Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Saturday, 14 January 2012 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
SO YOU'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE HUH?
No this is not intended to be a déjà vu story, but I guess in a way it is. You're familiar with the neighborhood you live in, and the street you ride on in that neighborhood. You have routes you ride to work and back, and some of these streets you've ridden so many times they seem like old friends. You've become complacent when riding your motorcycle on these roads because you have become accustomed to seeing the same old scenery as you ride. That attitude can be dangerous if not fatal. I was riding the same route to my job at the Antique and Modern motorcycle shop in Santa Clara California, from my housed in Campbell. I'd ridden this exact same route at least 200 times. I knew every crack in the road surface, I knew which stop sign people driving cars would roll through, I knew, or thought I knew that nothing would or could interfere with my ride to work, because nothing ever had. That would change this morning. Something new would happen on my way to work. As I downshifted and slowed to take the off ramp from Northbound highway 17 (I don't know what it's called these days) to the road next to the San Jose airport, I made ready to negotiate the 15 MPH, 90 degree right hand turn at the bottom of the ramp. As I entered the turn the front wheel of my 1970 AMF FLH violently slid out from under me and the entire motorcycle started sliding. I was thrown down on my right knee, but still standing on my left foot kinda sliding real fast on the pavement. I slid about eight feet and stood up with a wickedly ripped right knee, and could not see my motorcycle. The guy I was riding with, Reggie Sherman pulled up next to where I was standing as said "you really looked like you knew what you were doing when got off that bike." I responded, "I didn't do it on purpose, where in the hell is the bike?" He pointed towards the line of hedge that curved along the off ramp perimeter, "It's in there." Sure enough, I limped over to the hedge and the bike was laying on its side, the right portion of the two piece handlebars was grotesquely twisted up at an angle. If I had a wrench, I could have loosened the handlebar clamp and pivoted the handlebar back down into its correct position so I could ride the bike normally. Neither Reggie nor I had any tools, again, I assumed I wouldn't need tools. I only carry tools on long trips, and this was short ride I took every day. I'm riding a Shovelhead and not carrying tools? What a dummy I was! Reggie and I dragged the AMF Bagger out of the hedge, and set it on the kick stand. We dusted it off, and picked all the branches and birds out of the cylinders and spokes. With my right hand way up in the air on the throttle, I kicked started the bike, and rode it the rest of the way to work. Why did I fall down on a turn I had negotiated without incident so many times before? Here's why.
Evidently a car or truck had blown it's transmission at that exact spot the night before. The very large patch of super slippery ATF was virtually invisible from my riding position because small amounts of dust and other debris and blown on top of it, hiding the shine. I mistakenly and stupidly assumed that corner was just exactly as dry and safe as it had always been. It just goes to show ya, when you're riding your motorcycle you never, ever, can be anything but super attentive to the road surface, and road conditions. Never ever take the condition of any turn, blind corner or even straight and level pavement for granted. Keep your eyes scanning, keep your mind and eyes on the road, and most of all always be prepared for the worst. Had I done that, I wouldn't have had to put up with the pain, scab, and misery of five dollar bill sized strawberry on my right knee for the next week and a half. That's the moral of the story…….when riding your motorcycle, keep your freakin eyes open, it may save your life. Things are not always the way they were yesterday, even though they were that way for the last month. Does that make sense? All those that are going to pay more attention when riding please raise your hand!