestly can't say I paniced. I became razor focused: I Am Not Wrecking.
Feather front brake: rear end gets REALLY squirrly. Okay - don't do that. Keep bike straight - stand up a little on pegs to help distribute weight and keep balance - how long will I have to do this? Now slowing to 120 or so.
Stare ahead and hope tire doesn't blow. That Will Get Real Ugly. Keep looking straight ahead. Don't touch the brakes. Oh yeah - probably need to squeeze the clutch so the engine doesn't do anything funky if it dies or catches up again.
Keep looking straight ahead and keep bike up. My God. When am I going to stop? Now slowing to 90 or so. I'm almost past the This Could Get Ugly stage. I just need to keep this thing upright. I glance at the speedo and now I'm doing a 'comfortable' 50-60 mph. Now I'm pretty confident that I'll keep it upright and I'll be able to stop when the bike was ready.
Finally I glide to a stop. Smoke envelops me and the bike. The engine is still running - I kill it. I take a quick look in the mirror and I see a single darkie as far as I can see that ended at my bike - yep. Rear wheel locked. I put down the kickstand and get off the bike to survey what the fook just happened.
I survey the bike. <font color="blue"> The tail pack had gotten lodged between the swing arm and the tire.</font>
My razor sharp single focus of "Keep the bike upright" immediatly changed to "I have to get moving again. I'm NOT going to sit here in the middle of nowhere."
I pushed the bike backwards to loosen the pack, and it and all the contents spread out on the road. Where's my phone? Sh!t, I need my phone. I look behind me despondantly but I find it in the fairing under the bike covered in melted rubber and deodorant. It has a broken LCD panel, the back is melted with a large 'skid' mark on the back. My garage door opener is next to the phone in the fairing along with what's left of a deordorant can, a toothbrush covered in melted deodorant and a severed tube of tooth paste.
The bag is in shreads on the pavement. My hiking boots kept the bag from getting wrapped around the chain and such. The boots had holes burned through them from the tire. All of my clothes had holes and metled rubber on them.
My Palm Pilot was unscratched, as it was in the top of the bag. I prayed my phone would work. I turned it on and checked voice mail. I could place calls if I knew the phone number - but the LCD readout is all broken so I can't dial phone numbers in the phone directory.
I then switch focus to the bike. A mechanical inspection of the bike revealed no obvious damage. Tire is melted all the way around with cuts through the rubber (but not too deep or to the cords). Ugly, but it's okay. Broken boot guard and my subframe plastic is tweaked from the pressure of the bag.
Bike passes inspection. I gather my very important items (palm pilot, phone, car/house keys, garage door opener) putting them in the trunk and left the rest on the road. It's all toast anyway. No need to figure out how to get it to Mena or back home.
I turn around and survey the skid mark. It goes as far as I can see on the road. I start down the road on the bike and reset my trip meter at the start of the skid: It's well over 3/10ths of a mile - almost 4.
I finish my ride to Mena - cautious of my ugly tire. After a few more miles I gain a bit more confidence in the tire (no flat spots or funny feeling from the back). My friends were hunting, so I went on up into Queen Wilhemina State Park to kill some more time.
When I come back almost an hour later my friends are there.
When I greet them I then crack open the best tasting can of Bush beer I've ever had. I sat down, oddly relaxed, and told them my story.
From Mena today I plan to hunt for the morning then finish my trip with a loop up by Mount Magazine and try out some new twisty roads - certainly NOT the direct route home.
We hear a couple of gobblers in the distance. I'm satisfied because that's more than most people will ever experience. Maybe I'll get one on another trip.
When I continued on my ride today the weather was oddly perfect. Not too hot, not too chilly. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather.
On Highway 7 and my 13 Miles Of Sex there were NO cars. None. Perfect traffic.
Had no other small close calls with cars that we all endure on the road. None. Perfect drivers.
Didn't see one State Trooper or city boy on the road today. Perfect.
As I'm processing this on my ride today, another couple of toughts cross my mind:
When my bike was coming to a stop, the road was a small two lane. But as it was gliding to a stop, there was a nice groomed gravel area there on the side of the road like the bike was supposed to have stopped there. Perfect.
The bag chose to fall off the bike on a long, long, straight stretch of road and not in a turn. Perfect.
I'm not sure what this is going to mean to me. I do know one thing, though. I'm not going to stop riding. Thoughts of my mortality are ever mingling with how good the sunshine feels on my skin. And my mind clears again as I hit a curvy part of the road.
So now I have a stiff drink to pour, a hot shower to take, and I'm going to enjoy being at home tonight like I never have before. I'll put in one of my favorite CD's.
A perfect evening.