Tank slapper 1500 miles from home

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Elemental23, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. Elemental23

    Elemental23 n00b

    Jan 24, 2019
    I've been planning this trip for a year. Ride from Ottawa, Ontario through Utah and Colorado to the west coast and move to BC.

    I knew the Midwest would be the hardest part. So many miles until the desert and mountain regions I was so excited to see. So I decided to stop at Sturgis on the way to give myself a nice mid point.

    I was about 5 hours from Sturgis and had left my airbnb about an hour earlier. I had stayed with 2 people previously from the Bunk a Biker page on Facebook and had experienced amazing hospitality from both my hosts. I was sore from the long days of riding but feeling very positive.

    South Dakota had the straightest, longest, best-paved roads of the trip. I opened the throttle and started my day full of excitement. The landscape had finally changed and I really felt like I had started my adventure in earnest.

    Then the handlebars started to wobble. I'd never felt anything like that before. I pulled in the clutch and started to slowly apply the brakes. The wobble got worse. I wasn't sure if I should try to force them to stop or stay firm but loose. I took the middle path but the wobble had a mind of its own and I found myself thrown from the bike. The whole process took about 3 seconds.

    I had been wearing textile armored riding pants for most of the trip, but not wanting to change when I got to Sturgis, I had decided on just jeans for the day. I was wearing a new helmet (bell qualifier dlx with MIPS), an armored jacket with a back protector, Timberland boots that have seen better days, and new Dainese leather gloves. I guess I rolled once or twice before sliding on my back about 30 feet. I tried to keep my body as loose as possible while flying through the air. It's amazing how calm you can be when your life is at stake. I stayed loose, rolled, slid, and stood up, intact.

    I've been skateboarding for years. I react the same way in any fall. Get the board out of the road so I don't cause an accident, keep moving, get some water. My bike was lying in the grass. The top case was in the middle of the road, and one side case was further into a ditch. I got the top case out of the road and a farmer pulled up. He had seen the wobble but not the fall, as a hill had obscured his view. He asked if there was anything he could do. "I'm surprised you're walking" he said. I said I was ok but could use some water. He obliged, and passed me a bottle of water from the truck. He had just caught a skunk and said he was taking it home, but would be back to check on me. I had basically crashed into his front yard.

    I took off my helmet and gloves, got the other bag, and fished out my first aid kit. Keep moving. Get patched up, deal with the bike. Instead, I decided to lie down. I wasn't dizzy, but I felt a bit weak for a moment as it stared to hit me, and it was hot. I rested my head on my helmet and lay in the grass. It was the hottest day of my trip. About 35 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It was nice to lie down but it was so hot. I knew I needed to find shade.

    The farmer came back moments later. I asked if I could patch myself up in the shade in his property. He drove me to his garage and gave me some more water. I used some alcohol swabs from the first aid kit to wipe off my road rash and tied some gauze around the wounds. Most of the top layer of skin on my right knee was missing, and I had deeper abrasions on my hips, a couple milder ones on my left knee, and a few scrapes on my arm. My jeans were a bit shredded but it looked like nothing had fused into my skin. My jacket was melted where it had hit the road.

    He came back again to check on me and found me wrapping up my wounds. I had just enough gauze. He asked if there was anything else he could do, if I would like some mashed potatoes and roast beef. I accepted. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'm vegetarian but I ate the potatoes and his wife came out with a brownie for dessert.

    I had been going fast when I lost control. I've gone faster but not loaded down with that much luggage. I didn't realize I was so close to the limits of my vehicle. To fall going that fast though, I should probably be dead. I felt bad for inconveniencing this kind old couple, but they said they had plenty of time and were happy to help. I think they were happy they didn't have to call an ambulance or an undertaker.

    We were about 10 minutes out from Salem, South Dakota. I wanted to go to a clinic and get checked out by professionals. I felt ok but I don't know at what point you need a skin graft or whatever. But I was missing a side case, the one with my work laptop. The farmer agreed to wait for me while I beat the bushes looking for the bag. I needed to find at least that bag or I wouldn't be able to work next week. While I was stiffly climbing ditches and pushing through the tall grass, another guy pulled up in a big truck and offered his help. He said he worked in search and rescue and was happy I seemed to be OK. A blonde child maybe 8 years old with a Mohawk jumped out of the truck. He found my bag within a minute, even further down the road than I had been looking.

    The man's truck had a trailer attached and he offered to tow the bike into town to the mechanic. We managed to haul the bike into the trailer but the farmer got his foot caught under the bike somehow and fell. I later found out he had gashed his arm in the fall. We drove to the clinic stopping at the mechanic en route where we met up with the search and rescue guy. The mechanics also had blonde mohawks. They were brothers. Classic.

    Since it was a new bike and had EFI, they said I needed to get to a Suzuki dealer for the computer bits. The search and rescue guy offered to take me and the bike to Sioux Falls, about an hour away. I didn't want to make the search and rescue guy wait so I decided to get checked out later in Sioux Falls after my bike had been dropped off at the mechanic. I left the farmer at the clinic after we traded contact information and I expressed my gratitude. I felt so bad that he had been hurt, but he said he was ok and he seemed tough as hell. He told me he had turned 80 years old that spring.

    The search and rescue guy picked me up with his truck and his kids. The two boys had blonde mohawks. I knew I was jacked up on adrenaline and that I wouldn't know the extent of my injuries until later, but I felt ok. I kept thinking how lucky I was to be alive. How lucky I was that people had been there when I crashed to give me shade, water, food, and to help get me, my bike, and my bags out of the middle of nowhere to a city where I could figure out my next move. The search and rescue guy and the farmer had been telling me not to worry, that they were happy to help, that that's what country people do. I told them I had grown up in a small town but had lived in a city for 10 years and was feeling disillusioned. The search and rescue guy empathized with me, said that he had left his hometown and had been a bit reckless in his youth as a firefighter but ended up coming back to his home town. He was actively involved in charity and had recently obtained a grant for a program he had started to keep kids in outdoor sports, among other things.

    I should point out here that I have dreadlocks and was wearing all black with my favourite band t-shirt : "Death", with a big scythe forming the T, a black bandana over my dreads and my shredded jeans belted loosely over my bloody hips. I probably looked like trouble. This guy drove me an hour to Sioux Falls, dropped my bike at the mechanic, and drove me to a nearby motel where his kids helped bring my bags in. He wouldn't even let me give him any money for gas, just asked me to pay it forward.

    And that's all I kept thinking on the ride into town and for the rest of the day. I took this trip seeking a change in perspective after living in Ottawa for 10 years. I regret not wearing my riding pants that day. I regret going so fast on a bike that was probably over-loaded with camping gear, clothes, work stuff, etc. I regret letting an 80 year old man help move a giant broken machine onto a trailer, and I regret putting strangers, as well as my friends and family in a position where they were worried about me. But I kept thinking how different it would have been for them if I had suffered a head or neck injury, or lost a limb, or my life. How different it would have been for me if there had been no one around and I got dehydrated, my blood sugar dropped and I passed out in the sun, only to wake up later when the adrenaline had passed to have to walk to the nearest town on a broken foot.

    I owe those guys a debt I can never repay. I owe it to the world to give something back. I got out of that with nothing but some scrapes and a hairline fracture in my foot. That's insane.

    Now I'm at a motel in Sioux Falls. I spent most of the day today sleeping. I'm pretty sore now and moving, walking, sleeping are challenging. I'm in a walking cast for 6 weeks. The mechanic quoted me $4000US to put my engine in a new frame but the bike only cost me $4000 Canadian to begin with. I dont have collision insurance since I figured if I crashed, I'd be dead or maimed and unable to ride. I have this week off and had planned to work for the next 2 weeks in Colorado and Utah to explore in evenings and weekends before the last week of August which I had booked off to complete my trip through California and up to BC.

    Today I called Denny, the farmer, to thank him again, tell him I'm ok, and apologize for getting him hurt. He called me back and told me he was fine, not to worry, and even had the nerve to tell me that he's a good judge of character and that he thinks I'm a good person.

    I planned this trip to try to rearrange my priorities, change my perspective, and get a new lease on life. After a crash like that, my life could have been changed in a much darker way. Instead, I guess I did get what I wanted. I have a lot to live for now. A totalled bike and a shortened trip are nothing compared to what could have happened.

    I don't have many options at this point. I could try to ship the bike back to Ontario and work on it all winter but I've sublet my room in Ottawa as of September. My ex's parents even offered to borrow their neighbors trailer and drive down here to pick up me and the bike but I couldn't do that to them, it's over a thousand miles. A wrecker offered me $50 for what's left of my bike so unless there's another miracle that's probably what I'll have to do. I can't stay in this motel forever.

    I'm disappointed that I ran a marathon of a trip to get to Colorado and Utah and didn't even get to see them but that's always something I can do another year, being as I survived and all. It looks like I'm going back to Ontario until my foot is healed and I'll probably just fly to BC instead of arriving at the end of an epic road trip. People have asked me if I'll keep riding and I think I will. I don't have fear when I think about being on a bike. It probably would have been a different story if I hadn't been helped by such amazing people or if my injuries had been more severe.

    Maybe I'll get a bike in BC or maybe I'll stick with a cage for the winter and try to take another run at this trip next summer. I didn't get the badass shots of myself riding through mountains and deserts but I did get to connect with amazing people every step of the way on the journey I did take. I'm going to focus my energy on finding ways to give back in my free time, I think that's the best thing I can do. As for the v strom, I need to figure out if it's worth it to ship it home or if I should just abandon it to the wrecker. I loved it and it served me well, and I'll be sad to see it go. Not to mention that it cost me the entirety of my savings. But bikes can be replaced and I'm just grateful that I get a second chance.

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  2. neanderthal

    neanderthal globeriding wannabe

    Nov 26, 2006
    Here, but lost. Am I lost if i know i'm here?

    Important thing is that you are well. Good luck.
    Hannda and Elemental23 like this.
  3. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    You've a debt you can repay by paying it forward, just like you were told to do. The opportunity will arise, probably several times in your life.

    The offer from your ex's parents is real. If it works, take it. If the bike is really not worth bothering with, sell it for $50 and let it go. You don't have to decide this today, and it sounds like today isn't a good day for decisions.

    'Tis good when you can let go and bask in the care of others. When you let them, many folk will indeed show you kindness. Graciousness by you goes a long ways with this.

    Yes, your planned trip has gone sideways. Congratulations, you get to try a new adventure now. A very different one than you were planning! Sounds like you've the flexible mind to takei t as it comes. Who knows, you might even find yourself there for a while working for a garage or a trucker or an old farmer. Not necessarily a bad adventure all by itself.
  4. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

    Jan 13, 2013
    Beautiful BC
    Glad you are mostly ok. Quite the story. How fast do you figure you were cruising when the slapper came on? How fast when you went down? I had a 14 Strom for a few years. Never felt any sort of instability. If those pictures show your bike loaded up, doesn't look like that much is on it.
  5. Elemental23

    Elemental23 n00b

    Jan 24, 2019
    Thanks guys. It's possible that I was going close to 100mph. I don't think I lost much speed before I hit the ground.

    I work 9-5 online for a mental health company so as long as my computer is ok I can still work my normal job. I'm going to try to widen the hole in my side case today to check on the laptop.

    I don't think I'll be camping while I'm still this cut up and I can't stay in this motel forever so I think I'll cut my losses and fly back to Ontario without the bike. I'll need some follow up x-rays in 6 weeks so I should probably go back home where I can have them covered. I put up an ad on uship so if I can have my bike shipped cheap maybe it will be worthwhile, maybe someone will want to take on a rebuild project but idk. I'm not sure you can insure rebuilt bikes in Ontario either.

    I'm extremely lucky that my ex's parents made such a kind offer. She's also offered to help me out while I recover. It's that or I move back in with my parents for a month before I move to BC. My mom says I should avoid breaking my ex's heart again by letting her take care of me and then leaving again. I definitely don't want to take advantage of her but she wants me to come back so badly it's going to hurt her either way. It's tricky because she knew I was planning to move to bc even before we got together and she got more attached than I think either of us were expecting. I'd definitely rather recover with her at my side but I have to think about what's best for her as well. As for her parents bringing a trailer, she asked me to let her know asap as they're planning another trip. But I couldn't make that decision yesterday. And I know they're retired and just travelling around anyway but it still seems like a crazy thing to ask of them.

    It sucks to abandon the v-Strom but I think I'll just get a smaller, cheaper bike in Victoria and spend my free time taking shorter trips around the island. If I do attempt this desert adventure again, it will be with less gear and possibly a steering damper.

    I have always felt that going slow on my ninja felt faster than going fast on the vstrom. I also don't know if I'll be so keen to test the limits of future bikes. But perhaps this is telling me that I'm more suited to small displacement sport bikes than mid displacement adv. The top speed difference between the Ninja and vstrom honestly seemed negligible which I thought was odd but I guess the extra power just goes into hauling capability and low end torque. Either way, the v was a good comfortable ride and it fully sucks that I destroyed it.

    Still, lived to ride another day. Learned some things, and still moving across the country. I'm gonna try to stay positive and focus on being ready for opportunities to help others the way I've been helped.

    Thanks for reading my story, and all advice is definitely appreciated.
    thanosgp likes this.
  6. Honolulubimmer

    Honolulubimmer island-locked 20x40

    May 27, 2016
    Honolulu Hawaii
    There are so many things to say.

    Locally (in Hawaii) the help you were given is what we call kokua: assistance without thought of reward, simply because you can and it's the right thing to do. You'll have many opportunities, large and small, to return that to the world. Call it karma, call it whatever else you may.

    You sound like you've predetermined to ride again. It doesn't have to be so. You probably aren't in a good mental situation to make longterm decisions, so focussing on the immediate future is primary.

    You seem to want to avoid your ex, though you only say you don't want to break her heart again. It doesn't have to be so, either way. Plenty people remarry previous spouses.

    You don't mention counseling or religion. I'm not either of those. However, after a tap on the shoulder by The Man upstairs, many a wise person will take the hint to back off a little. I've surfed all over Hawaii including the North Shore on days large and small and wiped out everywhere. Some perspective on the risks of life is a good thing. If you were doing a ton with a goodly load, that touch you got is properly making you look at your situation. We read of major risk takers that suddenly find themselves in Wile E. Coyote's familiar position: they've run off the edge of the cliff and suddenly realization occurs.... Wile E. can't fly.

    John rented my downstairs and one day he and his bike got run over by a truck while stopped at an intersection. Just like that. Amazingly he was almost completely unhurt but the bike was damaged. A few days later he went in for previously scheduled brain surgery and a large benign tumor was removed but it was months before he could ride again, so he got some cheapo econobox. Eventually he went to the dealership, insurance check in hand. The person who met him there told him to take it easy, look around, we have coffee and donuts over there. I met John that afternoon when I got home and he was in a high state of excitement.
    "Guess what I did!"
    "I got a new bike!"
    How much brain did they really take out?

    He didn't get the joke.
  7. BywayMan

    BywayMan Been here awhile

    Mar 1, 2018
    thanosgp and Elemental23 like this.
  8. playinatwork

    playinatwork Been here awhile

    Jul 30, 2010
    Jacksonville FL
    @Elemental23 I know exactly what you mean about the after affects and how your life changes. Your report sounds very similar to mine. Let's hope we can pay it forward enough to matter.
    thanosgp and Elemental23 like this.
  9. oldspice1972

    oldspice1972 Been here awhile Supporter

    May 24, 2009
    iowa city, ia
    Scary stuff - glad you came out of it relatively unscathed. I think your attitude towards the accident and aftermath are very mature and well thought out - good on you! Get healed up, get some of that "life stuff" arranged, take a deep breath, and I'll bet you'll be back on the road in no time!
    thanosgp likes this.
  10. thanosgp

    thanosgp Xr rules

    Aug 22, 2016
    Glad you're ok mate,haul the bike home,take it apart and sell the parts that are ok.
    Wish you best of luck for the future!