Monday, August 18, 2008

Another rider down...

I was just made aware through our national riders' website (Canadian X Riders Forum) last Friday, that a friend and fellow rider of mine, had also gone down recently. In fact, he was the third of us to have gone down in the last two months. It hits you like a physical slap, when you read the heading on the post. It fills you with dread and foreboding and you instantly find yourself wondering how bad it's going to be to read.

This recent incident took place out in BC, where several riders were heading to a VTX meet in Prince George. It was Thursday, the 14th of August early in the afternoon. 'Joe Racket' as he is known, was travelling North to Prince George. The initial post told us all simply that we should keep Moe in our thoughts and prayers, as he had gone down and sustained serious injuries. His bike, we were advised, had been totaled.

Having just survived my own ordeal (and being painfully aware of a rash of local bike accidents...), I was dumbfounded.

What the fuck was going on here?? Were we all falling asleep at the handlebars? Slowly, the details of what actually transpired began to emerge. As fellow rider "VTX Al" posted, the chain of events went something like this:

"Moe was in the vicinity of Clinton BC, which is a few klicks north of Cache Creek and following a Motorhome towing a boat/trailer in the left lane (fast lane) of a stretch of four lane highway ( 2 north, 2 south). The motorhome was moving fairly slowly.

Eventually Moe decided to pass him using the slow or right lane. Unfortunately there was a broken-down "B-train" flat-deck semi parked on the shoulder and partially blocking the right lane which Moe had been unaware of because of the Motorhome blocking the sightline. Obviously the motorhome driver knew the semi was there and that was why he was in the left lane instead of the slow lane.

Moe had just enough time apparently to lay his bike down and both him and his bike went under the rear of the rear trailer of the "B-train". According to what the police on scene told Carol Anne , Moe's lay-down maneouvre saved his life for sure.

I don't have a complete report on the extent of his injuries as yet but basically he has lost a ton of skin (was wearing a T-shirt/vest and jeans but not his jacket - temp was in the +30's range), broken bones, possible internal injuries etc... etc..

I will probably be talking to Carol Anne later today as she has gone back to Kamloops for the day today and has not returned as of this posting. Also, I think that Ricardo and Irene are planning on stopping in there on the way back today as well so between the two of us we should get a better feel on extent of injuries --- suffice to say the injuries were quite severe.

Additionally and unofficially, the word is that the broken-down semi had not displayed the proper flashers and warning signals etc that would normally be expected to warn other drivers of the hazardous situation."

So based on what we know so far, let's have a look at the scenario. I love Moe like a brother, but if we dissect the chain of events dispassionately, it is plain that there are four cardinal rules of riding that he broke, which led directly to this accident:

1) Impatience. Riding is all about relaxing. Chilling. To get agitated is to direct your attentions elsewhere than where they are required.

2) Passing on the inside. Even cagers are forbidden from doing so. The law is the same for us and as we can observe, there are some very good reasons for this.

3) Failing to check before proceding to pass. You never swing out to pass, without verifying that the lane is free and clear. Shoulder checks are great, but you really have to know that as you swing out and pick up speed, that there is not something waiting there for you;

4) Dressing for the ride and not for the fall. We are all probably, every single one of us, guilty of this from time to time. It's called playing the stupid game and I myself was caught doing just this a scant 4 weeks ago.

To be truthful, whether the trailer had lights flashing or not, is pretty much a moot point. That may come in handy if someone is trying to split legal hairs in court, but a parked trailer half on the side of the road, is an awfully big thing to 'not see'.

Al followed up his post with the following: "Spoke with Carol Anne after she returned from visiting Moe at the Kamloops hospital and she asked me to pass along the following: Firstly, Moe was in good spirits today and talking about the accident, at least as much of it as he remembers right now. He will probably remain there for at least another week until the medics judge him ok to be transferred closer to home.

She also wants all to know how much she appreciates all the good wishes, offers of support, etc... that all are passing along to Moe. The litany of injuries includes, fractured sternum, several left side broken ribs, cracked ribs on the right side, possible spinal splinters, internal bleeding, possible bruised pancreas, and who knows what else.

She also says that he is already attempting to put "moves" onto the nursing staff - does this surprise anyone ?? Doctors tell her that given time and rehab he should make a good recovery."

Moe is one of those characters who is 'larger than life'. He promotes himself as such and frankly, I like him a lot. He is crusty, cantankerous and feisty enough to guarantee his own recovery, so long as he doesn't figure himself smarter than his doctors. I wish him a speedy and a full recovery, so that both of us might meet up on the road again.

I have recently posted on the same website, a thread entitled simply: "WTF...???". In it, I try to come to grips with this recent upsurge in accidents. Are we simply becoming complacent? Are we relaxing because we made it through the first few months of the riding season, which we consider the most dangerous? For myself, I point out 3 mitigating factors which had I heeded them, could have radically altered the outcome of my own event at that intersection...

1) My speed. I was clipping along at past 70kmh in a 60 zone. Truth be known, it was likely closer to 80kmh. Too fast for coming through an intersection which had left-turning cars stacked up in both directions. Too fast to manoeuvre or evade, should one of them start charging (which of course, one did...).

2) I was travelling in the left-hand lane. Common training dictates that a rider should shift over to the inside lane if clear to do so. This provides added room and precious seconds for evading or manoeuvring, should the need arise. Of course, if a car turns right from the cross-street, blocking your inside lane... you're pretty much fucked.

3) Dressed for the ride, not for the fall... though I doubt any gear could have saved my shoulder from being relocated the way it was.

So what am I saying here? I guess the bottom line is that for as much as those cagers out there are our nemesis and in many cases, are the catalysts for most car/motorcycle accidents, we as riders are not always completely blameless.

At some point we're going to have to step up our game, if we expect to see out the rest of the season from our saddle and not from the sidelines.

1 comment:

Cat Wizard said...

Deep, and very well put together commentary. We as riders test our mortality every time we mount our trusty iron steeds. May we gain years of life from the history we survive, rather than be a footnote on a stats pad.