Tuesday, October 16, 2007

All in a day's Sojourn

Saturday found Andy and me on the Annual Fall Foliage Ride with the New England Riders. This ride, as always, is a pleasure. Wingman plans his route with care so that we come away with the best motorcycling experience New England has to offer. It isn’t the ride in particular that I want to write about, but the aftermath, which could have resulted in a much worse scenario than how it came to unfold.

Last week, I struggled with a head cold. You know the symptoms, headache, sore throat, cough and general body ache. Despite feeling fine Saturday morning, the afternoon found me feeling fatigued and bit out of sorts. Add to this, a foreign substance irritating my eye, and you start to set up circumstances that should be given more attention that I was willing to give them at the time.

Our last leg home found us riding down Burton Highway from Temple into Wilton. This stretch of road is narrow and twisty, with some rough patches here and there. It’s downhill all the way to route 31 in Wilton. Just at the junction of Burton Highway and Isaac Frye, I hit gravel in the roadway. My back tire started sliding out from under me. To right the bike I began to counter steer, which alas would take me straight into the woods. Not a scenario I wanted. The shoulders are soft here, and I hit this hard. I corrected the steering and rode the soft shoulder as if I were in some freestyle motocross competition, while at the same time progressively braking harder and harder to slow Jade down. I didn’t want to lock up the brakes, spill the bike or hit trees. I estimate I did this for about 500 feet before I slowed enough to eventually coax Jade back on the pavement. All the while, I prayed that this was not one of the roads washed out by the summer rains. If that were the case I was in danger of hitting the granite stones used to fill in all the washed out shoulders in town. I was thankful not to encounter any granite chunks. I made the rest of the ½-mile trip home without incident.

Here are the factors I believe led to this unfortunate end to a wonderful day. I was cold, fatigued and hungry. My eye was hurting something fierce and I couldn’t see very well once sunset occurred. If I had paid attention to all of these, I would have realized I should not be riding. I could have pulled over, and let Andy know that I needed to pick my way home carefully instead of trying to be the female version of macho. Once home, my legs cramped suggesting dehydration as well. The eye still hurt like a son of a gun. When I woke on Sunday, my eye was blood red. Andy thought I looked possessed; an extra just stepped out of the cast of Exorcist. I’m now nursing a damaged cornea and trying not to scratch this itchy eye.

I credit keeping the bike up with all of the parking lot practice I have done over the past few years with the motorcyclist friends I used to work with. I haven’t had much practice this summer, but I will begin again during lunch hours again next season. They saved me from going down. In addition, all the books I read of David Hough’s were a considerable benefit. I strongly suggest reading any or all of his books. He has spent a lifetime on motorcycles, has studied accident scenes and reports, and states call to him for advice when investigating the cause of motorcycle accidents. The advice and tips in these books flashed through my mind at lightning speed while keeping me and Jade out of the woods. Christmas is coming, so consider giving one or more of these titles to the motorcyclist in your life.

Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well
More Proficient Motorcycling: Mastering the Ride
Street Strategies: A survival Guide for Motorcyclist (my personal favorite)
I’m happy to report that the worst thing the doctor told me was not that I had to wear a patch, or could not drive but that I could not read or (gasp!) write for a 24-hour period. I still look possessed by the devil, and I have no idea what got into my eye. As my handle on the forum would suggest, it is all in a day's Sojourn.

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