Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why All the Gear All the Time (agatt)?

Doesn’t that stuff get hot in the summertime? Isn’t it a pain to have to put all that stuff on every time you go to get on the bike? Everyone else thinks it looks more badboy to wear jeans, and a t-shirt or tank top. Other folks are riding in flip-flops and shorts.

Ok, what if….

What if you are making your morning commute down a crowded four-lane Atlanta highway? Traffic is running 60 mph. You see a flash of something out of the corner of your eye. You turn to see what it was – nothing. A car started to weave into your lane, but they saw their error and corrected. You look back up and the cars in front of you are all on their brakes and sliding to a stop. You grab your brakes. The back tire locks up and begins to slide. You are staring at the back of the car in front of you and considering the stopping distance. The backend of the bike starts the death wobble. It slides to the left then the right. Someone stated in a safety briefing you heard a few months ago to not release the rear brake in this instance as the bike will “High Side” if you do. The presenter said, “Ride it out. It will usually right itself”. On the fourth left to right motion of the rear sliding tire, the bike gets way out of shape to the right and you go down. You begin sliding face first on the asphalt and you can see the bike slide and bounce into the right lane and stop.

You are now lying face first in the right hand lane of a very busy highway during morning commute. First thought, “Am I alright to get up or do I have any injuries requiring me to lie still?” Second thought “I have to get out of this highway before the 2.5 million cars behind me run over me like a speed bump.” You decide that you are a bit bruised but ok. You can feel an abrasion on your wrist where the glove pushed up a little and the sleeve pushed down just a little. You can feel an abrasion on your cheek below your protective glasses. A full-face helmet would have prevented that one.

A kind-hearted gentleman helps you get the 800lb bike up and off to the side of the road. You inspect the damage to the bike and realize that it is all cosmetic. You convince the kind lady that was driving the car in front of you that you do not want an ambulance or a fire truck. You put the bike in neutral and start it. You inspect again, no runs, no leaks, no errors. A co-worker stops to check on you as traffic starts to move. You convince him that despite the blood trickling from your cheek that you are ok, and you are going to continue on to the office. You co-worker notes that the left shoulder of your Joe Rocket mesh jacket has sustained some damage but it has done its job. The body armor in the shoulder has been roughed up but you have not wounds under the jacket. You notice your leather chaps look seriously scuffed up, but they also have protected you. Your gloves are seriously scuffed up but other than your wrist where the glove pushed up. They also protected you. The right lens of your protective glasses have a huge area that is worn down that you can’t see through, but they are still intact and also protected you.

You look down at your right boot and notice the leather on the toe is scraped away enough you can see the steel in the tip of the toe. Those steel-toed boots were worth the price as well.


On your way to the office, you stop and pick up some 2x2 gauze pads, tape, and Neosporin from the local drug store. The lady behind the counter notes your cheek bleeding. You thank her for the information. You ride up to the office and head to the bathroom to cover the two abrasions. You walk into the office to a couple hundred questions and assure your co-workers you are ok. Your Monday has started a bit rough, but could have been a lot worse.

What would this story be like without the gear? No protective glasses – perhaps a damaged right eye. No helmet – perhaps the whole right side of your face and ear would be ripped up. No Jacket – damaged left shoulder. No Chaps – serious road rash on both knees. No gloves – road rash on both hands. No steel-toed boots – some seriously messed up feet.

Why do I wear protective gear all the time? Because I cannot predict when something like this is going to occur. I cannot stop, get off, and put it all on when I see it starting. Monday was a tough day of commuting in the biggest city in the south, but I am grateful I had on my gear. I am grateful neither I nor the bike struck anything and I did not break any bones. I am grateful for all of the kind folks that stopped and offered assistance. I am grateful I could ride on to the office and work a full day. I am grateful I can ride another day. The rest of the week I have evaluated what went wrong, what I did wrong, and what I can do to prevent this in the future. Lessons learned. Experience gained.

Ride Safe!
- Peace

13 comments:

Mrs Road Captain said...

Glad to hear that you and your bike are both O.K. The gear certainly helped in that. I have to admit that I am guilty of skimping on the jacket sometimes in the extreme heat, but I always wear my 3/4 helmet, gloves, long pants/jeans, and over-the-ankle sturdy leather boots.

AA said...

Sounds like it's time to move up to a full-face helmet.

Glad you turned out alright! (And who goes to work after having wrecked their motorcycle? I would have gone home!)

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Glad you were OK Allen. I don't wear my leather jacket in Arizona when it is over 90 degrees, but think it might be time to look into one of those Joe Rocket ones. I also witnessed a rider go down who had just taken her Joe Rider off and it wasn't pretty.

One Harley Rider said...

As a Wise Biker once told me. When you are deciding what to wear. Wear what you want to fall down in. Glad you are OK.

"Joker" said...

I think I'm one of very few in our little blogging community who like you has gone down and done the asphalt slide.

Unfortunately for me, I was more seriously hurt, and I'm still suffering from the effects of my injuries. I'm glad you walked away with a little blood on your cheek and some ruffed up gear.

My heavy boots did not save my leg from being broken, nor did they save me from having a completely dislocated ankle. They did, according to the responding fireman-paramedics, save me from losing my right foot altogether.

Dave @ Road Grits Cafe just did a post about why he always wears his leather vest, no matter how hot it is. Now you have posted about your gear. I have also posted about this in the past.

I just hope between the three of us, somebody is listening.

Ride Safe.

FLHX_Dave said...

Glad that you walked away from it. What you described here is almost that same thing that happened to me on my first, of four wipeouts. It was in the 80's before the helmet law. On that day I was wearing one. If I had not been wearing one I would not be here today, I have no doubt in my mind. No jacket so I had to sleep on my stomach for 3 weeks because my back was all tore up.

People don't want to see what you posted because it hits home pretty hard. Glad you posted this and thankful that you are around to post it.

You went to work? Hardcore brother, just hardcore!

Allen Madding said...

Thanks to everyone for their support and well wishes and to my chiropractor for helping get my neck turning left again.

After what Joker went thru, it would have been an insult for someone with some road rash and pulled muscles to lay out of work.

AZ, look into summer protective gear. After the brush with diesel a few weeks ago, I continue to realize how close I have been to testing gear more than I have.

Joker, I'm still just amazed you were able to ever return to riding. Everytime I read a ride post on your blog I think how fortunate you are to be alive, to be able to walk, and to be able to ride.

Dave, despite the amount of miles I've logged over the last 3 years, I continue to learn and at times still feel like a greenhorn. I wish I had the amount of years riding that you have. I'm grateful that despite the couple of screw ups I've had that I can continue to ride and learn. I shiver thinking about you having had roadrash on your entire back. That had to freaking suck outloud.

Y'all ride safe. I'm counting on gaining more knowledge from all of y'all.

"Joker" said...

Thanks Allen, I appreciate that; I really do.

Don't be amazed though. There was nothing keeping me from coming back. Even if I'd lost my foot - I'd have made those bastards stick a peg leg or whatever on me, and made it work with custom controls.

Riding has become my life. I guess once in a while, they call in the trade. Let's you and I offer up our middle digits to Mr. Death, and keep chalking up the miles.

KT Did said...

I am glad you are okay. Luckily for me I got good advice from my bloggers out there and went and bought a full face. I used it on the way to Phoenix and loved the protection it gives me. I always see the shorts and t-shirts here in So. Cal. and as much as I am one for "choice", I wear my mesh jacket in the summer (which works like a fan) or a jean jacket. Don't like the look and the feel of roadrash at all... and I have had it.
What's amazing is... you went to work! Gadzzzz! What a day!

Lady Ridesalot said...

Thanks go to our maker and the angels that kept you safe that day. It does hit home, hard, when you described every piece of your protective gear that was scuffed or torn by this experience. I will rethink not wearing a jacket,even it it's hot! Thank you for bringing this to the front of our minds, where it should be always! God bless you!

irondad said...

Thanks for helping spread the benefit of always being prepared, gear-wise. It's never fun to crash, at least for the people I know, but it was awesome that your gear did its job.

If you don't mind, I want to make sure a point about braking is clear. You were right in that if the rear tire is way out of alignment with the front, the chance of highsiding is high. The bike's rear end will do what you call the death wobble. When the rear tire is far to one side that's an out-of-control situation.

A lot of rider trainers still stay with the "anytime you lock the rear wheel, ride it out and don't let go".

Here's what I feel is a better way to go.

In order to avoid being in that out-of-control situation, as soon as you realize you are skidding either tire, immediately let go and then smoothly reapply. The chances of high siding are a lot less that way. The rider also retains the ability to change the bike's path of travel. A sliding rear tire takes that totally away.

I know you know this but I was sort of worried someone else might only see the "don't let go" part and get the wrong idea. Sorry, but I really fuss over this type of thing as you may have noticed!

Mr. Motorcycle said...

I'm really glad you are O.K., and around to tell the story and ride another day.

Road rash sucks. I'm not a newbie to it. In my 20 some yrs of riding, I've gone down 3 times. All three times I've never worn a helmet. (I know I'm tempting fate here.) I do contiously hold my head up during a slide, but yu only have so much control.

Once ejected from my bike by a Suburban hitting me in my left rear wheel. I had a leather jacket on, but only tennis shoes which flew off. I shredded my jacket, and got some road rash on the elbows and my feet.

I got in another accident highsiding during a slide. I did this instinctively to avoid the bike landing on my left leg. I ran out of road. I would have driven into a wood fence had I not done what I did.

Thirdly, I hit a guard rail at 65 mph, and bounced off of it, then the bike went down, and I slid about 100 feet. Boots, jeans, and a t-shirt. MAJOR right side arm road rash from that one!

I'm thinking bout wearing more gear, and I am buying a helmet now.

I'm kinda like joker. I'll continue riding, even if it kills me. Life without riding is no life at all.

Conchscooter said...

I love the two second rule. I am glad I got a lot of falling off done when I was young, I dread it now that I am less rubbery. Back then I kept going like nothing happened, out of youthful pride. Bit elderly for pride aren't you? Oh by the way, in case you hadn't noticed your cheek's cut up...more credit to you for not giving the poor dear a sharp comeback. Doug C recommends green chaps...