Our day started out pretty early. We were meeting at 9:00 AM, so I went to the store early to get my usual pre-ride breakfast of gravy biscuits, 2 eggs, and a piece of sausage. It might be gas station food, but it is actually really good.
By the time I finished breakfast my friend Lanny and his buddy Wade were pulling in. Lanny is on his V-Strom 1000 and Wade was riding an ST1300. I was on my FZ1 for this ride.
We hung out for a few minutes getting to know each other and discussing routes. Lanny was leading our ride and this is where he took us:
Many of these roads were familiar to me. Stretch and I had ridden a few of them on our way to 3 Rivers. We were really enjoying our ride and then we took a couple of turns and ran into some rough road conditions and loose gravel everywhere. We slowed down a bit to accommodate for the less than ideal conditions. It was hard to find a good pace not knowing what was waiting around the corner for you. By the time we made it to Tanassee Gap Road the gravel was being deposited in random spots. We were about half way through the road when we came around a tight uphill right hand curve and I saw Lanny stand it up and then lay it down!
My heart started racing! If you recall, just a couple of months earlier I had a friend go down and break his leg. I was very concerned for Lanny and as soon as I got stopped I got over there to help him out. Within seconds me and Wade were by his side helping him get his bike up and check himself for injury. As it turns out, Lanny’s back tire started sliding in the gravel. He stood it up to scrub some speed and then laid it down in the grass. I don't know if he meant to do all that, but if you have to lay your bike down, he did it in a skillful way.
Lanny was shaking from adrenaline but he was OK! Thank the Lord he was OK! He got a few bruises, but it was a perfect scene to justify ATGATT. His Olympia Jacket only got a scuff on the sleeve. As Lanny was calming down and gathering his wits, Wade and I were getting cars to slow down and then we started looking at the accident scene. About 6 feet from where the Strom came to a stop the ditch dropped off over a foot and was filled with RipRap rocks. That would have been very bad for Lanny and his bike. I am glad he stopped when he did. The bike only suffered minor cosmetic damage. The color panels on his Givi side bag was scratched up and the Givi crash bars lost a little paint, but they did their job effectively.
We hung out for about 45 minutes to make sure Lanny was calmed back down and to make sure he was in good shape. He decided he wanted to continue so we started back into the twisties. I probably don’t have to tell you that our pace was slower and Lanny was thrown off his game a bit. He is a very good rider and while this was only our second ride together I had observed his riding style and until very late in the afternoon you could tell tight curves and road debris were still messing with him. He made a good decision and relaxed his pace to match his feelings. Don't ever push it if it doesn't feel right!
We worked our way to Caffe’ Rel for lunch and to rehash all the events of the day. At lunch I got to know Wade a bit better and I can thank motorcycling for introducing me to another friend. You meet the nicest people on a Honda.
After lunch we headed back towards home and took a route that brought us over Cedar Mountain. This is when the next close call happened from yours truly. Recently, when I take that route I have been taking the small cut over to Hwy 8 on my way home. As my wife will attest I am often on autopilot and my routes are driven out of habit. (Maybe that’s why I am so bad with directions). I was in the lead for this part of our ride and we were planning on stopping at the bottom of Cedar Mountain for one last break before heading home. Well, as I came around that curve I took the cutover to Hwy 8 and I realized what I had done just after it was too late. I started to try and make the curve, but I was going too fast for that. Now I am riding in that big white striped area and I have my brakes on hard! In hindsight, it was all very stupid. I could have just taken the turn and safely turned around. Instead, that moment of indecision nearly caused me to have an accident. As I was trying to stop I realized I locked my rear wheel up so I let off the rear brake. This is the first time I have ever done that at speed and some of you know that when you let the brake off you get the wobbles. Those kinds of wobbles can cause a high side if you don’t let the bike settle itself. It all happened so fast that I never really felt out of control, but Lanny and Wade will tell you that it certainly looked out of control. I managed to get stopped and turn around and catch up to Lanny and Wade and the predetermined rest stop.
I was a little embarrassed and grateful that it all worked out. It was an eventful day and I am glad that everyone rode away in one piece.
What I Learned:
- It is interesting that you can tell how a riding buddy feels judging by his riding style.
- A split second of indecision can be very dangerous on a motorcycle. You have to be present at all times.
Matthew 14:31 "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,“ he said, “why did you doubt?”"
This verse is in reference to the Bible story where Peter joined Jesus to walk on water. Peter was able to walk on the water until he had a split second doubt in his faith and he started sinking. That moment of indecision was bad for Peter too. I pointed out a time when my indecision was nearly painful in the story.
Have you ever had a time when indecision caused you a problem? Have you gotten better at being decisive through your life experiences?