Today was a bad day. Ok, let me qualify that a bit: it was a bad day for my bike.
I went from Lanse Au Clair up to Red Bay this morning and it was a nice easy scenic ride. Everything was going good. All the while I was looking for rocks to see if I could some labradorite. I wasn’t having luck and I knew Red Bay was somewhat touristy I stopped at the souvenir shop to see if they had any. Sure enough they did. I picked up a stack of them.
As I went out I found myself surrounded by Danes. They were really interested in all the bits and bobs I had on my bike. They loved talking about the bike and we spent the better part of half an hour talking and having them get on the bike and what-not.
But it was time to leave.
Time to meet destiny.
I headed up the road back to the trans-lab and took a right onto the gravel.
The bike was skittish to say the least.
Knowing what I know now the right choice was to say “screw it” (or possibly far less polite words) and head back with my tail between my legs. But with both tail and legs intact.
The maximum speed on the road was 70kph and I was going around half that not wanting to push it.
Now here’s the events as I remember them plus what I can piece together from the evidence of damage and road marks (this all happens in just a few seconds):
- I try playing with my speed to find a more stable speed that is more stable, I got from around 30 up to 35kph
- The front end starts getting a bit less stable
- I let off the throttle a touch to slow back down (no brakes involved)
- The front end weave gets worse
- From here on I might be doing anything with throttle or steering – I don’t remember since it’s all on instinct.
- (here on in I’m just a passenger)
- The rear-end loses grip sliding left
- The front-end loses grip sliding left
- Bike falls to the right
- Right-hand engine crash-bar touches down
- I dismount bike head-first (this I remember very vividly – the road surface coming closer and closer to my face and gravel moving past my eyes as I hear the sickening hollow sound of the gravel on my fiberglass of the helmet) I slide to a stop fairly quickly
- Bike catches on something in the gravel an pivots on the right-hand engine guard
- Bike rolls up, cartwheel style, hitting the right-side of the front beak, right-side of the headlight and right side of the windshield
- Bike launches over the front-wheel torqueing the front sub-frame
- Bike airborne rotating clockwise if looking from the top (road right-hand side)
- Bike comes down hard on left pannier
- Left pannier catches something in the road and starts to rotate counter-clockwise (looked at from above the road surface)
- Tank bag comes off (rips off stitching holding the back-end of the bag onto the bike) and somewhat separates from bike
- Bike continues to rotate counter-clockwise (looked at from above the road) as it goes off the built-up road onto the rocks on the left side of the road
- Tank bag slides after bike landing slightly short of bike
- As bike leaves the road surface it moves past vertical (tires down) and settles on its left side in the grass
- Bike leans back onto tank bag breaking camera (and nothing else of note)
After this point I quickly get up skipping the check of “are all systems functioning” based on the adrenalin.
First thing I do is try to right the bike.
No go. Too heavy.
Next, I take a picture. (Date stamp is 11:28 AM Eastern Time, 12:58 PM Newfoundland time)
Run back down, pull out the camera from the tank bag that wedged under the bike. In two pieces. :’-(
Try to right the bike again. It’s still too heavy. It didn’t lose any weight in the minute since last I checked.
Pull off some of my bags that are strapped onto the bike and get them to the road.
Go back up to the road and look for traffic.
Ponder pressing the 9-1-1 button on the spot since it’s near me now.
Look at road. It’s loose stone on hard-packed dirt. “No finds.” Marbles. This road is worse than wet red clay, snow or even ice.
Car comes from the north and I flag them down. A few guys get out and help me over the course of the next 20 minutes to get me back on the road.
As this is going on I smell the clutch burning as he’s slipping it to get it past some soft, marshy dirt. I look down at the rut he’s making and see a bakeapple growing next to it. Pretty little thing. Jam made from them is mighty fine. (Apparently you can make moonshine out of them too)
With a giant lunge the bike leaps back up onto the road. It’s an impressive bike when it’s moving like that. I never saw it third-person before.
With the bike on the road they hop back in their car and continue their drive. I never got their names but THANK YOU!
I get back on the bike and drive back to Red Bay. The steering isn’t straight. The bars are cocked to the left to go straight.
I drive back, very slowly, to the gift shop to see what I can do for a room. At this point I’m in shock. Thoughts are not coherent.
They don’t have a room but call the B&B down the road. They have a room. I go up there slowly. I go down the hill that’s the same crushed stone as the road I just did.
I check in. I drag all my crap into the room.
I need to get to a phone. The lady of the inn, Blanche, takes me to the community center where they have internet access.
Their internet is down. Has been for a week.
The guy there looks at me and decides this is an emergency and lets me use their phone. I’m on for around 10 minutes talking to En (first call) on their dime. I need a hug. They need a gift basket.
I call my insurance, Progressive. The woman on the phone has such a nice calming voice. I don’t remember my name, but she gets a +1 in my book. Things start rolling.
I call up Blanche and she picks me up and brings me home.
Her husband, Wade, shows up and we have lunch. Chicken salad sandwiches and some salmon. He gives me a beer, bitches that he’s complained that the road isn’t safe; the provincial government doesn’t do anything. He talks to a reporter and sets up an interview for tomorrow to talk about the road’s safety.
I wait a while and call Progressive since they haven’t called the B&B yet. I talk to Tiffany and she passes me off the Canada claims rep, Jennifer. I leave her a message.
Deciding that I can’t carry all my crap as carry-ons on a plane I start boxing crap up. I get a 28kg box together and we take it down to the post office. $402. WTF?! ! ? !!
Drive back to the B&B. Miss the call from Jennifer (Progressive) in the progress of the post office.
Call back 800 number and leave a message.
Call Air Canada and be shot down; they don’t fly out of Blanc Sablon. SOL?
Blanche’s cousin offers me a ride to the airport. We try to figure out flight back. He’s been to Cleveland a few years back! Small world, eh? We talk for a bit and we decide a travel agent would be the best bet. Gives me some clues about travel agents that are local.
I call the one he recommended and start working on that. First quote: just north of $2000 CAD. I told him I have some leeway. Second quote, $1760CAD. Full-fare, no cost to change flights (assuming availability), full refund if not used. Pull the trigger not knowing what Progressive wants. Leave Sunday. 18-hour layover in St. Johns. Arrive Monday around 5:45. Blanc Sablon, St. Johns, Toronto, Cleveland.
Get a call from Ennie! :-D Y
AAAAY!!!!! She tracked me down!
Talk for a bit… everything OK. Progressive is fine with me taking pictures they told her. It sounds like they don’t want to deal with Labrador. I don’t blame them one bit. It sounds like they really want to total the bike. From the damage I think it’s warranted. The engine runs fine, but both sub-frames are likely tweaked. It’s fixable – almost anything is – but there’s a lot of labor between now and working. More than that is the transportation of the poor bike. Just to get the bike somewhere else would take thousands of dollars. Then getting the bike back to me in Cleveland. I think it’s a write-off myself.
Head finally wrapped around the situation. I’m here. Uninjured. Safe.
Have some dinner. Yummy soup. Another beer. A month ago I hear some old guy in his 70’s got medivaced out to St. Johns from a spill and died afterward from the same stretch of road.
Note to self: if someone ever comes to my door in the same situation: do the same thing. No questions asked. Karma thing. Really. Gotta pay this forward. What would I do without Blanche and Wade?!
I hear their computer isn’t working right. Yes! Something to do to repay! As sick as it may sound, I love to work. It must be a defect in my character. Their Dell computer at their store isn’t working right; the partitioning is all F-ed up. Need to find install disk and reformat. Not something to do without asking. Walk back down to B&B.
Ride out with Wade when he’s supervising some ditch digging. Really. The road is too wide and the ditches too narrow. We visit the back-hoe, then visit where the dump truck is dumping what the back-hoe’s dug up.
Go back to the B&B.
Head up to the store. We find the install disk for the computer and decide to fix things the next day.
Chat with some folks.
Look! There’s a petition to fix the damn road that’s unsafe! Sign it.
Back to the B&B. Al & Max show up and we chat for a while. Sit on the bike. Talk guns. Ruminate on the events. They say I should sue the government of Newfoundland and Labrador for making an unsafe road. Good guys.
They eventually head out… I chat with Wade a while more before going to bed.
Live every day like it’s your last. The world ends tomorrow you might die. Today I did. Today wasn’t my last. Tomorrow might be. Would I do it again? What’s been done can’t be undone. I didn’t get injured. If forced I would say yes. With a lot pain to wad up a perfectly innocent bike. I can’t live in a bubble. Shit happens. Shit happened today. Today you didn’t die, tomorrow, you might die. You have to live life while you still have it.
OMG, Wade’s been up to Iqualuit. Damn that’s cool.