June – The Crash
I hate it when that happens. I took my first spill on my motorbike last week and it definitely left me with an impression. Several paragraphs of impressions, to be sure.
The ride began at breakfast at 7:00am Wednesday, where the group was discussing why it’s common knowledge among riders that “it’s not IF you are going to crash, but WHEN.” I asked the group, “Why? Why does one HAVE to crash? Is it just that the odds are fixed against us riders? Are we just fooling with fate? Are we destined toward a momentary lapse of good sense, to go sliding to the ground?” For this rider, the die was cast, the newbie was about to test the odds. The whole idea left a bad taste in my mouth. How bad a taste, I was about to discover.
Our group –- I and Papa-Ken’s “old farts” –- left Sacramento after gathering the troops in two different locations, bound for Yosemite.
I was on my 2003 Yamaha V-Star Classic — “Lola”
We headed south, riding some pretty fun and scenic county roads, none of which I had ever ridden before –- small cow roads through the back country. I recall being on Ione Rd. and we were probably on Sonora Rd. near Knight’s Ferry. But I don’t think we were riding any of Pashnit’s Moto Roads this Wednesday morning.
The gentlemen in attendance all considered themselves to be “old guys”. But let me tell you, they didn’t ride like “old guys”. Each one handled his big Honda with serious expertise. They flew smoothly through the tight twisties and relaxed as they glided through the wide sweepers, like butter over toast.
All of the riders in Papa-Ken’s group had CB radios so they could communicate with each other. Mike, a bit brusquer than the others, rode up and told me that I was NOT to ride sweep, since I was the only one without radio contact. I had no problem with that, and rode second to last, which allowed me a great vantage point to view these veteran riders. I quickly dropped behind, as my skill levels were not up to the speeds these gentlemen could ride.
I settled in and was truly enjoying the ride, until on one small road we came across a herd of cattle being moved. We slowed to a snail’s pace and followed for a couple of miles before the lead rider in the group realized that the cattle were going to be there for a while. We did a not-so-quick U-turn and changed directions. The next road saw us to a dead end, so, after a quick map examination, we turned on to another small county road. This one took us to Knight’s Ferry. That is where I met my demise.
I was cruising along behind all but one rider at a brisk pace, one I felt comfortable with. Up and down some small hills on a poorly surfaced road marred by lots of potholes and asphalt patches. I was looking ahead to the next set of curves and to see where the greater part of the group was located. That was all it took. The two-second moment, two seconds too long with eyes pointed away from the bike’s intended path, the two-second “oh shit” moment.
I came over a small ridge and was met by a hard left. Too fast to save the turn, I saw the edge of the asphalt about to meet my front tire. The tire dropped off the edge, a 3 or 4 inch ledge over the shoulder and on to gravel. That’s all I really remember, except for everything going in slow motion. I hit the dirt and separated from the bike, sliding along the gravel as I watched my bike being tossed around the rocks and gravel like a child’s plastic toy.
When I knew I was going down, I went limp like a rag doll to roll out of the crash. I slid to a stop, got right up and immediately directed my adrenaline-hyped attention to my bike. I couldn’t believe it. She lay on her right side buried in gravel and dirt and I could see she was pretty beaten up. The guys stopped immediately and ran to see if I was all right. I seemed to be intact, but my face hurt a bit along with the big toe on my left foot.
Poor Lola, bashed and bruised
So, here we are, out in the middle of nowhere, and a patrol car shows up. (How do they know??) The officer takes one look at the bike and informs us he is going to call a tow vehicle. Great, it will probably cost more to get my Lola home than to fix her! We walked over to check the bike and to try to get it upright. Now, mind you, I am a bit delirious at this point. I can’t really remember putting together more than a few words, and I am unsure whether any were sensible or not.