#2 What would you have done?

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by BCKRider, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. BCKRider

    BCKRider Been here awhile

    Dec 24, 2012
    Might as well confess my only other crash, which predates the previous one which received a lot of response. I think we post this stuff so ALL OF US can either learn something new or be reminded of something we already knew.

    Time to head home (a 4 hour ride) after a BMW club campout, and it is pissing rain after a long dry spell. So a friend and I utilize a large tent with no sides to pack our tents, don our gear including rain gear, and head out on this backroad.

    Not sure if the friend would care to be named, so call him Mike. Mike is a very experienced rider and always much faster than myself. I'm shocked when he says "you lead." So I lead, riding probably 50 mph in the straight parts, slowing for any curve. Mike is so far back that I only see his headlight on long straight sections.

    Before the "accident curve" (probably posted at 50 kph/30 mph) I braked, geared down, then leaned the bike at a speed probably well below the posted speed. Hey, I'm a careful guy and, yes, I have read the David Hough books numerous times. I think it was a piece of advice, good 99% of the time, which did me in. "At least hold a steady throttle when leaned into a curve, but normally add a little gas." I held a steady throttle and remember wondering "why is this bike leaning more?"

    There is now a couple second memory gap which I can't explain. No memory of coming off the bike, and in fact it seems I levitated off it. I'm on my knees on the pavement watching the bike maybe 30 feet ahead of me low-side into the ditch. I didn't strike my helmeted head and the only damage to my clothing were two dime size holes in the knees of the rain pants. No damage AT ALL to my body, or even the leathers under the rain pants. Still boggles my mind.

    Mike helped me right the bike, bungee the wrecked saddle bag, made sure both the bike and I were capable of the rest of the trip home. $1000 later (mostly plastic) it was like the crash never happened.

    I am still so grateful Mike decided to shepherd me home. He had ABS on his bike (I didn't) and told me that even light braking brought the system into play.

    Morals of the story: (feel free to add)
    1. Traction on wet pavement is EXTREMELY variable. Going ridiculously slow around curves in the rain (especially after a long dry spell) is a sound plan. Forgot to mention I had fairly new tires with lots of tread, so that was not the cause.
    2. I almost certainly would have avoided this crash if, when I experienced the greater lean, slightly rolled off the throttle. Not something that is in the books.
    3. If you are going to crash, good to have a guardian angel behind you to help you to complete the trip.
  2. shovelmike

    shovelmike Adventurer

    Dec 21, 2009
    A lesson learned, your friend has probably lost traction under similar conditions in the past, thus the more cautious speed. I'm glad you came through fairly well.
  3. bumbeen

    bumbeen Banned

    Feb 12, 2013
    Can you explain further why rolling off would have prevented the accident?
  4. BCKRider

    BCKRider Been here awhile

    Dec 24, 2012
    My thought is that I was going only 1-2 mph too fast for the traction available and a SLIGHT reduction of speed when the lean started to increase would have saved the day. I am certainly open to other ideas on what I should have done - the reason I posted.

    Oh yeah, I also wondered if anyone could explain how I landed on my knees, seemingly with no forward motion, when the bike continued down the road after we parted. Seems to contradict the laws of physics, but that is exactly what happened.
  5. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    Pretty much why I make a point of riding even when conditions are really shitty.

    You can actually save the bike even when it starts to slip, but - not much window, basically straighten up a little and hang on, and try to turn again a little later - that panic/brain freeze is a killer.

    Best guess for the landing, when the bike fell, you pushed yourself away from it, it probably flicked you a bit as well, so the bike picked up a bit of speed, you lost some. I suspect you did land with some forward speed, but since you lost track of some of that - didn't notice the slide. Wet roads are good for one thing - easy on the gear ;)

    It's not inevitable, but only experience will help - and if it helps, just look at some of the MotoGP crash videos - people who are vastly 'better' than you have done pretty much the same.

  6. Robus

    Robus Adventurer

    Sep 7, 2011
    Chicago burbs
    Hard to know if you hit a slippery patch or if there just wasn't much traction to begin with. The fact that your more experienced buddy was hanging way back might have been a hint for you to slow down as well.
  7. ozmoses

    ozmoses ...

    Jul 3, 2009
    I'm unsure how new "fairly new" is but, as I'm sure we are all regrettably aware, new tires are slippery!
  8. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

    Oct 18, 2007
    central USA
    Pissing rain after along dry spell. There is your clue.

    Another way to say slick as ice. Really. If there is any way possible I will not ride in the first minutes of rain after a dry spell.

    This summer we had a horrible drought. When it finally rained I had my car. Good thing. The abs, traction control and stability control activated several times driving easy. It was slick as snow.

    Probably not anything you could have done except ride slower.

    If you have memory loss you probably did hit your head. Maybe on the bike. Check the helmet carefully

  9. b1pig

    b1pig Long timer

    Jan 16, 2013
    Ray City, Ga
    very light mist and light drizzle is usually enough to pull up whatever oil and other contaminants that have dried onto the road surface.

    i've never been afraid of riding in the rain.
    i am however SUPER cautious. i had a 91 GSX1100G that had some insane amounts of "compression braking". i was riding one afternoon after a heavy downpour. i'd apparently been daydreaming a little bit and my mind was elsewhere. I was running about 55-60. no standing water. just wet. i realized i was coming up on my turn and just cut the throttle. no brakes. next thing i know, i'm counter steering a slide for a few seconds. engine dropped to idle.

    that might have been one of the first times i rode that bike in the rain, and i always remembered after that to roll off the throttle or slip the clutch.

    traction on wet roads will always be highly unpredicatable, and based on what i read, you were being pretty cautious as it was. sometimes, you're just gonna go down regardless of the precautions you take.

    glad you came out as clean as you did.
  10. Kat013

    Kat013 n00b

    Mar 25, 2013
    I had almost the same thing happen, under somewhat similar conditions (it had been light rain for maybe an hour, after a dry spell, so still slick as snot), but only at 10mph coming out of a stoplight at a large intersection when someone didn't yield the left turn in front of me. I remember braking hard, realizing I wasn't going to clear the car, turning left to avoid him, bike going down... then I was getting up off the pavement further on in the intersection, and really angry because the jerk in the car was driving away.

    Neither my left hand nor left leg were under the bike when I got up (it was a little sport bike and very much flat on its side). No holes in the gear, no bruises, nothing sore afterwards. But I do not remember the slide at all. I slid half the length of that intersection. Only thing I can figure is that in those kinds of situations, your subconscious kicks your conscious mind out of the driver's seat and takes over long enough to keep you as unharmed as possible. Possibly a more intense version of when you're driving, and you're off in la-la land, and then you 'wake up' and realize you don't remember driving the last 5 miles but there you are, still safe on the road.

    It's not just how long it's been raining after a dry spell, but how much rain has fallen - a heavy rain will wash most of the oil off after 15-30 minutes in my experience; lighter rain takes longer.
  11. Charlie Gary

    Charlie Gary Been here awhile

    Sep 28, 2009
    Near Seattle, WA
    I ended up on my hands and knees once, watching my bike spin in circles and make sparks as it slid away from me. I do remember what happened getting that way, though. As the rear tire broke traction during a right turn leaving a stop sign, the back end swung around to the left as the bike leaned over to the right. When it leaned far enough my right foot came off the peg and was planted flat on the pavement. As the bike continued to move away from me my foot ensured the rest of my body didn't want to follow. My right hand came off the grip when the end of the bar hit the ground, so with one foot and one hand on the ground I was pretty much committed to letting go with my left hand. Otherwise it was going to be a face plant, and I spent so many years as an un-helmeted youth my instincts weren't going to allow that. Pretty soon I was on my hands and knees, watching the show.
  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    Couple of things jump out at me.

    You describe Mike as a faster rider than you. As well more experienced. He wanted you to lead. So, you probably were pushing yourself far harder than you would have if he weren't behind you. IMO, Mike did you a disservice by having you lead. He should have led, and held you back. Instead, you led, feeling the emotional push to maintain enough speed to satisfy this more experienced and faster rider.

    You say Mike was way back behind you. That was a very big clue that you were going too fast. If the experienced and fast rider is falling back, you're over cooking.

    Once you're sliding (hydroplaning) in the water, rolling off the throttle would probably not have helped you at all.

    IMO, the notion of using a little throttle in a turn often causes a rider to find themselves going too fast half way through the turn. Especially long turns.
  13. DJacobsen5116

    DJacobsen5116 Been here awhile

    Nov 2, 2010
    PNW - Seattle, WA
    I had a low speed accident a year ago and can't remember anything from about 50 feet from the intersection until looking up and seeing the EMT van about 10 feet away and the grill of the Black Jeep SUV that I had tried to avoid. I know I hit my head as the left side of the helmet has some really nice abrasion patterns. Also broke my pelvis in three places, 5 ribs and my left clavicle. 7 weeks in nursing facility and then 6 weeks later I dropped a big piece of wood on my left foot and broke the 1st metatarsal. Another 7 weeks. All this during one of the best summers in Seattle in years.
  14. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

    Sep 8, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    I tend to test the traction when it rains.
    1st rain after a dry spell is always bad, so I will use the back brake hard from time to time to see how much traction there is.
    If you just ride gently, you have no idea really.
  15. Cale_Kat

    Cale_Kat Been here awhile

    Oct 1, 2006
    You got shitted out a turn. No big deal. Could have been a bit too much gas for the traction, could have been cold tires (I've got no idea where in the ride this happened), it could have been oil in the turn or a slick of lime stone that leached off the hillside. It doesn't really matter because you had the presence of mind to keep your speed at a level where the worst thing that would happen was a mild low side.

    You're the man, don't let any turn tell you otherwise. :-)