Last September, my wife and I took our bikes to the Black Hills. We towed our bikes--an SV1000 and an SV650--to her cousin's house in Rapid City, SD (free lodging!). Even after driving for 6 hours from Sioux Falls, SD, I was anxious to get out on the 2-wheelers. It was a perfect mid-seventies and sunny day.
Within the residential area where we were staying, there is a 90-degree corner with a car wash. The car wash was situated on a lot that is elevated above the road. Not thinking anything about it, I go around the 90-degree corner at a normal, casual pace, and WHOOOAAAA!.... I can feel the rear end slowly sliding out from under me... Like I was driving on ice.
Next thing I know, I'm on the ground and my bike is on it's left side sliding a few feet, with the wheel turned hard right. No injuries--not even a mark on my riding pants. But my SV1000's lower fairing was scratched, as well as a broken clutch lever, brake fluid reservoir, and a dent where my right handlebar switchbox hit the tank.
I passer-by stopped to help me pick up the bike, and he explained to me how he has dropped his Harley in that exact place TWICE. He explained that the car-wash runoff is to blame. it makes an invisible layer of soapy, sudsy evilness waiting to prey on motorcyclists.
Luckily I had an extra lever with me, and zip-ties for the brake fluid reservoir. (The reservoir's mounting point snapped off, but no spillage.) I can hear slow-going cars screeching around this corner as I'm replacing my lever.
I didn't let it ruin my weekend in the black hills.
Still had a great time
Moral of the story is two-fold. First (obviously) is: Beware of car washes! But secondly, I can't help but wonder if I let me excitement for riding my motorcycle in the black hills get the better of me, possibly compromising my judgement. There's no way to know for sure, but perhaps if I would have taken a breather after that 6-hour drive, I would have recognized the potential danger of riding by a car wash.
In the future, I will definitely be more aware of my "excitement factor" and not let it get the better of me. I still blame the "black suds" though. :)