KLR vs. a moose

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Night Ryder, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. Night Ryder

    Night Ryder Been here awhile

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    Reposted from my blog: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fu...endID=36849828

    As most of you know, I was working at a campground in southern Alaska the summer of '05. Nine dollars an hour plus free camping to do simple maintenance and parking management. As explained in another post, my friend Aryana & I wound up in Alaska by the skin of our teeth with no return tickets. Somewhere in the following weeks I decided that what I needed to do was buy a used motorcycle and ride it back to Louisiana at the end of the summer. Riding the Al-Can Highway had long been a goal of mine. Fate had robbed me of my chance on the way up, but I still had the trip back. I searched the Anchorage Daily News and found a great used bike: a KLR 650, the biggest of all Kawasaki dirt bikes. The previous owner had used it for trips to Canada, and was selling it with low mileage at a good price. It had a comfortable seat, large windshield, highway pegs, centerstand, 6 gallon gas tank, and a locking trunk big enough to hold a weeks worth of clothes. All useful when you plan to travel 5000 miles. He even threw in a good helmet. The insurance was cheap, and I bought one year of full coverage with medical benefits. I hitched a ride to Anchorage, took a loan against my credit card, and rode back to camp on one mean green highway-eating machine. Come September, I was headed for my greatest adventure yet.
    [​IMG]
    (stock photo)

    Up until then I had gone everywhere on foot or by bicycle, so it was a real joy to be able to get somewhere by motorbike. I could go to town to buy a block of cheese and a box of cereal without hitching a ride. I could get around. I could get out. Saturday night I decided that instead of sitting around the campfire in broad daylight, I was going to town. I headed 15 miles east and hung out at the Sunrise Inn, and then headed 50 miles west and went to Goodtime Charlies (there's a lot of space between things in Alaska) At 2am, sober but tired, I headed home. Now the sun Is up 22 hours a day on the Kenai peninsula in July, but when it finally gets dark, its DARK. No streetlights. No cities. Just the moon and 10 billion stars if its clear enough. That night it was overcast. The highway doesnt pass through suburbs and farmland (by the way, Alaska has excellent highways: Your tax dollars at work), when you leave town youre in the forest. The one flaw of the KLR 650 is its square headlight. I could clearly see everything ahead and along the sides of the road as long as I traveled at 55 mph. The speed limit was 70. I was doing 65. All the way up there were warning signs indicating moose crossing, but I wasnt worried, I can see a moose coming down the highway, and a moose would certainly see me. I was tired, a little cold and not really paying attention. The last thing I remember was reaching down to adjust the foot peg.

    I was sleeping very soundly, but there were people over there saying something... Now they were over here saying something... Where was I?... At home in bed?... No, wait... Sleeping in my tent in camp... sleep... Someone was picking something up off of my legs. Picking me up. Asking me questions. Ok ok, I'm awake. Whats going on? It's dark except for the beams from a pair of headlights. My foot hurts. Did I just crash? Where am I? The fingers on my right hand hurt a lot. They ask me if I'm all right. "I'm ok. Tank you. Wat appened?" I seem to have bit my tongue. They tell me I crashed my motorcycle into a moose on the highway.

    [​IMG]
    (Not the actual moose)

    I ask them if theyre sure, they point to some animal hair stuffed into that square headlight housing. There are only 2 large animals in that part of the Kenai: bears and moose, and there werent any bear crossing signs. My bike and I together weighed 600lbs. An adult moose can weigh over 1000 pounds and stands 6 foot high at the shoulder. What little information I have (which includes moose crap smeared along the left side of the bike) suggests that the moose ran out right in front of me (as moose are wont to do) and I struck its hindquarters deflecting sideways into the gravel like a cue ball. The moose likely got out with a scare and a serious bruise on its ass. I was a little worse off. The whole experience had dreamlike quality, but by the time the ambulance got to the hospital, the shock was wearing off, and I was starting to feel like I had crashed a motorcycle. When the x-rays came back, all I had was a broken left finger, and a broken right heel bone. Well, that and being covered with cuts and bruises. I felt like I had been jumped by a street gang. They sent me home with 2 splints and a pair of crutches. I crawled into my tent and slept for 20 hours. The following day I went to see a specialist. My left hand was set in a plaster cast with 3 fingers free, and my right foot was put in a removable boot cast.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The next 6 weeks were an adventure of a different sort. Suddenly everyday activities like getting dressed and making lunch were a real challenge. A national park, is not a handicap friendly place. There was one particularly disturbing instance when a bear walked into camp to check out someones breakfast. My fellow campers made a lot of noise and eventually chased the bear off, but it took me ten entire minutes to put my foot on and get out of my tent to see what was happening. Very discouraging. The retired couple that ran the campground was accommodating, assigning me a stationary job in the entry booth, and offering me rides to and from my shift. Ten days later, I re-learned to ride a bicycle (pump with the good leg, roll with the bad. Pump with the good leg, roll with the bad) and was able to get myself to work and around in general. About a month after the accident my broken foot was well enough that I got a ride to town and picked up a walking cane. I was so happy with my new cane, I asked the guys to take a picture.

    [​IMG]

    The insurance declared the bike a total loss and paid me the value of the bike, as well as $9000 in medical bills (X-rays are expensive). After everything was said and done I broke even on the whole thing and even got a good deal on a one way ticket to New Orleans (which had to be changed to Lafayette thanks to Katrina).

    All in all, it was one hell of a summer.
    #1
  2. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

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    Ouch. Moose scare me. :uhoh
    #2
  3. El Guero

    El Guero Long timer

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    Crazy first post! I trust you are doing a little better now? I see you did go and get yourself a heavier and lower bike, maybe you can just ride underneath the next moose you find! :D
    #3
  4. SloNEZ

    SloNEZ Guano Loco

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    I'm with Big!
    Outstanding first post - you are clearly an adventurer.
    Here's hoping that you get another dual sport and another crack at that Al-Can ride, Brother.
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    wow!! consider yourself very lucky to have survived such an impact! heal well and get back in the saddle :thumb
    #5
  6. Stromdog

    Stromdog Howl at the Moon

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    Hope you're healing up well. Those moose are BIG! Sounds to me like you got off relatively easy compared to what's happened to others that have hit large animals on the road. Still sucks being disabled, though. Gives you a whole different outlook on people that are permanantly disabled.

    I'm very paranoid about large critters at night getting in front of me. I've had numerous close calls with white tailed deer over the years, so really keep an eye on the ditches for those tell tale shining eyes. I've gone so far as to install a set of running lights on my fork lowers and have them pointed down and to the right and left to help see better.
    #6
  7. jgas

    jgas Stoogely Adventurerer

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    I hate you, you Moose killer! You even bought a KLR, otherwise known as a "Killer"! I'm calling PETA, Earth First, Sierra Club, and last but not least, the NAACP! You used an assault weapon on a poor innocent animal! How dare you!

    (I've hit 2 cows, 2 dogs, a turkey, too many snakes, possums, and armadillos. Had a squirrel jump on my leg once. No moose or deer, hope to never. The first dog was about a 130 lb coon dog, he was taller than my front wheel. I went over the bars at about 50mph, had gravel pop out of my back for 20 yrs. Right after that, I bought my first chest protector).
    #7
  8. Mike Butt

    Mike Butt Agent Provocateur

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    Moose are dumb. Glad you are healing.
    #8
  9. CalebTheBarbarian

    CalebTheBarbarian Adventurer

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    Glad you made it through all right... those pesky moose are known to total semi's!

    Certainly makes a great story at any rate!
    #9
  10. Night Ryder

    Night Ryder Been here awhile

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    Hey thanks for all the well wishes, but that was 2 years ago so I've had plenty of time to recuperte and plan my revenge... I will return to Alaska one day, maybe even on the V-Rod.

    I've also had alot of time to think about how I could have avoided that accident. If you go back and read the second paragraph, I mention no less than 6 things that I shouldn't have been doing that night. Can anyone tell me what I was doing wrong?

    For more reading fun, follow the link to my Blog at the top of the page and find out about the car we toatled on the way up, the 30 mile day hike from hell, and riding bicycles on a dirt trail with a bear behind us.

    All in all, it was one hell of a summer. :nod
    #10
  11. Stromdog

    Stromdog Howl at the Moon

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    The two biggest were: riding tired and over riding your headlights range. Not sure if any others would top these two.
    #11
  12. roadhawg

    roadhawg stromin

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    Sounds like you were lucky, it could have been worse. good choice on the insurance. To spend a summer in alaska working at a campground though, Only a dream to me, you did it, awsome. Ill get there some day
    #12
  13. Night Ryder

    Night Ryder Been here awhile

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    Right up with those two my biggest mistake was riding at night in Alaska. On either side of that highway are hundreds of miles of wilderness, and it was folly to go riding through it in the dark. If I had just waited a couple of hours for the sun to come up, I could have posted pictures of my 5000 mile road trip instead of pictures of my hand cast...

    That's ok. Lesson learned. Next time it will be daylight hours only.
    #13
  14. svs

    svs Posts too much... Supporter

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    I got that same damm look back in 1980.....Funny as hell. Aren't motorcycles fun!

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. boldrider

    boldrider boldrider

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    I was a lot luckier, and don't know if this meets the thread criteria, but here goes:

    October 31, 2004. I had purchased my new ride, a 2004 R1150GSA with 10.6K on the clock, in Chicago, and was riding back to my (then) place in Buhl, Idaho. This was leg 3, riding from MPS-ST Paul up through Fargo and straight across ND. It was getting dusk as I left Bismark, but I decided to press on for Dickinson, as there was snow forecast for Western Montana in a couple of days, and I hoped to beat it. I should have stopped...
    I was tooling along on I84, making good time, but darkness caught me. I had been holding 80 on the clock (75 actual, with the error), and as it got dark, I dropped back to 70 indicated. There were deer warning signs along the roadway, and I had my floodlights on in addition to high beam whenever there was no oncoming traffic, even though the highway is separated in those parts by a pretty good median distance.
    I was almost to Dickinson, probably less than 10 miles to go, and it was by then, pitch dark, with no moon. I must have looked down at the RPM or speedo, or something, because, all of a sudden, there were two deer in the road, one in my lane (right hand lane), just to the right of the lane, and the other entering my lane from the left. I didn't have time to even twitch. I estimate they were 100 feet from me when I saw them, but surprise always makes things seem closer than actual. At 65MPH actual speed, I was covering almost 100 Ft/sec, and before I could even blink, I hit the one on the left.
    I thought maybe my left leg was gone, it hurt so bad. The bike hardly even wavered, but I lost about 20 MPH in a flash. The headlight was still on, and I could not believe I was still upright and on the road. I finally got enough courage to look at my left leg (BTW, I was ATGATT), and, sure enough, it was still there.
    I thought about stopping to check the deer, but decided it was beyond help. About that time, a car pulled by on my left, and didn't indicate anything out of the ordinary, so I kept going. My leg hurt like Hell, and I figured I might as well continue on into Dickinson and survey the damage.
    The front mud guard was gone ahead of the forks. Both of my floods were smashed, one hanging by the wiring. I didn't have panniers on the bike, and the left side was covered with deer shit. There was a small quarter-sized dent, about 1/8th inch deep on the forward right side of the tank---there to this day. That was it!
    I took a fistful of Advil and went to bed, then rode on west the next day, arriving home in Buhl the day after that. It turned out, about two weeks later, when my Dear Wife prevailed on me to see a doctor, that I had broken the fibula on my left leg, but it was not displaced, and I didn't even have it cast, as it is not a weight-bearing bone.
    I guess I must have struck the deer in the right shoulder, and the impact swung him/her around against the left side of the bike. That big, ugly, German monster barely even quiverered, and plunged on through. A couple of feet farther into my lane, and both of us would have been toast, as he/she would have come right over the top.
    I keep saying he/she, because I still don't know it it was a buck or a doe, and whether it was a muley or a white-tail. I think it was a buck muley, but it is just a guess.
    Lessons learned: 1) BE VERY CAREFUL ALL THE TIME IN DEER COUNTRY, WHICH MEANS DAMNED NEAR EVERYWHERE THESE DAYS. 2) Do not ride at night if you can at all avoid it---there are drunks out there as well as deer lurking to kill you. 3) Slow the eff down at dusk or in the dark. Just because you are on a turnpike or freeway does not mean there are no critters around. 4) Be lucky. This is the best advice. I would always rather be lucky than smart...
    If you are good, I may tell you about the time I fell off and broke 4 ribs, or the time I clipped the bus in Mexico...
    #15
  16. ClayLR

    ClayLR Been here awhile

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    At least the deer stay sober. Drunken moose and bears appear in the papers from time to time.
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. bostonsr

    bostonsr Just weight

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    oh and here i thought this was a story about a moose fixing a broken down KLR on some single track in the great white north.

    cuz, ya know, anyone can work on a KLR...even a moose.

    hey, glad you're ok man...that coulda gone a lot worse. you have a heck of a story, and a knack for telling it. here's to silver linings:clap .

    abe
    #17
  18. Night Ryder

    Night Ryder Been here awhile

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    Bump
    #18
  19. InsuredDisaster

    InsuredDisaster Sam's Summer Camp

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    What that the sound of another moose getting to know you?
    #19
  20. Night Ryder

    Night Ryder Been here awhile

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    Seeing if I can top 2500 views :norton
    #20