Damn near lost it on the way home last night.
Yeah. Me. Sheesh.
And thatís not entirely true. ďDamn nearĒ should be replaced with ďCompletelyĒ.
It wasnít ONE thing...itís NEVER one thing...it usually takes at least three...that perfect trifecta...three things have to go wrong.
So, what went wrong?
--Water main break was seeping water up through the street.
--Temperature slipped slightly below freezing.
--Thereís a large drainage ditch running under the road just before the intersection of eastbound Arapaho and Plano road. Essentially a bridge.
--I wasnít paying enough attention.
Okay...thatís four things...but I donít think "quafecta" is a word...and "fourfecta" makes me vaguely uncomfortable in a "crosses my legs" sort of way. (Guys are all nodding and crossing their legs too...gals are all wondering what the heck I'm yammering on about).
So, Iíve had that Valkyrie in places and conditions that folks tell me are no place to take her. I ride The Dragon hard and with impunity, confident in my abilities to handle just about anything I can see coming.
As for the stuff I can't see coming? Heh...well...that's the fun stuff, ain't it?
Anyway, gravel, sand, intense heat, mind-numbing cold, rain, sleet, and snow weíve eaten up and spit out on the road behind us, saluting man and Mother Nature for the challenges and feeling smug about our ability to handle them.
Iíve done that all my life I guess. I actually LOST a bike in the mud once...hey, the mud was deep and it was a small bike...but thatís another story.
But through all of that...I did at least learn one thing...
Ice is no place to take a heavy cruiser. Thatís not a recent lesson. Heck, I learned that one on a dirt bike way back when I could still survive on $60 a week earnings. I kept it up...I got it going...I just had to find something solid enough to crash into to get stopped.
Ah, youth. Or stupidity. Blissful times. I miss Ďem sometimes.
But I digress. The point is, I know to watch for ice and avoid the places and conditions where Iím likely to find it. If youíve not learned that...well the Valk will teach you quickly. Sheís a bitch to pick up on ice...and yeah, sheís taught me...more than once...even though I learned long ago where the smart road was.
I said I learned where the smart road was. I didnít say I always chose it.
But this time I had...and thatís really the point...itís the things you think you know that will get you.
There shouldnít have been ice there. I knew that. Why you might ask? Well, it was nearly 38 degrees when I left work for the 20 mile commute home. Thatís 6 degrees above freezing...and even more above when water will freeze on the roads around here.
Ah, but Iíve written about the heat island effect of the city before...of course, thatís usually related to summer temperatures, but it works in the winter too.
By the time I reached the suburbs, the temperature was below freezing. I didnít really know this though. Iím a simple soul. Once below 45 itís all just friggen cold to me.
I did see the water...but it was obviously liquid...it really didnít even register as a potential problem. Splash and youíre done, right?
Well sort of...after the splash, all the cars and trucks that have passed this way trail some drops and mist...and the 100 feet immediately before the intersection happen to be a sort of bridge thing (doesnít look like a bridge, but a major drainage/creek passes underneath the road there).
All that nice mist and drops quite happily froze on the bridge and made it a sheet of solid ice.
The light went yellow on me. This is one of those ďrevenue enhancingĒ lights...equipped with cameras and various ďinfallibleĒ technical widgets to help our local government leaders to finance their prostitutution, gambling, and drunk driving habits every year...but I digress again.
Motorvating at roughly the 40mph speed limit. Even choice. 50-50. Ride through the yellow or a semi-hard stop.
Any light without the spyware, and Iíd have just drifted through it.
For this one, I applied the brakes and to my complete surprise, THEN drifted right through it. Sideways even. I wasnít even the slightest bit aware of the ice until the bike broke loose. Thatís far, far too late.
Iím sure it looked way cool on the video and flash picture the expensive surveliance camera took. I donít have to worry about a ticket though...the license plate wasnít facing in the right direction anymore. Heck, I was eastbound...the plate was more or less pointed south. Too bad...it might be worth the ticket just to get a copy of the picture. The only way it could have been better would be if I had been aware of what was happening and flipped the camera off as I went sliding through the deserted intersection.
Oh...and it probably would have been better without the wild, girlish scream and rather creative profanity.
Iíve got some skills. I trained up on dirt bikes something over 35 years ago and have been pushing the limit ever since. Gotta be 3/4'ths of a million miles on motorcycles by now...most of it was even upright!
Yep. Iíve got skills. They're not really what saved me this night.
Apparently Iíve got some luck too.
Iím sure you dirt bike riders have felt it...that intuition...that feel that the bike needs you to shift your position just so? No thinking...no training...no practice...but just do it?
Yep, point the handlebars the direction I wanted to actually go, get off the brakes, and do some impossible back-twisting contortionist lurching maneuver, jerking with my weight and leaning off the left until it just felt right.
She stayed up. It was violent, but she didnít high-side me when we hit the dry pavement. It was a near thing, but I kept my seat. The luck won out today.
Iíd made the next block before I realized I was okay...well...mostly. My back is killing me today. Surges of pain. Bouts of crippling stiffness. Occasional cold sweats. Only a few wild, girlish screams.
Small price to pay I guess. Except I didnít ride to work today.
Whatís with that?