Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Got Into Heavy Metal this Summer

A little over a month ago I picked up some unwanted metallic road material.  I had about 7500 miles on the tire since May and as you can see I managed to get some miles on this screw too.  That's because I didn't realize it was there until later that night when I went into the garage for something and noticed my rear tire looked low.
I got to thinking about my day and where I might have picked up the screw.  The last place I left before heading home was this yard at Portland School District.  Of course it could've been lurking anywhere on the road but I'll be watching this yard a little more closely.

It's kind of interesting to think that I was leaning like normal on all the curves on I-5 between downtown and our house.  Thankfully I made it home before the tire went flat.

An engineer at one of the hospitals in Portland was returning home a few weeks ago from a 10 day road trip in Canada with some friends.  They were just outside Wenatchee, WA and he was in the lead on his 09 Honda ST1300.  At this point when he tells the story he says he was on the downhill side of a hill.  He noticed something ambling on the side of the road but it didn't register with him what it was.  As he kept watching, it made a change in course and was now heading to cross the road.  About the time he thought to himself, "That's a bear!"... he hit it.

The next guy behind him was near the top of the hill and had a panoramic view of the whole incident.  He would later say that it looked like the two of them were on tracks and were meant to collide.  This is what we all learned in our motorcycle safety class as "target fixation".  I'm thinking though that it would be pretty hard not look at a bear ambling on the side of the road.  Probably the best bet would be to slow way down or even stop.

After the impact the motorcycle low-sided. The rider separated from the bike and did a combination of sliding, rolling, and basically flying around like a rag-doll.  The guy who had the view said he thought he was dead.  He said the bear was knocked into the air and landed back on the side of the road. He attempted to get up then fell back down and died.

The rider was very fortunate.  He broke his throttle wrist, cracked a rib, and his big toe on his left foot was swollen.  All of his gear did the job it was intended to do including his Draggin' Jeans with Kevlar inserts. He has a plate in his wrist and is looking forward to riding again.

When you think back on close calls that you've had in life do you sometimes wonder how you managed to get through them?  I've had at least two incidents where I shouldn't be here and those weren't on a motorcycle.  And then there are countless close calls we're not even aware of. 

Anyway, keep checking your tires and watch for furry critters along the roadside.

God's speed.


  1. Oh wow Mike - glad you were kept safe.

    by the way - my first thought when I saw the heavy metal was music - and I thought that the music would be better than a nail in my tire - but then again - i can't stand that kind of music!!

    Sorry you had that happen!

  2. Stacey,
    Thank you. I was playing around a little with the title. I'm not a heavy metal guy either. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I had a nail in my Suzuki once, but fortunately it didn't lose air and we noticed it as it was sitting in the garage. On the other hand, I don't really know how long it may have been in there.

    Most of my close calls, I didn't have time do anything. It was over before I could react. I have been three cars wide on a 2-lane road - that was a little exciting (they were passing). Of course the ones I don't know about...I didn't do anything. :)

  4. Kari,
    You "nailed" it! Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun. The nail in your Suzuki tire was unknown until you saw it. We naturally don't do anything about unknown hazards yet they exist. Without getting too philosophical, it's interesting how most things seem to hold together when all the while I think I'm holding it all together.

    Three cars wide on a 2-lane road seems kind of daring for you. :)

  5. I had a nail once but never hit a bear!! I did however hit a cardboard box. It was that or a was a pretty flat box so no issue with that. It's good when you have to experience something challenging and it turns out ok in the end.

  6. Hi Eve,
    Yeah, hitting a bear would be rare I think. Although here in the Northwest we didn't have the blackberry crop like usual and they say that bears are foraging in different areas.

    Watch out for that road debris!