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Less Than Zero

 I crashed my beautiful red VFR Friday July 3. It happened on the Blue Ridge Parkway  and was witnessed by my friend Angel. I’m glad Angel was there because it was no small task to extract the bike from the brushy incline and wet grass. In fact a big thanks goes out to Angel, a Jeep Owner, and another kindly stranger who helped stop traffic whilst we muscled the VFR upright again.

 So, what happened ? Obviously a skilled experienced pilot such as myself ( ahem) must have faced some type of overwhelming technical challenge or a laser death ray straight out of 1950s comics. Nope. Nothing  dangerously glamorous like watching my Moto-GP heroes crash at warp speed and fly through the air ( high side ) or slide on their backs ( low side ) like some Ninja Turtle. The TV crashes I like to watch have the rider slide, get up, and walk away uninjured. Sometimes there is fist shaking afterwards. My crash was like this.

Turned onto the Parkway from Hwy 181. Headed North. Maybe ½ mile in. While accelerating past 35 mph glanced over at an overlook area. For whatever reason continued glancing backward ( No Hot Chicks just a Harley ) and when I returned my gaze to the road found myself to be on the far right edge. Instead of correcting my position to left of center I froze. Keith Code would refer to this as a Survival Reaction. The bike followed the right edge of the road into a conveniently located rut and onto wet grass. In less time than it takes to type this sentence, I was on the grass with the bike.  Instead of impressing Angel with my wet grass sliding skills, recovering and getting back on the road, I went with plan B. The bike with me on board slithered left right and then flat onto the grass. Kerrr-Whump.

 I extricated myself from beneath the VFR and leapt to my feet, charged with adrenaline. Nothing seemed terribly amiss with me. The VFR lay on it’s right side with the front pointed towards the road and the rear ensnared in vines and grass.

 Two bicyclists happened upon the fresh crash scene. One of them made this inquiry ? “Is that ( my VFR lying on it’s side like a sick horse ) a Ducati ? “ No, it’s a Honda. I would have thought a more appropriate question would have been “Are You OK ?” but this apparently was not a Good-Samaritan cyclist, more like an Asshole-cyclist. Oh well. Earlier this year on a different ride I was temporarily stuck on the side of a country road    ( close to  home ) when an ( asshole ) cyclist said something along the lines of “Next Time Ride a Bike”. Perhaps they were related or this vitriol is something that cyclists have recently been taught to do. Hmmm. Having once avidly ridden pushbikes on and off road, I’m not sure if this was  Karma at work. Not once in this life  have I happened upon a crash scene ( on a bicycle )  and asked what make or model the crashed vehicle was in lieu of proffering assistance. You are supposed to offer assistance first then make any query s about vehicular pedigree afterwards.

Example : “Hi Need any help” ? Later  after the passengers are OK or properly attended to you can opine (as the vehicle is being pulled out of the brush)” I think it probably was a Porsche 930 Turbo because it left the road backwards”.

 

 I wrote earlier about different levels of messing up while on a ride. Let’s have a review of that list.

Understand the limit: Keep riding and smiling. Lets call that a positive one ( +1 )

Misinterpret the limit: Varying degrees of not smiling...

 - 1; Momentarily crossing a double line on an empty road. Only you know you screwed up.

- 2; Momentary crossing into oncoming traffic. Horn blowing and fist waving only. Traumatizing others is anti-social activity !

- 3; Whatever the mistake was, you find it necessary to pull off the road and while stopped, ponder the meaning of life and controlling what you can  for 10 minutes.

- 4; Running off the road, not hitting something, you are ok the bike is ok but, a change of underwear is advisable.

- 5; Running off the road, hitting something , and rendering the bike unrideable while you remain ok.

- 6; Like -5 except you require medical attention and EMS.

 - 13; Running out of room off the road and over a cliff never to be seen or heard of again. I understand this can/has occured at Deal’s Gap.

On every ride my goal is to be +1 all the time.  I have personally also experienced levels  -1, -2,-3,-4  -4C  -4Z.

- 4C; Running off the road,  hitting something, you are ok the bike is not ok but, you can still ride it home. As the result of the “off”, It may be missing body work or you may be riding with recovered damaged body work strapped to the bike. Change of underwear still advisable.

-4Z; Running off the road ( Road Atlanta to be exact ) at a California Superbike School. You run off the track, dump the bike in Red Clay . The unfaired school- provided bike ( 600 Ninja ) is undamaged save for a slightly bent handlebar that gets straightened back at the pit. You don’t get to finish the session and

What we have in this Blue Ridge Parkway situation sounds like a 4C.

 To get the bike pulled out of the tangles required a Jeep, a tow strap and three adults pushing and pulling in a somewhat co-ordinated fashion. After extracting the VFR and parking it on the right edge of the road, I thanked the Good Samaritans. The VFR in typical Honda fashion, started right up and idled fine. Angel wisely suggested that I slowly ride it back to the overlook and then check the damage.

 Damage assessment was as follows.There was a small dent on the gas tank, a crack in the right rear cowling, a bent fairing bracket ( left side ) and the left front lower fairing had some broken tabs along with copious amounts of fine North Carolina dirt packed everywhere. Apparently both sides(Left+Right  fairing ) had seen traumatic force ...wished there had been a video or maybe not. This crash was a category 4C Light. My riding shorts were clean. No body parts were missing  on the VFR or me.

 Guess the ride, now ruined, warranted turning tail and going straight home. Wrong answer. After this “break” in the action we continued with the original travel itinerary. North on the Parkway along the Lynn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain. Off the parkway to Blowing Rock via Hwy 221 which is normally a twisty excellent road but we were inconvenienced by some super slow pick up trucks that should have pulled over for us. Normally this situation would have been handled decisively but, I was  a bit gun shy after my speedway worthy get off.

 Hwy 321 is the direct mostly straight and boring way home . My confidence started coming back which meant at several stop lights we exercised our machines briskly when the lights turned green. I of course needed to exceed 100mph to make sure all systems were properly functioning on the VFR. It was Angel’s first trip to the Parkway...hope he wasn’t too traumatized by my shenanigans. My previously pristine VFR now has some battlescars....and an even  lower opinion of my riding ability. The next morning my right thigh was sore along with a few fingers , and my right forearm had a bruise similar to one from a beating I could have received from my Ex with an extension cord (  I took a picture but, you don’t need to see it... the bruise not the Ex ). Thank You to Dainese and the ATGATT concept. Embrace it.

 My goal when riding is to enjoy and not  crash...or write about crashing  later. In 9 years of SV650S ownership I never did. Have to go back to 2004 when I low-sided and pretty much destroyed cosmetically my 500 Interceptor. That was also a 4C. Rode it home with a bloody knee and a bruised shoulder and a twisted fork.

Ride alert, watch the road. Don’t crash although grass, even wet grass, is preferable to asphalt. Ask me how  I know. The Friday a week before I felt like a Hero as I “dabbed” in front of some digital cameras on the Dragon. Hero to less than Zero in the blink of an eye. A lucky zero.

P.S.Not all bicycle riders are jerks either.

Ok some might be.

 

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Very sorry to hear about the crash, but glad you're okay and that your VFR is mostly okay.  Your post about the whole thing is one of the best I've read in a while.  Kudos to you for having a sense of humor about the unfortunate event.  I've ridden the Skyline Drive and the BRP, and I try not to engage in sightseeing unless I'm stationary, standing separately from my bike, because I'm sure the same would happen to me.

 

Your mishap reminds me a little of a crash in the small group I was with during a Tmac 8-10 years ago.  The group I was with was clearly faster than me, so I was content to hang near or at the back of the group and be the sweeper.  One of the guys in the middle target fixated (I think) and missed a left-hander.  Bike and rider went down onto grass and came to rest in the open, and the rider was okay (in full gear) but the bike must have hit a root or rock because the radiator on that side was damaged.  The rider had to have the radiator repaired locally to even try riding it home from the event.  But it could have been worse.  The bike ended up just a few feet from a pretty steep dropoff into a deep ravine, which had a few trees at the edge.  Had the bike continued down into the ravine, we could not have pulled it out.

 

Hope you can get your VFR back to 100% soon!

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Thanks. It really bothered me for a bit that my bike was no longer perfect but, bodywork can be replaced. I was pretty lucky and it's hard to tell from the photos but the back of the bike was inches from a steep drop off. It could have been much worse.

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Glad you're OK. As a hopefully-non-jerk bicycle rider, I learnt something from MTBing that's helped me a couple of times in "survival freezes" on my VFR. You tend to steer towards what you're looking at, and you tend to look at a source of danger (rut, cliff-edge etc). In my experience, it's easier to force yourself to look towards the safe route (the steering then following by itself) than it is to get your bodyweight and arms to steer you away from the danger.

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Great write up, glad you lived to tell the tale. I think you need to come up with an 'asshole cyclist' snappy comeback for next time you encounter one, delivered so promptly that they can't believe the obvious sarcasm was intentional.

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1-Glad you're okay

2-Glad it isn't a Ducati

3-Appreciate your sense of humor

4-I'm from CLT also and we were out int he same area last Saturday

5-Let me know if you'd like to come out and do a track day with N2; it should cure a rider of looking at any one thing for too long. 🙂

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Glad you are okay. Thanks for posting. For me the greatest takeaway and reminder in your post is 'Ride alert, watch the road'. Easier said than done when riding in an area with beautiful scenery (or nice bikes & fellow bikers).  I have had had many riders recount the same experience to me. 'I took my eyes off the road for just a second and ...........Wham!'.  Fortunately all of them survived unscathed.   As for cyclists, I have had some tell me that riding a push bike gives you the same thrill as riding a motorcycle at speed on a curvy road. LOL! 🙄

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To misquote an oldie but a goodie, "Those who watch the scenery soon become part of it."

 

Funny about the cyclists. Some of those guys are hauling down route 80...but with virtually no gear at all. Which of us is the fool? 🙂

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49 minutes ago, bmart said:

Funny about the cyclists. Some of those guys are hauling down route 80...but with virtually no gear at all. Which of us is the fool? 🙂

I've been riding bicycles for around 30 years, mainly road, but also MTB.  The adrenaline rush of flying down a hill/mountain at 40-50+ mph on such a light machine is unlike much else, but in the back of my brain it's always registered that you're only wearing a helmet, lycra, and fingerless gloves.  Fast forward a year ago when I started riding motorcycles and have always been ATGATT.  The first time I hopped back on my road bike, it was very foreign.  The short wheelbase felt super unstable, not having gear on screwed with my head, and only running on 25mm tires made me overly cautious in the corners coming down the mountain.  Very different world, indeed, but also fun in its own right.

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21 minutes ago, zefram47 said:

I've been riding bicycles for around 30 years, mainly road, but also MTB.  The adrenaline rush of flying down a hill/mountain at 40-50+ mph on such a light machine is unlike much else, but in the back of my brain it's always registered that you're only wearing a helmet, lycra, and fingerless gloves.  Fast forward a year ago when I started riding motorcycles and have always been ATGATT.  The first time I hopped back on my road bike, it was very foreign.  The short wheelbase felt super unstable, not having gear on screwed with my head, and only running on 25mm tires made me overly cautious in the corners coming down the mountain.  Very different world, indeed, but also fun in its own right.

I have a mirror image experience in this regard.  After 25 years of long distance moto commuting, roadracing, etc, I got into road cycling.  And descending at 40+ in a leotard, I was very conscious of the fact that any of a number of things that can put me on the ground would guarantee a terrible time and a certain trip to the emergency room.

 

In contrast, of my many (I estimate 15, but I lost track) street/track/ADV moto crashes, none have resulted in an ambulance ride or external bleeding, and that includes a lowside on a fluid spill at over 100 entering the back straight (I believe it was turn 10 at the time, perhaps reconfigured nowadays) at Sears Pt and bodily sliding into a previously crashed bike.

 

Curiously, the roadbike lycra experience got me to relax the ATGATT.  I felt hypocritical bombing down twisties in a leotard one day, and in a space suit on the very same twisties the next.  So when I moved and stopped moto commuting and started riding street bikes for pleasure only, I went with light ADV/enduro gear with an emphasis on comfort and heat tolerance, to reduce fatigue.  That's been a good call so far, but admittedly I have bruised the shit out of my hip (wearing enduro pants, no hip armor) low-speed highsiding my 1200GS in dried mud ruts left behind by jeeps.  Still, I'll take that over the misery of wrestling a 600 lb bike offroad in a space suit.

 

Currently running some mix of enduro / Mosko Basilisk / BMW Rallye / Aerostich Darien gear, all with Gaerne trials boots.  Fantastic boots, soft enough for light hiking.  (And I ride trials as well, so the boots see their "intended application" also).  German-made Daytona TransOpen GTX, I think the model is called, are also excellent.  Logged a couple decades and a couple hundred K miles commuting and touring in those.

 

Glad to hear the OP had a valuable learning experience with mild consequences.  I hope she "buffs right out" and continues to provide years of fun, as these awesome VFRs do.

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I did a ton of cycling in my teens through mid-20s.  Never had a serious crash, just a few bumps, bruises, and scrapes.  The posts above about high speed descents brings this to mind:

 

There was a bridge (I think it went over railroad tracks) in my hometown that had a very steep descent headed out of the downtown area.  I used to get a huge thrill going down that hill on my road bike, easily hitting 30-40 mph or higher.  But when I look back at it now I was such an idiot.  There was at least one cross-street at the bottom of that bridge, plus parking lots for various small businesses there.  If a car or truck had ever pulled out in front of me - and we all know it's harder to judge the speed of smaller oncoming vehicles - there is no chance I could have stopped in time.  I'd have been seriously injured or even killed, even with a proper cycling helmet on, which I always wore.

 

Recently I ventured back onto a bicycle for the first time in years.  I have to admit I was kind of nervous, feeling rather unprotected with just a helmet and gloves on for 'gear.'  I'd like to get back into it, but I don't relish the idea of riding on the street, which is ironic considering all my motorcycling is street only, though I'm usually ATGATT minus actual riding pants (just jeans for me).  There's a nice paved non-motorized vehicle path that goes through my town.  I think that's more my speed right now.

 

Sorry for the threadjack, but at least we're talking two wheels!  😉 

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I,m not going to chastise anyone for talking up the pushbike thing. Up to 5 years ago I split my time between bicycles and motorcycles. I got lazy. A fast descent on a tricky single track or on pavement can be as fun as riding challenging twisties like moonshiner. I wave at pretty much anything on 2 wheels and many pushbike riders wave back....except for my antagonists in the story of course. Pedal On ! 

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Surviving a crash is number 1, bikes can be fixed.

Glad your OK and weren't doing a much higher speed which the BRP is good for!

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I'm still riding the same  Klein mountain bike I bought in 95.  Riding a pedal bike will make you a better motorcycle rider.  Glad you were ok.  Thanks for posting pics of the VFR napping.

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1 hour ago, Sparkie said:

I'm still riding the same  Klein mountain bike I bought in 95.  Riding a pedal bike will make you a better motorcycle rider.  Glad you were ok.  Thanks for posting pics of the VFR napping.

I have a Klein Quantum II road bike from '96. Those things were revolutionary in their time - the first manufacturer to use large diameter aluminum tubing on a bike. The quality and fit & finish were unreal - almost like a piece of art.  Gary Klein used a paint called "Durathane", which I read once cost about $1,000 per gallon. It's tough as nails and after years of riding it doesn't have a chip anywhere. Still has an incredible gloss after 20+ years.  He apparently recruited some of his welders from Boeing - the quality of the welds shows it.   Haven't ridden it much recently - it's at a point now where I'd hate to have something happen to it, so maybe will find a used Klein or other beater to ride instead.  A few years ago I went by the former Klein factory in Chehalis, WA - it's now houses a distributor of industrial pipe. 

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When my daughter first started riding I jokingly told her the first thing you do when you crash is take a picture. Well, she eventually did and yes she did.[emoji16] Glad to see someone else sees it the same way. If nobody’s hurt might as well document as a reminder.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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10 hours ago, Cogswell said:

I have a Klein Quantum II road bike from '96. Those things were revolutionary in their time - the first manufacturer to use large diameter aluminum tubing on a bike. The quality and fit & finish were unreal - almost like a piece of art.  Gary Klein used a paint called "Durathane", which I read once cost about $1,000 per gallon. It's tough as nails and after years of riding it doesn't have a chip anywhere. Still has an incredible gloss after 20+ years.  He apparently recruited some of his welders from Boeing - the quality of the welds shows it.   Haven't ridden it much recently - it's at a point now where I'd hate to have something happen to it, so maybe will find a used Klein or other beater to ride instead.  A few years ago I went by the former Klein factory in Chehalis, WA - it's now houses a distributor of industrial pipe. 

 

Not ride it so that when you're gone, it ends up in a skip or on Ebay??? :laugh:

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@RC79NC001 great shots!!!

 

 

I concur that not all bicyliclist are jerks; I ride one each week...... 

And after a crash on my 4th gen they helped me as well

 

 

See that left turn in the top left corner at the farm? 

fark.thumb.jpg.e191b96afa6d1386fa631dc726bd53a8.jpg

 

Riding "spiritly" on a dike, I see an elderly couply approaching on bicycles, the man "wobbling"a bit. So I keep an eye on them as I approach them.  The road ahead appears to go straight.

As I've passed the couple, my full attention goes to the road ahead.....   OOOOPS....  it drops away to the left, I slam the brakes, turn in but -you recognise this bit- I ran out of road and onto the grass.

As the VFR slides away under me and spins, I recall "CROSS YOUR ARMS!!!"...

The farmer's wife and 2 guys on sport bicycles help me get the VFR back on the road.

 

 

HPIM2699.thumb.JPG.05e0c4009ad60842a2016c70f04b0f45.JPG

 

The farmer's wife did comment:

"you are not the first and won't be that last to go down in this corner

 

"I can see you weren't going too fast or braked really well. Most of the time we collect man and machine from the gate/barbed wire 3 metres down at the bottom"

 

 

 

 

 

In the end, it was a bit af ABS, a sprained ankle and a bit of pride

HPIM2702.thumb.JPG.82fa5b8a428fec25137acfb5f4feeaf6.JPG

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the club!

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dutchy said:

@RC79NC001 great shots!!!

 

 

I concur that not all bicyliclist are jerks; I ride one each week...... 

And after a crash on my 4th gen they helped me as well

 

 

See that left turn in the top left corner at the farm? 

fark.thumb.jpg.e191b96afa6d1386fa631dc726bd53a8.jpg

 

Riding "spiritly" on a dike, I see an elderly couply approaching on bicycles, the man "wobbling"a bit. So I keep an eye on them as I approach them.  The road ahead appears to go straight.

As I've passed the couple, my full attention goes to the road ahead.....   OOOOPS....  it drops away to the left, I slam the brakes, turn in but -you recognise this bit- I ran out of road and onto the grass.

As the VFR slides away under me and spins, I recall "CROSS YOUR ARMS!!!"...

The farmer's wife and 2 guys on sport bicycles help me get the VFR back on the road.

 

 

HPIM2699.thumb.JPG.05e0c4009ad60842a2016c70f04b0f45.JPG

 

The farmer's wife did comment:

"you are not the first and won't be that last to go down in this corner

 

"I can see you weren't going too fast or braked really well. Most of the time we collect man and machine from the gate/barbed wire 3 metres down at the bottom"

 

 

 

 

 

In the end, it was a bit af ABS, a sprained ankle and a bit of pride

HPIM2702.thumb.JPG.82fa5b8a428fec25137acfb5f4feeaf6.JPG

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the club!

 

 

 

 

Leon, you live in the Netherlands. I would be shocked if you did not ride a bicycle!  😀

Ross

 

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Here's a low res photo that gives a better prespective of the slope behind the VFR. Less than a foot behind the bike it drops off pretty dramatically. It's good to be lucky sometimes.

slope.jpg

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21 minutes ago, RC79NC001 said:

Here's a low res photo that gives a better prespective of the slope behind the VFR. Less than a foot behind the bike it drops off pretty dramatically. It's good to be lucky sometimes.

slope.jpg

Yeah, that drop looks like a proper dyke over here!  

 

 

 

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Glad you're OK.  The Blueridge is a great place to ride or drive slow.  I'd like to do it again with the spousal unit.  We've done it before and find it hard to drive fast the scenery is so good.   It's also a great place to get a FEDERAL speeding ticket.  Those boys tend to take no prisoners.   Speaking of bicycles, I rode my new Trek carbon fiber hard last Saturday then rode the VFR hard Sunday and am paying for it today.  Fun doesn't suck though, LOL!

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I also congratulate you on your survival. And I can appreciate every aspect of your event, having done the same thing at a Hog Tie rallye. I even have the tee shirt: "Crashing Sucks!"

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