Hauling ass in Big Iron…pouring rain and the dark of night but lively traffic…coming over the top of the “High 5″…the 180-foot high, steeply banked speed-sweep from eastbound I-635 to northbound US-75. Just as I hit the apex of the turn and started down the steep incline the traffic shut down .
Should be okay…I leave plenty of room in these conditions…
I got on the brakes and started decelerating as I headed down the grade…judging the distance and feathering the brakes to the task. Long habits and the vulnerabilities encountered on a motorcycle carry over to my cage piloting so I spared a glance for the rear-views.
The semi behind me wasn’t so alert. He was still coming hard. A glance ahead…the traffic was moving a bit…but I didn’t think he was going to stop with enough room for me in front of him. Especially if we never got started…ur…stopping. Yanno?
Off the brakes…tapping them to flash the lights and hope it alerted him…then back on. No sense crashing into the traffic ahead without HIS assistance.
It worked…he was slowing. We might even make it. I increased the pressure.
Then he broke lose…the cab and trailer at odds on what direction they were planning on heading.
Off the brakes again…as stout as Big Iron is…getting crushed under a jack-knifed semi isn’t going to work out well for me. Neither would getting smashed over the simple concrete Jersey barrier…there’s a near 200 foot drop on the other side. Pretty sure the bomb (airbag) in my steering wheel would be little help in that impact.
Shit. I just painted this thing too.
At what had to be the last possible second, the semi driver saved it…straightened up and took the left lane. I quickly took the right, avoiding him rear-ending me by a matter of feet.
But now I was out of space. Nothing left to do…and no place to go.
Hard on the brakes…I felt the anti-locks kick in. Doesn’t happen often…I try to navigate in ways that don’t require the deployment of last-ditch efforts.
They did what they were supposed to. Maximum braking, minimum slippage. Reasonable steering control.
I’ve long said…if you have to hit a wall…you choose the brick. Never stop driving.
Pulling to the right…dead car on the shoulder. Traffic moving slowly ahead…just a mile or two an hour…I was still probably over 40mph…but it made space. I wasn’t sure…right till the last…that it was enough…I was lining up to hit the dead car on the shoulder…it was unoccupied…rather than the cars full of folks…when the cars moved forward what I just thought would be enough. Back into the lane. I cleared the dead car by at least an inch…
And…yep. Made it. The semi did too…directly beside me now…we both may have had half a car length left…and time came back into focus. What seemed like an eternity had only been a second or two.
And we were done.
Except I’m not. Now I’ve got a system error in the anti-locks, as a rather insistent warning light tells me… Gad…always something.
But yanno…it worked when it needed to. A little skill and the right equipment. I’ll do the repairs with glee.
Kerunch, crunch or CRUNCH. I took option “D”.
I’ll see you on the road.