Here is an entry I jotted down in my journal a few days ago . . . I have finally reached the point where I could think rationally about it and clean up the writing, and basically am having a lazy day today, so I thought I would post it here . . .
Today as I was headed out on the Valkyrie to pick up some parts for the wife’s Olds (DO NOT get me started on that POS) I was approaching the stoplight at Arapaho and Jupiter. Typical two street intersection, each street 3 lanes in each direction (divided).
I had the green, and was not blocked from view by any leading cars.
Oncoming fast car entered her left turn lane closely followed by two others. They were really moving . . . probably 20mph over the 40mph speed limit. Although they were slowing, instinct (my little voice basically said “Holy SH!T”) told me she was not going to stop and yield the right of way to me (I was proceeding straight through the intersection).
Time slows to a crawl. Icy calm clamps down. Heart rate climbs to unhealthy levels. Adrenalin flows. Massive strength is readily available. I feel I could crush bricks with my bare hands. “The Dragon” and I merge and become one.
This is the classic left turn motorcycle killer, except there was absolutely no obstruction to anyone’s vision. These morons are the reason the law requires us to have a headlight on all the time. Fat lot of good that does . . . People gotta look up every once and a while . . .
I pulled an extreme braking/evasive trick and ended up stopped in the intersection–kind of right in the middle. The Dragon is graceful and responsive under pressure. I am a big and strong guy, and the Valk and I mesh together well. Barely missed the errant car, and the driver was looking at me wide-eyed as she passed by.
Sheesh. Bad enough, but the car following her was blissfully unaware that he should also yield to oncoming traffic that has the green. “Holy sh!t” says the little voice again. I am stopped in the exact center of the entire intersection . . . the place that no car ever occupies if everyone is doing everything right, so I am no longer a factor. There are other cars behind me however . . . The oncoming turner is apparently fixated on the preceding car and is not paying attention. He barely clears me (I do not think he ever saw me) and creams the car that was passing by me in the center lane through the intersection. Pretty much a head-on . . . I get sprayed with flying glass and gasoline, and got a very good close up view of the ass end of his car as it “whooshes” by me in an arc spewing gas, but fortunately get missed by all the heavier bits randomly traveling about the intersection. Brrrrr . . . I can still read you his license plate number . . . it is etched into my brain.
Now I have had enough adventure for one day, but like lemmings over a cliff the third oncoming car also turns left. At least he manages at the last second to notice the carnage in his path, but that is bad for me, as he starts to swing wide to get around the mess and is moving too fast to stop. That puts me square in his sights. Tires are screeching. I can clearly see his face. I know he is going to hit me, he knows he is going to hit me, and he knows that I know that he is going to hit me. This is going to hurt.
I am a small plane pilot, and one of the things I learned in my training, is that you ALWAYS make a decision. Right, wrong, whatever . . . when things are coming to a lurch MAKE A DECISION—Take action. Anything will be an improvement over the decision that will be made for you if you do not do so.
Also, my Texas upbringing says no matter how hopeless something seems, never, NEVER, quit. Basically, never stop driving. Lot’s of people freeze when they know the shit is about to hit the fan. What they need to realize is that there are times when nothing you can do can possibly make the situation worse. By defination, that means that anything you do can make the situation better . . .
So . . . That’s it, I’m outta here . . . .
Wrapped up the RPM’s and popped the clutch. Did not really care which direction I took off in . . . anything was better than what was coming.
ZZZZZAAAAAPPPPPSSSCREACH!!! “The Dragon” roared. Jheeez what a bike! She is alive folks . . . there is no other explanation for the union between myself and the machine. Warp/pop (space time thingy) and suddenly (poof) I am in the parking lot of the McDonalds/Chevron across the intersection. I remember NOTHING between popping the clutch, and putting my foot down in the parking lot. The car never touched me.
I very carefully shut the Valk off with the kill switch (there is less gas dripping from there than elsewhere). I am praying for no sparks. Now that I was out of danger the adrenaline was exacting its price for the enhanced senses and reactions before, and due to the shakes and weakness I was unable to try to lift my left foot even enough to put the stand down or I would have dropped the bike. It was all I could do for the moment to stand there holding the bike up and breathe. Takes me a good two minutes to clear my vision (and moderate the shakes) enough to get off the bike. I was wearing a full face helmet, but had the face shield open (I have a Memphis Shades on my standard and it was gorgeous today). I have glass and gas all over me.
The calvery has arrived (Richardson has GREAT ems response times) and is starting to take care of the mess of the two cars in the intersection. All the other involved parties (first and last turner) bugged out. The @ssholes.
Got some paper towels off the gas pump rack and tried to get the glass and gas off me. Nobody using the service station would look at me. I think it was obvious I needed some help. Whatever they are putting in the gas lately, it really BURNS the ur . . . more sensitive areas of one’s anatomy. Not much to do about it at the moment except grimace and curse. Have some very minor scratches on my arms from the glass, but they bled a lot as glass cuts do, and the gas made them sting furiously.
I am sure I was a sight. The occasional expletive forcefully and involuntarily uttered probably shooed some folks off. Some folks are just a bit timid when a 300-pound, adrenalin fired, shaking, bloodied, gasoline soaked biker is stomping around. The toughest thing was that I had glass in my helmet padding around the face, and really needed to pick it out before removing the helmet, but I could not see and to my embarrassment my hands were still shaking.
I honestly can say the shakes were not fear. I am fairly un-phased about the close call, but the high adrenalin kick really does exact a terrible price later . . . if you have never experienced this it is difficult to describe . . . suffice to to say then when the adrenalin kicks in, you WILL do something, and when it is over you WILL have a few moments where you are all but incapacitated.
After I managed to see clearly again (gasoline is not a good substitute for eyedrops) a police officer approaches to check on me. He helps me get the bigger shards out of the padding around my face and then I can remove my helmet. About this time a rather timid lady hesitantly hands me her bottled water and a napkin. Finally! Somebody with her wits about her. I’d have kissed her full on the mouth if I could have seen her clearly, but instead I thank her profusely and immediately upend the half the bottle of water directly into my open eyes (by now red and swollen). I use the rest and the napkin to swab my face and eyelids off. What a relief!
The officer had been in the parking lot across the street watching for redlight runners and saw the entire thing. He said he could see exactly what was happening, and was on the radio calling “Motorcycle rider down” before the thing was half over with. I am very glad to prove him wrong.
Claims I am the best MC rider he has ever seen. Apparently I wheelied across the intersection threading between other moving cars and entered the parking lot at a very high speed. He said I was moving so fast that he was sure I was going to run the Valk right through the building. That would give a new meaning to “drive through” at the McDonalds I guess. But to his surprise I stopped under complete control in a very short space. He was really impressed with the Valk. (So am I)
I would not presume to argue with a police officer (those that know me recognize that as humor) . . . he can believe I am the best if he wants to . . . but between us, really I am not the best, I am lucky. To a certain extent, we make our own luck. I do have and hone my riding skills, but nothing I did was planned out in advance. Time had run out for that. Trust in your instincts, skills, faith, and luck. Never quit.
The two cars were toast, and both drivers went away in the ambulances, but were conscious and walking. Probably not seriously injured.
As for The Dragon, she got carefully and cheerfully washed and waxed, and we treated ourselves to a 100-mile ride to nowhere in this gorgeous weather. The repairs on the wife’s cage could wait. We have a limited number of days in this world. Let’s ride.