Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taking a spill on a motorcycle

My friend, my son, and I were riding in the East Bay today, and were awed by the gorgeous sights. My son was on the pillion, soaking in the ambience. I never thought the East Bay would be so beautiful. The roads were lined with meadows and lush green hills. No traffic was in sight, the fog came and went as we alternated through the shade and sun.

We unexpectedly encountered a steep and sharp left turn, and I was totally unprepared. The motorcycle stopped and slowly tipped over to the left side, and made contact with the ground. My leg was pinned under the machine. I looked over at my son, who lay still on the ground. My mind was calm as it raced to assess what had happened and what needed to be done.

To my relief, my son responded to my queries, and said his left knee was hurting and it was trapped. We somehow wiggled his leg free, and I persuaded him to lift the motorcycle an inch to get my leg free. While my son sat dazed and nursing his knee on the side of the road, I noticed that gasoline was leaking on to the road. With energy that appeared out of nowhere, I managed to lift the heavy motorcycle upright. I suppose I had watched too many movies where automobiles exploded after the camera showed the scene of leading gasoline.

The left footrest was jammed into the gear shift, making the motorcycle unrideable. I called a tow truck using my American Motorcycle Association membership.

The first instinct of the tow truck driver (from S&F Towing) was to see if he could fix the motorcycle and make it rideable. As he said, "Maybe you can save some money." In spite of his best efforts, he did not succeed, and I ended up getting a ride back home in the tow truck. Since the mechanic was closed on Sunday, I requested a last minute change of destination. The tow truck driver did not charge me extra for that request. I marvelled at the fact that there are decent people still around who do not try to exploit the misfortunes of their customers.

My friend was good enough to hang around till the tow truck arrived, he left after ensuring that we were all taken care of. The boy's mother (my lovely wife) drove over 50 miles in a big hurry to pick up him up and take him to the doctor.

A visit to the doctor confirmed that my son will have bruises, but no broken bones. My left knee was slightly sore, my riding suit was scuffed, but now I had battle scars to show. My son's Bohn armor saved him from a more serious consequence. Amazingly, there was not a scratch on his clothing. Our helmets did not make contact with the ground, and so we get to keep them.

Needless to say, the boy's mother was not happy. But her support throughout the incident was focused and exemplary. May you all get such support from your spouses!

Later in the afternoon, my son walks up to me and says, "I am ready for the ride next Saturday." Though shaken by the incident, he has not developed fear or aversion to motorcycle riding.

The lesson learned: stay away from twisty roads until my skill improves. If I want to do twisty's, a cruiser is not the right choice. We will be sticking to straight line riding, and mild curves till I gain experience and skill.