I'm not sure why I'm posting this again. It's the story of my only accident so far, so it is the worst I've suffered. I originally posted this to rec.motorcycles on USENET, back in 1993, when the World Wide Web was but a beta protocol which only ran on UNIX (or it's various children). It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since I wrote this, and 18 years since the accident, but I still think about it now and then. I should also mention, this was my first wife in this story: the second and I are doing quite well.
Anyway, here it goes:
Anyway, here it goes:
I'm not proud of this story, but I will pass it on as an example of what
not to do.
Setting, Fort Collins, Colorado. My newly married bride and I were out
on College Avenue, aka State 287, a six lane stretch of road which
bisects the center of town along the north-south axis. This is a rather
hectic area, having hundreds of cages passing through everyday.
We were in a particularly glum mood this day, (date repressed,) since
neither of us had been able to find work in two months. The economy in
that region was not the greatest in the summer of 1985. We had decided
to drown our sorrows in a movie, "Cocoon" if my memory serves me. We
rode out on our GL500I, (Silverwing,) and had a decent afternoon after
all. At least until the ride home.
We were southbound on College Avenue, just south of Drake road, heading
toward a small strip mall just south of our flat. I cannot remember the
name of the cross street, but it had a small ice cream parlor on the
north-east corner of the intersection. We wanted to turn east, so I
pulled into the left turn lane, and waited on the traffic. It was
typical traffic, bumper to bumper. I really hated this road, but it is
the main thoroughfare of the city, and everything lies along it.
I was out in the center of the intersection, waiting for an opening to
cross, which I believe is the proper procedure. The light turns yellow
and all of the opposing traffic starts to slow down to stop. None of
them were maintaining their speed, so I thought it was the proper time
to cross, before the cross traffic received a green signal. This turned
out to be the worst decision I could have made.
I was about 2/3 of the way across the first of the three northbound
lanes, when the jacked up 4x4 in the far east lane decides to pull the
Indianapolis 500 routine, and gun his engine. I saw it, prepared for it,
and stopped dead, not yet in the second lane. Both feet planted, clutch
gripped, front brakes locked.
This was a wide intersection, mind you, six lanes going north-south,
four going east-west, as well as left turn lanes on both roads. For
reasons I am not clear on, the driver of the truck panics, and starts to
weave. I'm stopped already, but his reaction is strange, almost as if he
expected me to dart out in front of him. At this point, adrenaline kicks
in. My conscious mind had not picked it out yet, but my subconscious
knew damn well this was going to go bad.
Mr. Truck arches far to the left, crossing the center lane and heads
straight for us. I let loose the brakes and started to back peddle as
fast as I could. It wasn't enough, and something in my head told me so.
I could not get enough speed to get out of his way.
The front bumper of the truck hit the fairing at about 40 mph. I
remember thinking quite clearly, "The bike isn't going to go down. The
fairing took all the impact." Until I noticed the front wheel of the
truck, starting to run over mine from the side.
I could feel the muscles in my arms clench like a vice. Total instinct,
nothing conscious about it. The bike was literally flailed to the
ground, like a lion snapping the neck of it's prey.
In true squid fashion, I was not wearing a helmet. I had on a thick,
heavy, leather jacket, long pants and tall engineer's boots, but no
helmet. My wife was in similar attire. I remember watching the fall,
seeing the ground coming up fast to my left. My subconscious took over
again, and I tucked my shoulder under, so that I would roll with the
impact. (I credit this to some martial arts training in my youth.) I
landed hard, but well placed, and my head was tucked high into my right
shoulder, avoiding the asphalt, then leveling straight out from my
shoulders. The rear tire of the truck brushed the top of my head as it
I stood up, and made a mental pass over the feelings in my body. No
injuries, not even a bruise. I noticed then that I was holding the
rubber grips of the handlebars in each hand, apparently pulled free
during the impact. (Amazing what adrenaline can do for strength.) I kept
the grips in my hands as I dashed up to where my wife was sitting, in
the very center of the intersection. She had a glazed look on her face,
shock was setting in. I called her name several times, and finally she
snapped out of it. I asked her if she was okay, to which she answered
"yes," but she wasn't walking normally. It turned out later that she had
a couple of fractures in her hip, nothing too serious, all things
considered, but it still troubles her at times. As it happens, she had
bounced up, then off the top of the rear trunk, then off the right
saddle bag as the bike fell, and then finally on her tail bone in the
street. It's amazing she can walk at all. She turned to me and then
gazed down the street, causing me to follow her eyes. The truck was
still going, it had not even slowed down. According to witnesses, it
went for three blocks before the guy decided he should turn around.
People in the cages near us were staring in disbelief that either of us
were standing. None of them left their cars to aid us.
I walked back to the bike to see what kind of shape it was in, and found
the fairing was all but gone. The forks looked like a pretzel, and the
handlebars were grip-less. I realized then that I was still holding on
to them, and for some reason I took the time to put them back on. I
don't really know what I was thinking then, but it was something to the
effect of "That's not right, the grips should be on the handles. I
better fix that." Strange how the brain works under shock.
A man and woman were suddenly running out into the intersection, asking
us if we were okay. It turned out that they were from the little ice
cream parlor, and had witnessed the event from start to finish. They had
also called the police and an ambulance. The man, (I'm sorry I don't
remember your name, must have been the shock,) helped me right the bike,
and we moved it out of the intersection, due to the cages' honks.
Apparently they had someplace to go, and all of the other witnesses to
scene left. But I have to give credit to one man who asked me if I
wanted him to stay around until the police came. I think I told him "No,
that's alright." This is an extremely stupid thing to do, by the way.
He could have helped me out a lot.
The ice cream man and I got the bike onto the walk, outside the ice
cream parlor, and out of shear oddness, I started it. Came right to
life. I found this strangely amusing, and I remember laughing a lot
about this. I don't remember much of anything of the next few minutes,
but my wife tells me that it was over 20 minutes by her watch, before
the police arrived. It took 10 minutes more for the paramedics to show
If either of us had been injured, we would have been dead. I was very
impressed with the emergency services at Fort Collins. [WARNING: Sarcasm
reaching critical level!]
The truck driver returned to the scene of the crash sometime during the
30 minutes I don't remember. A police officer ushered the two of us into
the back seat of his car, at the same time. He asked each of us what had
happened, and I'm not sure to this day whether I made any sense or not.
I was still in shock for all I know. I remember arguing against the
truck driver's story, because he was out and out lying, saying that he
never switched lanes at all. The next thing I realize is that I have a
ticket in my hand for failure to yield, and the truck driver is gone,
but not before I somehow got his business card.
My wife was starting to complain of pains in her hip when I came out of
the police car. She told such to the paramedics, but their response was
that she should go to a local clinic. They packed their things and left.
The police left as well, but not before telling me that I had to have
the bike towed off the corner before sunset.
We got a ride home, I don't remember from who or how. It wasn't until at
least an hour later, sitting in the waiting room of a local clinic, that
I came to clear mind. My wife was only minorly injured, and could come
home. We applied ice packs and salve to relieve muscle pains, and that
was about it. I was sitting in that lobby trying to figure out all that
had passed, when I notice the coupons in my shirt pocket. I remembered
then that sweet couple from that little parlor, handing me a couple
dozen coupons for free ice cream cones, saying something like, "I know
it doesn't mean a lot, but you've had a rough day." I don't remember
your names, but you're wrong. It meant a lot. That simple act of
kindness I'll most likely remember for the rest of my life.
I pleaded no contest at the trial for my ticket. I didn't feel like
waiting too much longer in Colorado, (the judge said that a plea of
innocent would set a court date sometime in the next two months,) since
a job was waiting for me in Minnesota, and a $75 dollar ticket is
nothing to pass up a job for.
My wife and I have parted ways recently, after eight years of marriage.
Evidently people change. I wouldn't have brought this up, or the post
itself if it hadn't have been for a letter I received from my ex,
talking about the accident. She said it changed me, that I turned
cynical. I can't argue that.
But the memory that is still the strongest from that day is the couple
who came out to help. I'm getting crusty and ornery on the outside, but
people like that keep me from crumbling too much into dark moods. It
sounds saccharine, but I don't know how to say it any other way.
I still motorcycle, though it took me seven years to finally be able to
afford a bike again. My ex still wants to ride again, so I guess the
accident didn't kill the cycle disease in us. It just tempered it. I'm
much more cautious now, and I ride with the firm conviction that
everyone, no matter if they are young or old or what have you; has been
hired to kill me on the road. Yeah, it's cynical, but it's keeping me