Author: Peter Thiersch
1981, Northern California. Brand new rider (20 years old) on a 400cc Honda Hawk.
I’d just spent the day taking hang gliding lessons on the Point Reyes sand dunes (crazy fun), about 2 hrs north of San Mateo (just south of San Francisco), where I was living at the time.
Coming home, I was bagged and probably going too fast when I merged onto the four lane Highway 101 southbound.
It was a rather tight 90 degree turn into the merge lane, there was a bit of gravel in the merge, and I thought I was going to slide out onto the highway, so I went wide instead (waay wide) right into the second lane of the highway.
Thought I could just goose it and speed up, but I hadn’t downshifted into the corner, so I was in 5th gear and goosing it didn’t work so good.
And that’s when I realized I’d cut off a semi tractor trailer in the 2nd lane.
He’s probably doing 60 mph and I’m probably doing 40…
So I’m down shifting and goosing, and I assume he’s hitting the binders, and I suppose we make contact at about +/- 50 mph.
Next thing I know, the bike is punched out from under me and I’m sliding down the freeway spread eagled on my belly.
I slide to a stop a ways down the tarmac, and jump up to see the semi pulling over to the shoulder, with his passenger leaning out the window looking back at me.
So I wave both arms overhead to show I’m okay, then turn around to see traffic stopping for me as I’m standing in the middle of a 4 lane freeway.
Whew, dodged that bullet!
So next up, let’s get the bike off the freeway. But the center stand is bent up into the rear wheel, which won’t turn.
No problem, I’m so full of adrenaline that I practically throw the bike to the shoulder.
Seems like seconds later a highway patrol cop shows up, and the trucker has walked back to check on me.
I’m fine, didn’t even scratch my helmet, just tore my jeans and gloves (no armour of course).
I explain the situation to the cop (totally my fault, gravel etc) and the cops says “You’re lucky you didn’t get sucked up in them drive wheels!”
Thanks for that!
The trucker’s big shiny Kenworth bumper has a minor scratch, but my bigger concern is what he’s hauling - thoroughbred race horses!
Yikes, I’m thinking, maybe one of them has a bloody nose or worse (due to hard braking) and I’m gonna get sued by some millionaire.
But no worries, the trucker says he won’t say anything if I don’t, and the cop writes me a $150 ticket for “improper lane change” lol.
But wait, there’s more.
So the trucker leaves and the cop is about to drive off, leaving me road side with my broken bike. It’s 1981 and I’m 20, so no cell phone or credit card.
So I’m like, “Hey Officer, give me a lift to the nearest gas station?” and he’s like “I’m not a taxi service”… but he agrees to drop me at the next highway off ramp, which is only a mile down the highway.
The bike is a mess – rear wheel jammed by the centre stand, muffler crushed up against the seat, forks are tweaked and bars are bent… and of course I have no tools.
How the hell am I going to get home?
So Officer Joe drops me at the next exit, and lo and behold there’s a Home Depot there.
I literally have 2 dollars in change on me and I find a single hack saw blade for $1.50.
Walk a mile back to the bike, and spend some time sawing the centre stand off with my bare handed hack saw blade. Scrunch the muffler back to semi straight, bend the bars halfway back and saddle up.
Bike started up (its a Honda) and clutch and brakes seemed to work okay.
Took me a couple hours to ride home at half speed, bike head-shaking like a wild bronco.
Called in sick the next day, I was so beat up I could hardly walk, but nothing serious.
Bike was a write off.
Moral of the story – never go riding without a few horseshoes up your backside ;-)