Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just Another Ride

So, about 5:45PM last night, I'm riding north on I-75 headed to Detroit to catch the Tigers and Yankees game. My buddy and I had been in Cleveland, where he spent the day visiting his mom and I bought tickets thinking the ballgame would be a great way to relax on our way back home. I'm cruising along in the farthest left of 3 lanes at about 70MPH. It's pretty heavy traffic and only the left lane is moving at the posted speed limit. In the lane to my right, is a large SUV hauling a boat. In the lane to the right of him is a tractor trailer.

Just as I pull even with the front of the boat, and the rear of the SUV is lined up with the rear of the trailer the rig is hauling, the driver of the semi decides its time to move over into the middle lane. I started braking, but still found myself needing to head to the shoulder to avoid getting crunched by the boat…the 4 foot wide strip of concrete that serves as a shoulder in this case…the very poorly maintained 4 feet of concrete that serves as the should…you get the idea.

Those of you from Michigan won't need an explanation of the "Grand Canonesque" trenches that demarcate the highway from the shoulder. Michigan's crack Department of Transportation allows these 5 to 12 inch wide, and sometimes several inches deep "cracks" to exist in the vacuum between the roadway and the shoulder. They can be anywhere from a couple feet long to several meters.

In the end, I'm lucky to be alive. The only thought on my mind after I hit the first of these trenches was "keep the bike straight and keep it up." I wasn't trying to swerve back into the road where who knows what would have run into me. When I hit the first trench, I felt the front start to wobble and slip, I immediate knew the front tire was flat…at 70MPH on the busiest highway in the state, with no safe shoulder to stop on…I felt pretty boned at that point.

Fortunately, my buddy was far enough behind me that he wasn't affected by all this, and there were 2 tractor trailers in the lanes next to him that saw everything and immediately slowed down. Because THEY were paying attention, I was able to get back on the roadway and get over to the shoulder on the right side of the highway, thanks to them blocking traffic, where I was finally able to stop and begin cursing the day the first truck driver had been born.

Here's a picture of my tire and rim. The rim bent on both side, but the left side was the worst.
 My buddy's wife drove the hour and a half to come pick me up and we took the backroads home while he rode in front of us.

Anyway, I'm not sure how other people react the day after death grabs their nuts and squeezes like he's not going to let go…as for me, I decided it would be a good day to modify my Honda VTX a little more. I recently had it painted and customized to have a lot of the chrome blacked out.  Here's a few shots.

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Chad Cole