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Old 01-25-2013, 11:52 PM   #1
BCKRider OP
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What Would You Have Done?

July 2008 and I'm on my way to the BMW MOA rally in Gillette, Wyoming. Beartooth Pass road is narrow and twisty, but excellent surface and NO kicked up gravel or left over sand from the winter. I'm on this tour from British Columbia with a few other riders from our local club, but we know where we will meet up and make no effort to keep each other in sight. I'm probably the slowest rider and happily trail the others, even stopping to put on a rain jacket when I started to feel a bit cold.

All is well until I crest a hill in the left tire track and suddenly see not only a lane to my right to pull off for a view-point but also THE ONLY passing lane coming toward me. The problem is that there is a bike in that passing lane, coming around a curve, and his rear tire is sliding out into my lane!

What I did (still not sure if this was the best maneuver) was to point my bike to the right hand edge of my lane then get hard on the brakes. When I looked back at the sliding bike, his rear tire had now slid to the right side. Then it suddenly hooked up and his bike darted at me. When the collision occured, both of us were probably going less than 5 mph, but it was close to a head-on collision. The crash bar on his 1200GS hit my radiator then my crash bar which hit my leg. We both fell over to the right. Fortunately, nobody drove over our bodies. We pick ourselves up, get the damaged bikes off the road, and only then have the time to think WTF happened?

What happened was that the road crew which which had done such an excellent job of sweeping off the winter sand in both directions (this passing lane was about in the middle) failed to sweep off the sand - exactly the same color as the road surface - in this passing lane which started in a curve!

I learned a lot about the guy who hit me as we shared a rental car ride to the nearest city with an airport. (My bike was totalled, his eventually repaired.) He was an experienced rider with dirt experience as well. When his back tire unexpectedly slid out, he counter-steered and didn't chop the throttle. We would both have been fine except for a bit of clear pavement at exactly the wrong place.

I'm not at all pissed about the guy who hit me (and his insurance did cover me - bike, gear, airfare home, physio.) I'm a bit more pissed about the helpful cop who got us into a motel room but later never returned my phone calls and emails. I'm still really pissed that a friend who made it to the rally said the sand was still there when he came back over the same route several days later! I wonder how many MC crashes occured on that small bit of road. Seems to me gross negligence and the insurance companies should be sueing somebody.

I welcome your opinions - especially how I could have avoided the crash. That is ALWAYS the way to go if you can.
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:55 AM   #2
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Winter sand.

Our town has stopped even the pretense of sweeping it, they just let Spring rain & traffic do the job. Obviously, intersections are the most dangerous. There is a bike road race here in the early summer; they have staff go out to sweep the corners beforehand!

As for your question, what could you really have done? Unless local, you would not know about the debris and the timing of the only 2 vehicles meeting at the apex(?) seems improbably bad.

Maybe this is one of those instances where you did the best you could do?

I do notice both here & other riding forums, as well as in conversation that debris left behind by road/construction crews is a growing theme.

Last summer, I went down on a corner of a dirt road that was slick as snot from the mag chloride they sprayed to hold it solid. I wasn't the only one, either. Happily cruising down the road to ice skating instantly. No signage or warning.



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Old 01-26-2013, 07:51 AM   #3
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Sounds like a "perfect storm" scenario for the OP.
Doesn't seem like there's a whole hell of a lot you could have done differently.

Chris


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Old 01-26-2013, 09:58 AM   #4
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Glad you escaped - it could have been much worse! Given the positions, I'd say you reacted well.
The only thing I would throw out there for discussion is something I'm doing lately - that's sticking to the outside tire track in blind corners, especially on twisty pavement. I've had a few pucker moments here in the SoCal mountains where I've been in the left track enjoying the corner and either a wide vehicle or someone pushing the line is suddenly in my face. The outside is, I guess, the slower line, but gives you some cushion from oncoming trouble.
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:20 PM   #5
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I'd say you're far too kind to the person who RAN INTO YOU. When wicking it up in a curve in a passing lane it is the rider's responsibility to evaluate traction and apply throttle appropriately. Sounds like he was assuming he'd have full traction - which is always a stupid thing to assume when riding on the street.

Unless they're spraying motor oil or diesel on the road, blaming road crews is a copout.

JMHO....
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:05 PM   #6
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I go over hills in the right tire track. That's the only thing I would have done differently
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:32 AM   #7
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I lived many places: those that salt, use calcium chloride, those who sand, spray brine, and those who grit the roads.

Every spring brings a new set of challenges-- between crap on the road and people looking even less than usual for motorcycles.

Corners, the bottom of hills, intersections, interchanges all must be taken with care.

Sometimes holding your line is the best course of action, sometimes heading to the shoulder is the best course of action, but in your case, you couldn't possibly have guessed he was suddenly going to hook up and high side.
I am sure I would have ridden as if he were going to continue his slide and evade him, just as you did.

Actually, aside from losing your bike and your trip, you came out beautifully.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:41 PM   #8
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In all honesty, I would have done exactly the same thing you did -- aim for the side of the road while braking like hell to scrub off as much speed as possible in case I did hit something. I'm glad you are OK and everything worked out.

Winter sand is a bitch -- I've lost traction in the rear tire twice on my VFR and both times were on sand.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:38 PM   #9
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crashes are rarely caused by one single factor...usually there is a chain of events that lead up to a crash. the key is altering one or more of those factors within your control earlier in the chain.

not all corners are made for going fast.

NONE of the unfamiliar-to-you corners in the world are for going fast...ever.

to answer your question, i'd have saved some reserve space in the performance envelope to account for the possibility that stuff happens like mid-corner sand and another guy hauling ass.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidBanner View Post
crashes are rarely caused by one single factor...usually there is a chain of events that lead up to a crash.
The "chain of events" in this case was another rider coming the other way losing control and crashing into the OP. Clearly not the OP's fault and the OP did what he could in the situation but IMO the "chain of events" here was the oncoming rider being a dipshit riding beyond his skill level and putting other people at risk.

The oncoming rider was a perpetrator, not a victim.

It simply amazes that people, even the OP, would ignore the 100% culpability of the oncoming rider in this case.

I wonder if the sentiment would the same if it were:

a) a 16 year old in a WRX

b) a squid on a Gixxer

c) a rube in an F250


But NOOOOO, it wasn't his fault - because he was riding a GS and had good insurance.

duck screwed with this post 01-27-2013 at 07:43 PM
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:40 PM   #11
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Hmmm, traction lost because of dirt.

If you ride in dirt, you accept that you'll go down every so often. And that other than your own capability and judgement, the greatest hazard is the person, ie motorcyclist, coming the other way. Takes the fun out of going fast...

I really think that the lesson of this is that the greatest risk is another knucklehead just like me, using up the road. Gardez vous....

Otherwise I concur that you both did what you could, and will live to ride.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:49 PM   #12
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Pissed

I would have waited until he got his helmet off, then punched the fawker right in the face. He can have the taxi, I'll take the back of the police cruiser.

You did better than I would have, that's for damn sure.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:45 PM   #13
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Sue the state. That is the only way to get their attention.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by PT Rider View Post
Sue the state. That is the only way to get their attention.
Wanna guess how many riders went around that exact same turn under those same conditions and didn't low/high-side into oncoming traffic? Yet you wanna get all sue-the-state happy? Personal responsibility must be a foreign concept to you.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by duck View Post
The "chain of events" in this case was another rider coming the other way losing control and crashing into the OP. Clearly not the OP's fault and the OP did what he could in the situation but IMO the "chain of events" here was the oncoming rider being a dipshit riding beyond his skill level and putting other people at risk.

The oncoming rider was a perpetrator, not a victim.

It simply amazes that people, even the OP, would ignore the 100% culpability of the oncoming rider in this case.

I wonder if the sentiment would the same if it were:

a) a 16 year old in a WRX

b) a squid on a Gixxer

c) a rube in an F250


But NOOOOO, it wasn't his fault - because he was riding a GS and had good insurance.
not all crashes are avoidable. sorry if i made it seem like the OP was to blame. if the OP did all he could do, he can rest assured that he did his best to minimize his chances of being involved in a wreck...which is probably why this one was as minor as it was.

yes, the oncoming rider is "at fault"...but there are often things we may do in order to allow more room for the errors of others. i was trying to make that point.
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