My Dakar and I rear-ended on the highway in upstate NY

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Mohawk Unit, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. Mohawk Unit

    Mohawk Unit Been here awhile

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    Hi folks, thought I'd share my story for some therapy, advice, and general commiseration. I was in my first serious motorcycle accident two days ago on I-90W, in Albany NY where I live.


    Normally I leave work late enough that the 5 mile highway drive home is nice and quiet, but left during rush-hour time on this day to meet a fellow motorcyclist buddy for his birthday. I got into an accident right before a notoriously chaotic off-ramp, where essentially an I-90 on ramp is directly before a major, multi-exit offramp, and then there are several lane options to go in. So you'll have cars in the right-hand lane quickly moving multiple lanes over to the left for an exit. It's a bad scene at rush hour times.

    So I was approaching this offramp at normal highway speeds, several hundred feet from a tight group of cars, when they braked hard. I braked hard as well - the roads were wet but the bike felt in control and okay. But an SUV smacked me hard from behind. I can still really feel the force of it if I try to - which I'm not - it was the most unnatural and extreme discomfort I've ever felt. I think I was immediately separated from the bike, and remember sliding with my feet forward and looking back at all the cars coming to a halt. Once I stopped moving, I couldn't breathe, but I was able to slowly stand up and could tell nothing was broken. Hadn't lost consciousness or hit my head. Wasn't bleeding from anywhere as far as I could tell.

    The middle-aged lady who hit me was already crying hysterically, and I was trying to calm her down, pretty absurd scenario right there. I think it was my brain's tactic to keep my mind off of what had just happened. Her SUV looked worse than my bike - my engine had died but the lights were still on and it looked more or less like how a motorcycle should. A Goldwing-riding acquaintance from work saw me and stopped - helped me get the bike out of the lane and convinced me I needed to go to the hospital. I let the state trooper and fire department do their jobs while I got loaded into the ambulance. More or less till felt fine, tried to do my best to answer all the questions to prove to everyone that I was okay.

    I'd already been questioned what felt like a million times about where the pain was, and in the ambulance I noticed my knee was starting to throb - it even felt wet, like there might be blood. I walked the ambulance crew through removing all the clips and velcro from my Sidi boots, and prepared myself for what they were going to see - I was already braced down so wouldn't see for myself. But they just laughed and told me with relief that it was just a slight burn. Really start to hit me around then how thankful I was to consistently take the time twice a day, everyday, to put that Klim suit on.

    In the ER, the X-ray revealed I might have a fractured vertabrae. Went back and waited to get a CT scan. A guy came in with two cops and took the bed next to me. They'd found 25 grams of crack on him. wow! He smelled like pee. Add that to 80 degree stale air and not allowed to drink fluids = not fun.
    After a CT scan, they informed me I'd be getting a back brace. More waiting and a greasy looking salesman arrived with a shiny black vest. He was then notified it had turned out there was no fracture, got really irate, and stormed out. I didn't like that; felt like he should be happy I was okay! Motorcycle buddies were there when I was out, and got home by midnight after six hours in there.

    My bike is gone though. I went to the tow yard yesterday morning to inspect it. At first glance it looks like just a smashed mirror, turn signal, tail light... I tried getting the tools out from under the seat and realized they were trapped from a severely bent frame. The insurance company is supposed to inspect it today, but I know it will be totalled. So the honeymoon is over. I got the bike back in September - my first bike above 80cc's if you can believe it (I was previously a two-stroke tuning fanatic). I'd really wanted an 800gs but was just outside my price range, and had decided that life was short and it would be better to start with something lower on the food chain instead of sitting around and waiting for my bank account to rise.

    The bike was everything I hoped it would be, 2006 BMW Dakar. The perfect line of economy and power, able to squeeze through the tight areas with a friend's smaller 250, enough to carry my girlfriend in the back on occasion. A pleasure to work on and augment its functionality. I had just started to get confident on the trails, and had added Denali LEDs, luggage, and a Garmin Montana in anticipation for a summer of exploration. Like anyone else here I've got my share of problems in life, and whenever I turned the key on this bike, it was a sanity machine.

    I'm psyched to be alive -- have had friends seriously injured on motorcycles - even hit and runs - so I know I'm lucky - but I do feel sad. I've noticed for the past few months that the bike was really starting to feel like an extension of myself, and now I'm really feeling that void. I'm noticing that people in my life are having trouble understanding that. I rode it everyday this winter to commute, far up into the Adirondacks between Christmas and New Years (and right between two snow storms), and countless weekend adventures either solo or with friends. Amazing memories I won't forget, and I want a lot more of them. So I've got to make sure the insurance process ends well and I'm able to get back on the road.



    I'm going to try and get a fair deal out of the insurance, and parlay that for a used F800GS. I'd love to hear anyone's responses, advice, or hot leads on bikes. I have some images on my Flickr of the bike post-crash, and all the happy times I had before then. Not sure if its the wrong move to be posting these publicly with insurance claims still happening. Not even sure if writing this is a bad move. I didn't lie and I didn't tamper with the bike, so whatever.

    My recommendations on a suitable celebratory meal after a crash and six hours in the ER, all on an empty stomach: Eggo waffles, leftover pulled pork, maple syrup.


    Also, I gotta say, I ride with my Macbook Pro in a Pelican 1490 case, mounted with Rok straps on a Caribou cargo plate. One of the straps was shredded, but the case stayed secure the whole time, and I'm typing this on that laptop right now. This computer is my meal ticket and was a huge investment for someone in this phase of life and career, so I'm considering myself a lifelong Pelican customer. Klim too.
    #1
  2. Scott_PDX

    Scott_PDX Leisure Engineer

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    Bummer about your wreck. Sounds like things are going to work out for you. Count your blessings! Hoping to see a picture of "new to you" 800GS on this thread in the next few weeks.

    Let the good times roll!
    #2
  3. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    Sorry about your misfortune, glad you are recovering. Is this where you come down the hill on I-90 eastbound approaching the ramps for I-787? I used to commute through there in a car.
    #3
  4. DavidBanner

    DavidBanner Banned

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    Albany traffic/drivers suck.

    Since you sustained physical injury, you should pursue damages for pain and suffering. Sure, bones/burns can heal...but you didn't cause them and you shouldn't have to take it on the chin because someone else wasn't paying attention. The property damage portion will be handled pretty cleanly, now it's just a matter of figuring out how much you want/will accept for the damage done to your body. Only you know what that's worth to you, you should consider finding an attorney.

    Whatever you do, don't accept any payments in full/final settlement of all of your claims without talking to an attorney...since you do not yet know the full extent of your injuries.

    I'm not suggesting that you should milk this for millions, I am suggesting that you are ENTITLED to be compensated for injuries you sustained through no fault of your own. You only get one body, and this person dinged yours up pretty seriously. You could have been killed.
    #4
  5. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Very lucky to get through that without any major injuries!
    Bad call on the rush hour part though.
    #5
  6. Mohawk Unit

    Mohawk Unit Been here awhile

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    @viverrid, yep that is exactly where it is. You've got people from the Lark st/Arbor Hill area getting on right there, and then in another 1/8 of a mile you've got the exits that go to 787, etc.

    @NJ-Brett, indeed.. I've been riding small displacement bikes for five years, was just starting to feel comfortable on the highway. I see now that was my mistake.

    Thanks for the replies, nice to hear them. No soreness today after I started walking around, haven't had the need to take any drugs, so far so good.
    #6
  7. Madrox

    Madrox Like a bat out of hell

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    +1

    And holy hell you are one lucky fucker. Go buy a lottery ticket.
    #7
  8. danhalen

    danhalen n00b

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    When we went to look at mohawk units bike, i really almost didnt believe he got hit like he did. Ive seen crap bikes on Craigslist with more damage, and ive fallen off a bicycle before and received more physical damage than he did. Lucky fucker. He forgot to mention how all the cute nurses were being very nice to him.
    #8
  9. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Man, so sorry that happened to you. Really glad you're in once piece, and I got the emotional connection you had with your bike. I'm really sorry about that.....my bike is in my mind, irreplaceable. Not true, but you certainly are. Glad you're among the living..... Camels were dessert??
    #9
  10. Mohawk Unit

    Mohawk Unit Been here awhile

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    @hardware indeed, smoking is my one vice and I got no shortage of lecturing in the ER about it. Probably one of the best cigarettes of all time after the accident and all night in the stinky hot hospital watching King of the Hill.
    #10
  11. RicoAJP

    RicoAJP ADV Dreamer

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    First of all, glad you are alright :clap

    Second, I totally understand. I used to be a bike courier and the company had these badly maintained 125 yamahas with massive top boxes.. Loaded with way too much weight. I locked up the front wheel going down a ramp in heavy rain and traffic. I managed to stop sliding without hitting the taxi infront and behind me there was a six car pile up, my head perfectly aligned with the drivers side front wheel of the car behind me and the bumper within arms length from me. When I got up, and saw the carnage behind me -and how I had sustained virtually no injuries cept a cut elbow and ripped jeans, the first thing I did was push the bike over to the shoulder, open that top box, and chain smoke 3 ciggs using the top box as cover from the rain. That was 5 years ago, a week after I got my licence. Boy it felt good to be alive.. :1drink
    #11
  12. _Davi_

    _Davi_ Adventurer

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    The bike as a "sanity machine". Although most (if not secretly, ALL) nonriders think them to be just the opposite, this the goddamn truest thing I've heard in a while.
    #12
  13. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    Glad that things are OK-- vehicles can be replaced, you can't.

    For every motorcycle ride I take, I mentally assign informal "hazard points" to the trip-- road conditions, traffic conditions, weather, etc etc. And if they add up wrong I'll modify the trip to make it less hazardous. For example, on your ride home: Interstate. Bad off-ramp. Rush-hour traffic. Wet road. Bing Bing Bing-- modify the trip, take surface roads or alternate route. Still rush-hour on wet pavement, but you've eliminated the worst part of the road and traffic conditions by avoiding the Interstate.

    Keep the shiny side up... :)

    --Bill
    #13
  14. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Yep, part of staying safe (should you choose to do so) is avoiding those bad roads at those bad times.
    There are roads I consider it madness to ride at rush hour, and high risk during other times.
    Yet I see guys on choppers wearing no gear, with a girl on the back with no gear (and flip flops).

    I once made the mistake of riding up RT 1 in New Jersey when the traffic was heavy.
    Nothing like doing 55 mph with some woman in an suv 3 feet off your rear tire to get your attention, plus all the people changing lanes into you.
    Three times I had to ride between the barrier and a car that decided I did not count as a vehicle.
    Its not bad under light traffic, which now seems to be only late at night.
    Never again.

    I used to ride anywhere at any time when younger, back then, some people might have been drunk, but at least they were not drunk and texting.
    #14
  15. TO_ninja

    TO_ninja n00b

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    Just reading some face plant threads and stumbled onto yours. I am glad you're doing alright, a close call that could've ended differently. Like one of the other posters said, go buy a lottery ticket.

    Stay safe.
    #15
  16. DirtReeper

    DirtReeper Been here awhile

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    This happens to me quite frequently as mommies are chatting / texting while their kids are running amok in the back of the mini van and the little yippie dog is going ape shit in her lap. Hell, one even made eye contact before she did it. Well as soon as I'm done taking evasive action, i get right next to them tap on the window and give them a nice big :fyyff and some random shouting that I know they cant hear but makes me feel tons better. but this is Utah and people are fucking idiot drivers here, I guess that why i ride a KLR and stay on the dirt most of the time. :evil
    #16
  17. Mohawk Unit

    Mohawk Unit Been here awhile

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    Hi folks, thanks for all the kind words and such. Just to give you an update, things seem to be going pretty great, all things considered. Other than banging the scab on my wrist a few times I'm feeling good. I still need to fill that Valium prescription as I know it'll come in handy one day.

    I made out very well with the insurance dealings, they valued the poor guy at significantly more than what I paid, happy endings are good. Between that and the accessory insurance (seems like that's the typical 'adv' motorcyclist's best friend), I'm planning to parlay this ordeal for an 800gs, what I originally wanted but couldn't afford. Won't be surprised if the first thing I add is a flashing brake light.

    Very weird not being on a bike for more than a few days. After a winter of judicious plugging in of the heated jacket I'm looking forward to enjoying spring riding. Just finished patching up the holes in my gear with some goretex adhesive stuff, the battle damage will be a nice reminder.
    #17
  18. justme23005

    justme23005 Long timer

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    Glad to hear that you are ok... I ride that area often. I'm just off route 20, in Guilderland. I've had several close calls, due to people that are too stupid to drive.
    #18
  19. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Nothing like an upgrade!
    Maybe you can work your way up to your dream bike!
    #19
  20. fltclark

    fltclark Adventurer

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    The other guys insurance should also replace any damaged gear....
    #20