Yesterday I was riding back to work and I decided, like I usually do, to cross the railroad tracks right there by my office and see what the signals showed, see if maybe I couldn't spot a headlight off in the distance that heralded a photo opportunity. A black Ford stepside truck with those horrible 21" chrome wagon-wheel rims exited the interstate headed toward me and rolled the stop sign. I SAW him do this, saw him not stopping at the intersection of my lane and his and I was already braking and downshifting. Situational Awareness. I learned it many years ago and practice it like a Catholic priest drinks wine, and it paid off. I knew what could happen, knew what was about to happen, and I knew I wasn't able to stop in time and figured that I had three options:
1) Hit him.
2) Swerve into the left lane.
3) Lay Betty down and slide, possibly under him.
I rejected #2 because I didn't know what was in the lane beside me and I didn't have time to look over my shoulder, and I rejected #3 because I didn't want my leg chewed off under New Improved Sliding Betty. I was wearing my leathers, gloves, boots and Joe Rocket riding pants, but didn't want to get my leg hammered betwixt pavement and motorcycle if I could at all keep from it.
I hit the bastard. "T-boned him," they call it, because his truck and Betty made the letter "T" for one brief, bone-jarring minute. It's funny--looking back at it I can still sort of see Betty's front end collapsing as we impacted. Right after that I was airborne and remember thinking what a pretty day it was to have a wreck.
I must have hit his freaking big chrome back wheel because Betty stopped instantly. I didn't go over the truck but instead somehow remained mostly seated while the back wheel swung 45 degrees to the left and then high-sided me off into the highway. I rolled a few times in the concrete median and came up cursing a blue streak. Old boy must have been scared of a 6' 2", 230 pound black leather-clad biker because he never spoke to me--he drove to the far side of the intersection (I thought for SURE he was about to drive off,) called the cops and locked himself in his truck and waited for the State Trooper to arrive.
My camera survived, fortunately. I took some pictures of my girl lying in the street before the ambulance came.
(That reddish brown stuff isn't blood, it's fork oil.)
Damage-wise? My jacket has some serious scratches across it, especially on the neck, side and elbow. My riding pants have the same, and might have a small tear down by my calf, I've not looked yet. My helmet has a palm-sized skid on the back, and will have to be replaced. They're good for one wreck and one wreck only.
My right elbow has a tiny scratch about an inch long and this morning has a nice goose-egg and a soreness that goes right to the bone. I have a tiny little puncture the size of an insect bite on my right calf, which makes me think my riding pants (heavy armoured things) must have gotten punctured by a rock. I landed first on my shoulders, then my head, THEN my hip, so my shoulder muscles are very painful and unfunnily, getting worse by the hour. I've a headache since last night (the Physician's Assistant says this is due to the extensive strain of neck and shoulder muscles) and I landed on my wallet so my butt has a nice deep bruise, too. Since I started this post this morning I've since discovered my neck is sore from where the helmet strap must have strained when I rolled and I've developed soreness in both hands (probably from hanging onto the handlebars on impact) and in general all over.
And then there's Black Betty.
Both her front forks were broken clean in two at impact. All of the front end took lots of damage as you no doubt can tell. The left side floorboard broke clean off and the back left turn signal cracked off when she fell onto her side, and she picked up some scratches and scuffs back there, too. I righted her after the accident to keep fuel from spilling and killed the ignition and the key and realised that the front wheel wasn't coming with. When I messed with her again the second time (after the photos, the Trooper wanted my registration) the front wheel settled horizontally onto the ground. I realised this afternoon, after visiting her in the towing yard that the only thing holding the tire on her is the brake lines. I honestly don't know at this point if they'll total her or not.
Me, I'm sort of on the fence about that, sadly enough. If I have to buy a new one I'll buy the exact same bike again. The problem being, I won't be able to get the special financing and free extended warranty like I did when I bought Betty I, and that SUX. If she can be fixed I'm all for it but it's gonna take a month or more for them to get parts in and do the work, plus paint and such, so either way I'm likely to be off my wheels for a while. Keep thinking good thoughts for me, because I don't want to develop some damned deep psychological fear of riding, tho I doubt I will. I'm anxious to be back riding already.
The ambulance made a late arrival on scene, that was fun. My boss was there in five minutes with some of the office staff (nurses, in case I needed medical help, yay for working with RNs!) and we waited for fifteen minutes for the fire truck to show up. They put chemical dust on the oil spill (that's the brown stuff in the first picture) and in general made sure I wasn't dead. A nice lady who was passing by on the interstate and saw the after-wreck disturbance turned around and waited with us, to make sure if she needed to report to the police. I never got your name, but thank you, ma'am, for doing that. You were a really sweet lady.
The ambulance, I heard later, had been told the wreck had occurred "on I-49," not on the off-ramp area, so they drove a good ten miles past the scene looking on the side of the interstate for me. They made it there in about forty minutes, and BOY I'm glad I wasn't sitting there holding my intestines inside. They triaged me, and when I told the examining EMT that my neck and shoulders hurt I was immediately slapped into a C-collar, strapped and taped (yes, TAPED, with reflective duct tape) to a back board and tossed into the back of the truck.
My Personal Best Moment? Just before they loaded me in I told the two EMTS and the two firemen surrounding my gurney "Once around the block, gentleman, then straight home." 5 hours in the ER last night, slept with pain pills through the night. Woke up this morning to do a full check--sore in lots of places, and aggravated but otherwise intact. Pissed as hell, too. Spent most of the day sleeping and getting more sore, it seems. I've started the process, making calls to a lawyer (9am appointment tomorrow) and the guy's insurance company (he can't be located, they tell me) and so on and so forth.
I'll tell you this, though: Old boy will forever rue the day he was in such a rush that he didn't stop for a motorcyclist.