6.27.2010

How Not to Stop a Motorcycle



   Two-thirty a.m. came too quickly. I unwrapped myself from bed and lifted into partial consciousness. The wind had calmed and I felt a little better after three hours' sleep. One banana and an oatmeal Clif bar put just enough weight in my stomach to stave off the morning's chill. I rode eighty-five miles an hour back to town, the Dipper and the North Star low in front. I was glad for the music I'd brought and I cleared the first 50 miles in record time.

   I was nearing the highway and slowed a touch to 70. The streetlights disappeared and the road grew dark. I knew the highway was coming but couldn't yet see the intersection. I should have slowed down, but haste and sleep deprivation hung heavy. Suddenly a red flash appeared on the road. A twisted stop sign, torn or pried from it's usual post at the highway junction, lay on the ground.

   I was still cruising near 65 mph. I'd been relying on the sign to alert me to the coming of the road. It was too late and I was moving too fast. I slammed on both brakes but the highway was already below me. The bike went sideways in a slide, the rear tire flipping out to the right.

   I knew I could clamp the brakes harder, stopping but probably toppling the bike, or I could ride out the slide, staying up but skidding sidelong across the highway's four lanes. I had only a moment to decide. I could see no oncoming headlights to my sides. I took a deep breath and slid the rear tire hard. The bike flailed, but stayed up, and I smeared the tires across the length road.

   I slid the entire distance and then some. The smoking tires came to a sudden halt, stopping just short of the train tracks on the opposite side. Finally, all was still again. I cut the engine and breathed deeply, listening to the quiet of the night. 'Jeeeesus!' I shouted into my helmet.

   It was the closest I'd ever come to a wreck. I'd skid across the road, half-expecting the crush of a sidelong blow. A fast-flying drunk, or a roaring 18-wheeler, perhaps. Luck, and a lot of (now worthwhile) skid practice, had done me well. I made it to the next town without much time to dwell on the close call. I fired up Jaybird again and put the Dipper in front of me.

   The remaining 50 miles felt like a gift.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, Cyrus. I'm kind of sorry I read this post. But of course I'm happy that all was well. Please, please, take care of yourself. We miss you and need you to come home safely!

    ReplyDelete
  2. well written. glad your ok

    ReplyDelete