What Would You Have Done?
July 2008 and I'm on my way to the BMW MOA rally in Gillette, Wyoming. Beartooth Pass road is narrow and twisty, but excellent surface and NO kicked up gravel or left over sand from the winter. I'm on this tour from British Columbia with a few other riders from our local club, but we know where we will meet up and make no effort to keep each other in sight. I'm probably the slowest rider and happily trail the others, even stopping to put on a rain jacket when I started to feel a bit cold.
All is well until I crest a hill in the left tire track and suddenly see not only a lane to my right to pull off for a view-point but also THE ONLY passing lane coming toward me. The problem is that there is a bike in that passing lane, coming around a curve, and his rear tire is sliding out into my lane!
What I did (still not sure if this was the best maneuver) was to point my bike to the right hand edge of my lane then get hard on the brakes. When I looked back at the sliding bike, his rear tire had now slid to the right side. Then it suddenly hooked up and his bike darted at me. When the collision occured, both of us were probably going less than 5 mph, but it was close to a head-on collision. The crash bar on his 1200GS hit my radiator then my crash bar which hit my leg. We both fell over to the right. Fortunately, nobody drove over our bodies. We pick ourselves up, get the damaged bikes off the road, and only then have the time to think WTF happened?
What happened was that the road crew which which had done such an excellent job of sweeping off the winter sand in both directions (this passing lane was about in the middle) failed to sweep off the sand - exactly the same color as the road surface - in this passing lane which started in a curve!
I learned a lot about the guy who hit me as we shared a rental car ride to the nearest city with an airport. (My bike was totalled, his eventually repaired.) He was an experienced rider with dirt experience as well. When his back tire unexpectedly slid out, he counter-steered and didn't chop the throttle. We would both have been fine except for a bit of clear pavement at exactly the wrong place.
I'm not at all pissed about the guy who hit me (and his insurance did cover me - bike, gear, airfare home, physio.) I'm a bit more pissed about the helpful cop who got us into a motel room but later never returned my phone calls and emails. I'm still really pissed that a friend who made it to the rally said the sand was still there when he came back over the same route several days later! I wonder how many MC crashes occured on that small bit of road. Seems to me gross negligence and the insurance companies should be sueing somebody.
I welcome your opinions - especially how I could have avoided the crash. That is ALWAYS the way to go if you can.