The Wreck--Part Two
Right after climbing up a series of steep but fast uphill twisties just south of the Buffalo Fork River on a well-graded gravel road called the Turpin Meadows Road, I reached a flat, straight stretch of road. I slowed down to about 30mph and began to cruise leisurely towards the intersection with U.S. Rt. 26 which was about one mile south.
My front wheel rolled over a small rock in the middle of the roadway, a rock that was no different than maybe 100 others I'd rolled over that day, and 100's of others I roll over every day I ride on backcountry roads. I even went back later to get a picture of this rock, and you can see that the grader has actually ground it down so that it almost even with the roadbed--
For whatever reason, this bump dislodged the ball joint from the lower fork bridge. The forks immediately slid forward as the telelever came crashing down on the front tire, trapping it and causing the front tire to begin skidding. The sudden deceleration combined with the collapse of the front end threw me forward toward the windscreen.
The front wheel then dished to the left all the way to the steering stop causing the telelever to drop another couple of inches and re-seize the tire. Now the bike started skidding left and my weight was thrown towards the sidecar. As I attempted to regain my balance, the motorcycle left the roadbed. First the front wheel went over the edge of the embankment, then the skidplate struck the ground, then the whole outfit skewed around 180 degrees from the original direction of travel as the sidecar flipped up in the air. The outfit then did a half flip, throwing Kirby clear, but throwing me to the ground before the rig landed on top of me.
Later, I went back and measure the front wheel skid. Here it is--
It was 50 feet from the stone bump to the exit. At a starting speed of 30mph, and a estimated exit speed of 20mph, this means that I went airborne off the side of the road about 1.3 seconds after hitting that bump. In other words, this whole thing happened in the blink of an eye! One second I'm toot-tooting along with not a care in the world, the next second I'm face first in the dirt about 8 vertical feet below the roadway with the rig on top of me.
The Wreck--Part Three
As the rig plunged off the side of the road and down the short embankment, I was thrown face first to the ground about 8 feet (vertically) from the road while Kirby was catapulted into the bushes some distance away. The upside down rig then landed on top of me impacting mostly on my left leg below the knee and the right side of my ribcage and shoulder. The wind got knocked out of me. I don't know if you've ever had your wind knocked out, but for me what happens is my brain retreats into a very primitive place where it is not aware of anything except for the need to breathe--no sensation of time, no sensation of pain, no vision, no awareness of my surroundings.
When I started breathing again, my vision returned, I crawled out from under and got to my hands and knees, then looked around. There was Kirby standing inches away staring intently at me! Next thing I did was to lay down on the top of the skid plate and carefully reaching down I found the keys, turned off the ignition, and removed the keys. Then I found my way up to the road.
About a half hour later a young couple from Boulder CO came by in their Subaru station wagon stuffed to the roof with their two young kids and camping gear for a week-long vacation. Somehow they made room for me and Kirby but there was no room for any of my stuff. I had to leave my CPAP equipment behind (which I sorely missed the next two days) and all my gear. But the rig was very difficult to see from the road so I thought there was a good chance that it would remain unmolested until I could return. If you were driving past here at 35 mph you'd never notice anything--
This young couple then drove me to the hospital in Jackson about an hour away. Leaving me there, they took Kirby and their kids and went in search of some dinner. They returned around 8:30pm to report that they had not been able to find a motel anywhere near Jackson so they had to go find a campsite somewhere. They planned to leave Kirby at the local shelter
! I did not hear this directly from them--they told this to my emergency room nurse, Kristen.
They had Kirby on a leash as they spoke to Kristen outside the emergency room entrance. Well, if Kirby is anything, he's a lady killer. He took one look at Kristen and started putting on all his best moves. Kristen of course was immediately smitten (really, she never had a chance!) and so she took Kirby from the young couple, called her husband on her cell, and had him come to the hospital to fetch the K-man. Kirby spent the next two days at her house entertaining her two daughters. Here's Kristen and one of her daughters two days later when she brought Kirby back--
I was in the emergency room for about 5 hours (there's always lots of idle time in an emergency room) and had time to make some calls. Called my wife, my buddy Snooker in Boulder, my other buddy Boxertwin in Boise, the County Sheriff, and Progressive Insurance. The Sheriff's Deputy came and interviewed me there at the hospital, wrote up his report, and wished me luck. Progressive got to work finding a tow truck. Snooker got onto ADV and asked around to see if there were any inmates near Jackson who could lend a hand. My wife called BT and the two of them started making plans.
After the x-rays and CT scan came back showing no internal injuries and no broken bones, an orderly took me in a wheelchair two blocks down the street from the hospital to the Hitching Post Lodge where Kristen had made arrangements for a room (no dogs allowed.) I was able to walk a few steps at a time, but the chest injury stole my breath and I got winded after about 10 steps so could not walk there on my own.
Boxertwin, bless his heart, dropped everything, hooked up his flatbed trailer to his Chevy Suburban, and the next morning headed to Jackson--a 7-hour drive! BT arrived in Jackson that next evening, and the following morning at 8am--about 39 hours after the accident--he and I met up with the tow truck driver Steve that Progressive had gotten for me and we drove together to the wreck site to recover the rig.
As soon as we arrived, BT and I scrambled down to the wreck (I was floating on Percoset.) At this point I did not know what had happened, just that something had broken, and I wanted to verify that it was not some sort of driver error that my mind had erased from my memory. Within 15 seconds of getting to the rig, BT and I discovered the separated ball joint (click to see short vid)--
I asked Steve to be as gentle as possible in the recovery because I felt that the rig was perhaps not totaled (1-minute vid)--
Once the rig was topside, we stripped off all the bags and panniers, etc, then we loaded the rig onto BT's trailer--
Then we drove to Jackson to get Kirby then on to Boise where I spent the night at BT's house with my wife who had made the 9-hour trip from Tacoma. We left the rig in Boise and drove back to Tacoma the next day.
I can't tell you how grateful I am to Boxertwin for coming to my rescue. I was banged up, barely able to get around, and not totally in command of my faculties. He sized up the situation for me, took charge, organized everything, and executed my rescue. You guys can only hope to have friend like Boxertwin!
Here's to Boxertwin!