Motorcycle Riding on the Razor Edge of Life and Death

Motorcycle Life DeathEVERY MOTORCYCLE RIDERS HAS HAD CLOSE CALLS. Which of yours were so close that you were in disbelief that a tragedy simply failed to materialize when it should have? (Write your experience below).

The events that have really been on the edge of life and death for me, are some of my most vivid recollections.

Yesterday I was riding home from some meetings in Los Angeles and got cut off on the highway. Of course this happens regularly to motorcycle riders. It’s happened to me so many times over the years that I don’t consider them worthy of comment. (If you ride every day – stuff happens).

Very few of these past experiences have been remarkably close calls – the ones I consider truly life threatening. At least for me, an event that requires a slight swerve, or minor unplanned braking, is typically not close enough to have really been life threatening. These are the kind of incidents where simple alertness prevented the majority of potential mishaps from ever becoming anything more than an inconvenience.

Much rarer still is biting the pavement, which I’ve done a few times, too, resulting in motorcycles crashed beyond repair and various personal (and painful) injuries. Although, in two of my street-riding crashes, they were not a result of someone cutting me off: they were classic rider errors on my part – more than 20 years apart – which were the kinds of experiences I needed to really establish a much greater respect for very defensive, safe-riding practices. (In my view, off-road minor mishaps are another matter altogether and simply part of the adventure).


But yesterday afternoon was one of those experiences that was so unique, that I felt inspired to mark the occasion with a few words and to see if others might have similar experiences.

To be as brief as possible, I was riding home on an 8-lane divided highway that has rain grooves, which are common in California. The temperature was mild in the late afternoon. The sky was overcast, so there was no bright sun in anyone’s eyes. Traffic was moving along at 65 mph, which was as fast as anyone could go, since the quantity of vehicles filled all lanes. Hence, I had cars relatively close on my left, right, behind me and in front of me.

The car on my left jumped into my lane so fast that it was only a result of some instinctive reaction that had me jam on the front and rear brakes so hard that I was partially launched out of my seat.

Traffic was moderately congested. The lane I was in was moving a little faster than the lane on my immediate left, and the guy did a sharp swerve into my lane to get in front of the car behind me. Unfortunately, I was in that same spot, and he did not see me. I was instantly aware that I was in his blindspot as he jumped into my lane without recognizing that he was going to sideswipe my motorcycle and turn me into a hood ornament for the car that was just behind me, on my right.

Instinctively, I swerved as far right in my lane as possible, without actually crossing into the next lane, but I could see there was not enough space to avoid getting hit.

Furthermore, as I was mid-launched off my seat with the heavy braking force, and with the right-rear-fender of the encroaching car actually underneath my fairing, while my front tire was tucked within his wheel well, my handlebars started shaking violently as I was simultaneously attempting to mentally plan my personal trajectory in hopes of controlling the ensuing damage right there in the middle of the highway. Amidst everything that was flashing through my mind as supersonic speed, oddly enough, the violent shaking of the handlebars seemed to capture my imagination as the most unusual element in this situation, while I muscled the bars to maintain some semblance of cooperation. But with all that happening instantly, there was no collision. In another split second my braking force allowed the offending vehicle to pull in front of me and I let off the brakes to avoid getting run over by the car behind me and the handlebars returned to their normal steady position. I pulled back into the center of the lane to give myself more space away from the car I was dangerously close to, on my right.

Realize that it takes longer to read these words than it did for this event to unfold from an immediate crisis to a mere “close call.”


Part of what was remarkable about the event, for me, was how I was able to manage the moment with acute clarity and control, without any sense of panic. Heck, I’ve gotten more perturbed at folks who cut me off and made me swerve, but knowing that it was simply an inconvenience. In other words, in most cases I’m so confident about what is unfolding that I don’t even recognize a real threat, any emotion is simply a result of being irritated.

In this case I was quite aware that I had just survived something – something impressive – at least to me.

The uniqueness of this close call was such that I was left incredulous that a crash did not happen.

I did not have a sense of annoyance that sometimes might accompany my reaction to something that I was confident would not have turned bad. In this case, I had no such confidence. From my perspective, the crash appeared as a foregone conclusion and the real question was “Would I survive?”

In fact, I felt no frustration. Conversely, I felt a renewed regard for simply being alive. I was not pleased with this guy’s action, but I held no ill will towards him. Don’t get me wrong, my thinking towards such drivers is not always so high-spirited!


The point of all this, is that it appeared to me I was riding on the very razor edge of life and death, and I came away from it more respectful of life and living, rather than harboring an annoyance at the offending driver. That is what marks the occasion, to me, as something notable.

Traffic all around me continued on its way, and I don’t believe the vehicle that nearly toppled me had any awareness of what he just caused.

I just continued as if nothing happened and passed him a few seconds later.

Anytime some potential motorcycle mishap occurs, I mentally take stock of the moment and derive some lesson that often boils down to “What could I do in the future to avoid such a circumstance again?” And usually I come up with a plausible mental note for myself and chalk it up as gaining more rider experience.

In this case, there was not much of anything different I could say I’d do if this were to repeat. Obviously, we all do our best to stay out of the blindspots of other vehicles. However, when a rider is surrounded by this amount of traffic, one is likely to be moving through someone’s blind spot, on the left and/or right, at any time.


Hence, my takeaway lesson from the experience was the recognition that periodically practicing emergency braking was what saved the day. In other words, the instinctive and instantaneous reaction to this life-threatening situation was a result of some years of preparing for the moment something this close might occur.

In all probability, you are likely to have had a number of close calls, too. But have you had any that were so close that you were in disbelief that a tragedy simply failed to materialize when it should have? Leave your comment below.

97 thoughts on “Motorcycle Riding on the Razor Edge of Life and Death

  • I commute by bike to work. riding pretty much the same route every days. One day coming home, my mind not where it should have been…on the road..I noticed the light changing ahead and for some stupid reason, rather than slowing down I tried to speed up to make it through on the yellow. Well this would have worked OK if I was going straight on through. The thing is I was coming to the end of the road and had to make a left turn….An intersection that I had ridden thru literally hundreds of time before. Anyway, I went into the turn with way to much speed. I guess the 30+ years of riding kicked in about then because all I really remember about the whole ordeal is riding down the road after somehow making that turn. I thought for sure that the 850lb cruiser that I ride was going to go down.

  • I was riding my Yamaha 400 down an old two-lane country rode in central MS the day after there had been flooding rains in the area. I was going down a long steep hill, at the bottom of which was a bridge that spanned a small creek. As I approached the bridge, doing about 60 mph, I noticed that there was a lot of debris (sticks, leaves and dirt) all along the sides of the road and some on the bridge. I didn’t notice that a portion of the pavement had completed washed out until I was practically on top of it. The crater in the road was about four feet across by two feet, and a foot deep. With no time to swerve, I instinctively stood up on the pegs, gunned the throttle, and pulled up on the bars with all my might. Miraculously my front wheel missed the hole entirely, but the rear wheel did not. The rear wheel hit the edge of the pavement with full force, bottoming out the shock and sending the bike into a front wheel wheelie. I rode the front wheel for what seemed like long distance but I’m sure it was just a few yards. I came back down hard on the rear wheel, almost losing control of the bike, before pulling to the side of the rode. I got off and sat in the roadside grass a long time, counting my blessings.

  • My old man has done near 500 000miles, fairly incident free. Why? becuase his patient , not agresive and knows his the lesser road user so stays imensely aware of observing vechiles around him and what theyre doing, thats it, nothing more.

  • I had owned my first big bike for just over two weeks when a friend, with a lot more experience and a huge amount of confidence, asked me if I’d like to go on a 1000 mile round trip to Wales (UK). The first two days went perfectly and we had a great time. On the third day we started heading home again and I felt a new wave of confidence feeling like I could do anything. I was following my friend through a small town just like any other when we approached a bend at a speed I would normally consider to be too fast but I went for it thinking “If he can, I can”. Having never attempted to lean that far before I bottled it and went straight onto the wrong side of the road at around 45mph. I passed just in front of a car coming towards me and stopped on the far side. In a panic, I kicked down the gears and tried to get back on my side of the road. Stalled. Dropped the bike forcing a lorry to swerve passed me. Picked up the bike and got away to find my friend who thought the whole thing was hilarious.
    Before getting the bike I had read countless websites like this one, learning how to tackle bends and all the rest but it just goes to show:

    You never really learn anything till you experience it for yourself.

  • I guess this should have cured me from all other scares but when I lived in Los Angeles and working in San Fernando, I was heading to work using the Golden State Frwy when I was traveling about 70 in the #1 lane approaching a pickup truck with a camper shell traveling in the #2 lane. We approached an overpass and as we went over it, the camper shell lifted up, came down and now sat sideways on the bed of the truck. As we went over the overpass, the truck went over the second bump and the camper shell lifted off entirely falling on the pavement skidding sideways towards me. I downshifted, increased my speed and did a quick counter-steer to manuver around the shell as it moved across my lane behind me exploding against the center divider. The pickup truck just kept going and I was early to work that day.

  • This morning was sunny and beautiful..It is supposed to be 99 degrees later this afternoon so I thought I would go out for a little morning ride before it got too hot..Everything was going along nicely..I was winding through the shady country roads at about 45 mph on my little BMW F800 ST.I was approaching a left hand turn when suddenly a big silver SUV was coming towards me sliding into my lane..I thought that surely he would correct himself and get back into his lane but he didn’t.The next thing I knew I was frozen with fear as the suv was only inches off my left side..Wham!!..His sideview mirror hit my left arm like a baseball bat!..I thought for sure my arm would be broken and I pulled over and got off my bike.. Unbelievably there was only a bruise and a little soreness (at least right now) and knowing I had just escaped certain death by a matter of an inch or two..The driver never stopped or came back to check on me.. I am not sure If I can ever ride again after this…Time will tell I guess

  • 3 words…Tin Barn Road. I am very fortunate to live in Northern California where hwy1 is my backyard with so many twisty back roads to choose from it’s hard to decide which direction to go. I ride for the challenge these roads demand, working to triple speed corners on the roads I know best. Tin Barn Road is one of them. It’s surface varies but since I knew the road I knew what to avoid… so I thought. Since this accident took place 10 years ago I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and about riding but this is a story about when I was doing 80mph from the last 25 mph corner exit into an off camber corner scattered with gravel that wasn’t there the week before… as if this was my own private track. I geared down and started to break when I felt my front tyre do the wobble I let off the throttle and my rear tyre started to step out. The outside of the turn was a small bank and a drop off into the woods. I low sided when I thought for sure a high side was what was ordered up. My bike and I go down at apx 70mph, skidding towards the bank and over the hill. As I was sliding I watched as my bike slammed into the bank which was nothing more than leaves and dirt, the same as what stopped my slide as well. I stood up without a bump, bruise or scratch ran to my bike that also had not a cosmetic flaw. Here it is 10 years later and I’d do it again, but this time I would have ridden the piece of road first before treating it like my own personal track, and have witty come backs for my riding pals that came up after my crash with “you idiot” for consolation, the same pals that were trying to triple corners same as me.

  • On our way back from a long weekend, 3 bikes riding double up on a 2 line highway at night. I was the lead bike, we could see 2 tiny tailights of a large truck pull out from a road about 1mile ahead. We slowed down a little at first and then started to speed up in preperation to pass the truck as it was going around 45 mph and we were cruising at 60 mph. I had just juiced the throttle up to full for passing. Just as we came up on the truck a large steel plate (dump truck tailgate) 4 foot by 8 foot came off the back of the truck onto the road sliding out of control. We took evasive manouver as far over in the left (passing) lane giving it all we had as the plate slid right by us. The passengers were freaked out the riders just glad the plate hit flat and slid instead of catching a corner and flying end over end out of control.

  • I just bought a classic 1985 Virago 700 after not riding for about 5 yrs. I really missed it and have been enjoying the spring riding weather the last week. Today I was coming home from visiting a friend and was in the slow lane on a local two lane highway. I noticed a truck in front of me with an open bed. Hate those open beds. I moved into the fast lane to pass it and just as I was coming up to pass it, a huge sheet of plywood caught the wind and shot two tires out the back along with the plywood. It all happened so fast I did not have time to think. I sped up as fast as my adequate but far from fast engine would allow and managed to avoid the flying tire. I was on the shoulder, but luckily there was nothing there to trip me up and I passed him all the while honking my tiny horn (horns on bikes should be LOUDER!!). He pulled over and I continued on my way feeling I had just avoided something tragic. I keep imagining what it would have been like to get hit by that tire. Not good I’m sure. All the way home I felt a renewed gratitude for the simple things and at how quickly life can change, end…or simply go on. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Should I sell the bike I’ve only had for 3 weeks and count my blessings? Or should I keep riding and take another refresher course and buy some better gear? I guess time will tell. For now I am just grateful to be here.

  • Two quickies.

    The first road trip I took on my ’72 Honda 350 was up to the Red River in OK. The ride up was a blast. Made a friend of a total stranger who ended up putting me and a friend up for the night. The next day on the way home while we were cruising down the interstate I felt the sleeping bag I had strapped to the cafe tail on my back shift a little as I was approaching an overpass. In the next moment two things happened. I thought to myself, ” I should pull over and adjust that thing.” Second the sleeping bag slipped down onto the rear wheel and at about 75 mph crammed itself between the fender and tire. My back wheel locked up while I was riding in the center lane. I owe the lessons I learned while skidding around the back yard for fun and God or fate or whatever you want to label it my life today. In a feat that I never hope to repeat I grabbed some front break and feathered it in and did my best to keep her up right. In full skid I piloted the bike across the slow lane and onto the shoulder. I thanked my stars nothing happened. The guy that I was riding with couldn’t shut his bike down for another mile. I was so shaken it took me awhile to realize I don’t need to get the bag out right away, but to just calm down. I had a since of gratitude after that that has not left me still. I hugged my buddy told him he was a very good friend, and told my mom I love her when I got home.

    Second story prob a year and a half later, I was riding the same bike to Austin, and it still had the same big ol’ flat spot on the tire ( I never felt bad for doing a burnout on the tire after the lock up, I just figured it would make it more round). Two of my friends and I decided to blast down South and party in Austin.One of them mentioned in the previous story has an 883 Sporty, but the other, like me, has a ’72 350cc. After hours and hours of stop start riding trying to trouble shoot little probs with the old bikes, we were blasting through the darkness on a 4 lane road in the middle of no where. My buddies were riding in the left and my little bike was buzzing along just dandy so I decided to have a little fun and pull along side for the pass. My friends saw me pop into the right lane and heard me rack up the pipes to pass. The bottom of their stomachs dropped out as a dead deer suddenly appeared in the lane next to them. I did not see it until I was right on top. I guess I was overrunning my headlight. I can take no credit for saving myself here. If I had chosen to ride in the middle of the lane instead of the left most portion I would have hit that big fat dead doe right in the belly! I thanked God I didn’t and sheepishly popped over into the left lane behind my buds. To this day I can still see it hooves reaching out to me as I blasted by it. Scary stuff.

    Both of these incidents happened at a time when I was getting too comfortable in the saddle. Riding a motorcycle is risk enough, when you start adding risk to risk you begin asking for more trouble. I feel I’ve gotten really fortunate twice. I have dumped a couple times. I just sold my 350 and I’m looking at bigger bikes, but honestly I don’t know right now if it is worth rolling the dice.

  • Lost my GS850G to a guy coasting through a stop sign while I was turning left in front of him. I was looking right at him, and should have realized he was looking at the van behind me, thinking he could coast through and continue on.
    Without a helmet and safety gear, I would be a vegetable today, having hit my head on the pavement. Helmets save lives, especially at slow speeds, but I support anyone’s right to donate organs to others, just sign the card before you ride!

  • One fine October morning I saddled up for the 45 minute ride to work. I was less than 5 minutes into the ride when a glorious 8-point whitetail buck jumped into my path. As I was going, um… 55 m.p.h. (that’s what the speed limit is, so that’s how fast I was going – just ask me, I’ll tell you!), and it landed only about 15 yards in front of me, I only had time to think Oh, shit, this is gonna hurt! and grab a fistful of brake. Next thing I knew, it was 45 minutes later, and I was pretty groggy. At first, I thought it had been a bad dream. I tried to roll out of bed, and realized I was pretty sore, then realized that I was lying on a dirt road, in all my gear. Once I realized that, I was able to move correctly to get up. After fumbling unsuccessfully for my cell phone for a couple of minutes, I walked to the nearest house, which happened to belong to my aunt- and uncle-in-law. I banged on the door, and they called the police to report an intruder. Then they recognized me through my bucket (which I didn’t remove so that I wouldn’t cause any new injury), and let me in. I called my wife, and went back to the scooter…

    It turned out later that I hit the deer’s hip, and did a flying W for 40 yards or so, still holding onto the scooter, landed on my head and left shoulder, still holding the sled, and slid for another 50′ or so. I blacked all this out, and don’t remember anything between grabbing the brakes and waking up. All this on a gravel road. Note that even though I was knocked out, once I came to, I was able to get up and walk away (I was sore and bruised, but no actual injuries). I credit this to the quality of protective equipment I was wearing. HJC full-face bucket, and Fox Creek leathers. This protective gear absolutely saved my life, and I came out of the incident with only minor damage, mostly cosmetic.

  • I live on Long Island,NY.As soon as I leave my driveway my life is on the line.A day does not go by that someone doesn’t try to kill me,intentional or not.The last one I did not escape.As I pulled along side of a cager in a large SUV I thought”who is this a– hole?”Never got the chance to look at him in the drivers side window.He hit me in the foot controls and exaust.I don’t even remember him coming over into my lane to hit me or the bike going down.Next thing I know is I’m rolling down the road like a log.I could see cars next to me as I rolled.Of course I was in my safety black outfit so all they saw was sparks from my SuperGlide Sport as it slid down the road in front of me.I did not get squashed and the SUV just went on down the road.Remember to check your insurance policy.The driver is not covered all the time.My bad,I knew this guy was hinky,I should have stayed as far away as possible,but who would think someone would swerve into you with the intention of killing you.RIDE LIKE YOUR ARE INVISIBLE AND EVERYONE IS TRYING TO KILL YOU!

  • Bikerkash said it all with a lot less words. Follow his advice and ride safe. Position yourself so that you are seen if possible.

  • With less than one year of experience as a new rider on my 2005 Honda 750 Aero Shadow, I was traveling a narrow 2 lane country road with my husband on his Gold Wing behind me, when the pickup traveling in front of me lost 2 sheets of drywall from the bed of the truck. As the wind caught them, I knew that they were going to come flying down the road directly in front of me. With deep ditches on either side of the road, no berm and traffic coming toward me, I had no other option but to lay on the brakes and hope I kept control of the bike. The first sheet hit the road and disentegrated into thousands of pieces. When I saw this, I thought all would be golden, as I held the bike in a straight line, but shimmied a bit with the brakes full on. Then the second sheet hit directly in front of me with the end closest to me bouncing back up toward my fender in a complete piece. I pictured in my mind the sheet catching the edge of my fender and throwing me and the bike into the air. At the point of impact, I was still moving fairly fast as the sheet dropped back down and I drove over it and finally brought the bike to a stop, with my husband right on my tail. To this day, I’m still not sure how I was able to stop the bike with such a hard break, being fairly inexperienced, but it worked at the time. I was so upset and pissed off that when the dude driving the truck turned around and came back to apologize..brownie points to him for at least being man enough to do that…that I flat out road off and left my husband to explain to him what an #@#$#hole he had been not to secure his load. I do have to say that I did take a MSF Motorcycle Ohio Beginners Rider Course when I first got my bike and did practice hard breaking during the course. Since then I have taken 2 addition ERC classes, Experienced Riders Courses and have had to hard break a couple times since then. Can’t say enough good for these classes and recommend them to everyone who rides.

  • In 1994 I was a 6 month newbie on my Honda Shadow 700. I was riding for experience and for enjoyment. I was going 40 mph up the street. The left elbow curve ahead (which I had driven on almost everyday in my car) had a sign reading 30 mph. I went around the curve, said, ” oh s___” knowing I was going too fast. I thought, “what do I do now?” I turned my head more to the left. The next thing I knew my bike and I were on the ground. I was lucky: I landed on grass. The right front brake handle was broken, the handle bars were off center. I had on full leathers, a full face helmet. A few days later I noticed bruises on my right side. I was lucky to get off so lightly. I was not paying attention and daydreaming. If I had more experience, I could have slowed down instead of falling down. I fixed the brake handle, took the bike in to get the handle bars straightened. This one experience left an indelible mark on me: fear. I rode with trepidation after that fall. In 1995 my Honda melted in our house fire and thus put a stop to my riding. 2011 is the year for me to start riding again. Thank you, all, for writing of your close calls. The stories have helped put my close call in perspective: practice, be alert, think ahead and expect the unexpected..

  • If your having a number of close calls the best thing you can do to prevent this is look in the mirror in the morning that is where the fault generally lies. If you are going to ride you must first know what you are doing and have your head in the game at all times. I have rode many miles for many years and do not believe drivers pull in front of bikes intentionally. If they do not see you it just may because you did not position yourself to be seen in traffic. It is up to the motorcyclist to position his or herself to be seen. Riding below the speed limit and slower than the flow of traffic is another cause of problems. When you enter an area where traffic is heavy learn to always cover your front brake, this is a good idea at all times but especially when there is traffic around you. Plan your routes where there is generally less traffic and avoid areas where there are only two way stop signs four way stops and traffic lights are much safer. Avoid night riding, if possible you are much harder to see in traffic at night and night time is when many animals start to roam and you will never see them coming. And as everyone knows drinking and riding do not mix well. I got away with it for too many years but it really is a very bad idea.There are many more things on this subject but number one for me is to ALWAYS have you head in the game it’s like match point in tennis except a much worst outcome if things go wrong.

  • I had just left my house for work one morning at about 6AM. I’d had my license for around six months, but had only really been riding for 3 since it was still late Spring.

    Just after coming out of fourth gear on my little EX500, a deer jumped up from the river bank, loped across the road, and ran into me broadside, its chest hitting my clutch hand. I had just started to brake for it, but it did me no good. I hit the road going about 50, and the bike did somersaults in front of me for several dozen feet.

    I ended up in the ditch with ruined gear (ATGATT), the bike didn’t have a piece on it anywhere that wasn’t ground down or flat broken. The deer ran away unhurt. I continue to ride with a greater appreciation for how quickly things can go South.

  • I had just entered the HOV lane in heavy morning traffic on a cool October Boston day, heading south on I-93. I was going 50 MPH. The cars behind me were going that fast. The cars to my right were like they were parked. The counter balancer chain tensioner (the doohickey) broke in the engine of my 2002 Kawa KLR 650. The chain wrapped around the drive shaft locking up the rear wheel. Now the back tire was not moving for anything and up front, the bike is bucking and ripping left and right as if it was trying to throw me. I wrestled the monster bike (it’s a very tall bike and I am not a tall guy) to a stop on the painted lines between the two lanes, a space about 2 feet wide just shy of a concrete barrier.

    My heart was pounding and I was feeling extremely lucky. The engine was a total loss, therefore so was the bike. The engine block actually cracked down the middle.

  • Around 30 year ago as a young, but not totally inexperienced rider, I and my Yamaha 650 entered a decreasing radius North Carolina off-ramp at too high a rate of speed. Though a competent rider skill-wise, I was much too spacey in those days and was probably day dreaming about something. Suddenly awakened by the fast approaching guard rail,
    I instinctively leaned the bike over to the max. But that’s not what saved my ass from flipping over the top side into the trees and beyond. Rather, by the grace of God there happened to be a concrete curb running around the outside of the pavement, and when the tires hit its vertical face at the apex of the turn, the bike was launched back onto the pavement in an upright position that allowed me to continue on my merry (also dazed, shaken and infinitely wiser) way.
    Lesson learned: As dangerous as all the inattentive cagers are, I am my own worst enemy sometimes–usually when I’m too tired or preoccupied. I try (at least) to remind myself of this as part of my pre-ride inventory.

  • Im a beginner rider, been riding for about four or five months, and most of the times i dumped my bike i rode over stuff thats not meant for cruiser tires and more for dirt bikes,i find that u never stop learning new techniques as u ride,one thing i make sure about is (profiling the vehicles),is it an eldery person?,a teenager who wants too try to race me,,a bigger vehicle that has a really big blind spot? a truck pulling a trailer behind it, i always assume that somethings gonna happen before it happens so i can think about the exact procedures of what i need too do to avoid getting hit,slow down, speed up, swerve,and the most important thing is to let vehicles know that u are there so they don’t try too change lanes while your in the lane beside them…

  • Well, BigSteve, the helmet wan’t your problem, although you obviously think it was. And you obviously hate wearing a helmet. More sympathetic I cannot be, to quote Elaine Benes. However, you could have been “another statistic” due to your ridiculous action of trying to avoid a freakin’ butterfly. Ride safely, and watch out for bugs.

  • Just returned last night from an around Lake Michigan camping trip with my buddy from Denver. We’re both experienced riders but after what happened on a lightly traveled H.W. in the UP (Michigan Upper Peninsula) I believe he needs some lessons in packing. I’m running about 70 mph and he passed me on the right. When he was about 15 ft in front of me I saw an object fall from his baggage area and by the time it hit the ground I realized it was our camping hatchet. In that instant I also saw it take a bounce directly in front of me. I instinctively dove behind my windshield (Honda ST1100) and pulled my right arm in too accidentally hitting the kill switch. In the one or two seconds I had to react the hatchet (sheathed) struck the windshield at the center and slightly to the right deflecting past me.
    I don’t even want to imaging what would have happened had I not had a windshield…

    That’s just the most recent, there have been plenty of others which is why I try to remember that everyone else out there is trying to kill me!

  • In May of 2005, me and my buddies went to Laconia, New Hampshire for the big show. The next day we rode the Kankamangas trail through the Green mountains. As we were coming down the other side, there was a sign saying “sharp curve-slow down”. I did this, but not enough. As I entered into this hairpin, decreasing radius turn, I came to that sudden realization, that I was going too fast. Midway through the turn, I knew that I had to shut it down. I got the bike up straight and used both brakes, without locking the wheels. As I ran out of pavement, the bike started to wobble. The shoulder provided just enough space for me to come to a stop. The drop off on the other side was substantial to say the least.

    The lesson to be learned here: Take the MSF basic and advanced rider training courses and pay attention to the road signs.

  • When I was 20 I worked at a summer youth camp in the high Sierra’s above Fresno, CA. My bike at the time was a Yamaha 250 twin two stroker. I was returning to camp from having the weekend off and was heading up the mountain highway on CA 180. As I approached a left hand sweeper blind turn on the outside of the lane I was confronted by a logging truck decending the hill. The truck had driven half way in to my lane taking up 3/4 of the highway.. The truck driver had taken the curve too wide due to his excessive speed. We missed each other by a foot or two. If I had been closer to the center line going into that curve as I normally do, I would have been a mere bug splat in the middle of his front bumper. I just remember pulling off at the next turn out and stepping off my bike shaking. I learned that riders and drivers need to be aware of each other in mountain road situations and watch out for logging trucks!

  • I was rounding a corner on the East River Drive in Philadelphia with my pal Diane on the back. The arc of the turn widened out until I was almost facing the opposing traffic. I remember seeing the front bumper of a VW beetle in front of me;. I did something which put us back into our lane, but I don’t remember what. I didn’t know about pushing on handlebars back then, but I suspect that’s what I must have done.

  • I commute in LA traffic as well.

    My defensive riding position is 1) covering both brakes on the right, and 2) covering the horn on the left. At least a few times I’ve had a car start start moving into my lane, but a quick beep got their attention and eliminated the risk. Granted, there will be plenty of situations that will happen too fast for anything but hard braking/swerving/whatever works. But, if you keep attentive of the heads of the drivers just in front of you or just the motion of the vehicles, often you can avoid a close call by noticing that they’re looking for a space in your lane and making sure with a little beep that they know you’re there.

    No one else mentioned the power of the horn. Keeping the horn covered has avoided close calls for me, and it’s a consistent part of my strategy.

  • Weaving through a gaggle of Guided Missile Forest Rats (also know as “Dodge the Deer) at 0-dark:30 on HWY 7 at the North end of Alder Lake near Mount Rainier.

    It had been a fantastic day of riding and I had just left the Side Track Café’ in Elbe. The Owner of that fine establishment (being a rider himself) had warned me to be on the look-out for the misplaced freezer destined fur clad grown Bambi’s.

    It was easily a 8.9 on the sphincter pucker scale of riding.

    Sadly (for others) my timely weaving, braking, and throttle pinning safely carried me through the beasts and I left them all unharmed to take out some other unsuspecting homo sapien motorway user.

    Ride Well, Ride Often

  • I’ve had a few spills in my lifetime, none required more of me than picking myself (and my bike) up and riding off. But I do have a close call that I will remember for the rest of my life.
    1981 and I was riding my Yahama 650 Special on a quiet night through the city. Traffic was almost non-existent. I was doing about 50mph and coming up to a crest of the hill. Suddenly, just yards away, a station wagon pulled out from the cross street to my right. I remember our eyes locking momentarily and the utter fright in his eyes reflected my own fright. It seemed we were both paralyzed as he stopped right in my path and I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes I was on the other side of his vehicle. I glanced back in disbelief and saw him still at a standstill. I will never be able to explain how I wound up on the other side, some say my swerve skills just kicked in and but I don’t recall anything but closing my eyes as a collision was inevitable. That was almost 30 years ago and I had given up riding shortly after (due to other factors having nothing do with this incident). I am riding again and hope if this ever happens again I will be more cognizant of what’s going on. But more importantly I’ll continuing being thankful that I’m being watched over. There is no other explanation that will ever suffice.

  • I live in West Virginia, out in the country. Only had my Boulevard S83 for about a week. I was traveling through a local small town and caught up to a vehicle barely doing the speed limit. We got out of the town and the speed limit is 55 mph. The car in front of me was still barely doing the speed limit. It was a couple of miles to a place where there was enough sight to actually pass safely so I readied myself for that stretch of road. As I was coming out of the turn onto that safe zone I saw the road was clear and goosed the throttle as I started across the center line. Just as I swerved, I saw a piece of tree bark, from a log truck lying in my path. Nothing I could do to avoid it! When the back tire hit it, the bike tried to slide out from under me. I stomped the road with my left foot and started to go the other way. I stomped the road with my right foot and started to wobble. The whole time it looked like the car I had started to pass was within millimeters of me. All of a sudden the bike just smoothed out and was under complete control. I throttled up again and took off. I didn’t get scared about the whole incident until I was in bed that night thinking about it, and then it terrified me. There’s no way an accident could have been avoided there, without devine intervention. 🙂

  • July 12 2005
    My July 4th weekend.
    My fourth of July weekend went like this.
    I planned to go to Algona Iowa for the 22nd freedom Rally put on by the A.B.A.T.E of Iowa organization
    This year I was going to bring Andrew along because he has asked me a couple of times if he could go after he turned eighteen.
    Roxanne and I talked about it for awhile and decided that it would be ok if he went with me ,and if he became bored we would find something else to do to pass the time.
    I had to work on Friday the 1st of July, because I was unable to get a vacation day .
    I told Andrew that we would leave, and go to Iowa after I came home from work that night.
    I finished working that Friday night, because I work the night shift, came home and seen Andrew with his mom in my room watching television .
    I had been up most of the day and was tired, so I told Andrew that I wanted to get some sleep and would set the alarm clock for 3:30 am and then go then, also it would be safer if we where to go in the morning.
    Andrew agreed and went to bed, I set the alarm clock for the time I was to get up and went to sleep.
    Saturday morning July 2nd came and we loaded up the trailer to the bike and off we went.
    Saturday morning was a little chilly but as the sun came up the day warmed up also.
    Pulling the trailer I can only get around 90 miles to the tank on my bike, so I watch the mileage as we traveled.
    The route we took was to leave Albertville then go to Buffalo and get on county road 25 following it south to Glencoe, MN.
    We left at or around 3:45 am and didn’t stop until we where at Glencoe, where Andrew told me that his legs where getting cramped.
    I didn’t need to fill up with gas yet so after awhile we continued on our way.
    The first time I had to stop for gas was in New Albany, MN.
    There was a Casey’s convenient store there which had not opened up yet ,so we waited until it was open and filled the tank on the bike.
    Went inside and bought a can of pop and a candy bar to eat before we left on our trip.
    Heading south on county road 22 through Gaylord and on over to Norseland, MN.
    Then to county road 169 south through St. Peter and around Mankato, MN.
    Following 169 south we stopped at garden city for more gas and then at Vernon Center so Andrew could rest his legs once again and call his mom.
    Some guy in a pick up that works as a security guard stop as we where resting and asked us if we needed help.
    I told him that we where just resting and where heading to Iowa.
    After we rested for awhile we headed down the road.
    Stopping for gas in Winnebago, MN. Before going into Iowa, because there gas stations are not that close together and I’ve ran out of gas last year.
    Still on county road 169 we crossed the boarder of Minnesota and Iowa.
    Algona was just down the road and then to the freedom park and the rally.
    Coming into town we could see all of the bikers that arrived there the day before.
    A couple of miles out of town there was a dirt road that lead to freedom park.
    Riding down the road and to the front gate we pulled in to register for the weekend.
    After filling out the forms, I started the bike up and went to the camp site that I was at last year.
    Riding through the park I could see all of the improvements that where made after last years rally.
    Crossing the steel bridge I told Andrew that this is where the ladies go to cool off and if you are lucky they will be naked.
    The alley is the name of the area that I stay at when I’m down here, it’s alright if it doesn’t rain a lot other words it can be muddy.
    The spot that I’ve stayed at had someone else in but the spot next to it was open so that’s where we put up our tents.
    It was around 9:30am Saturday when we finally got there and started to setup camp.
    The tents went up fairly easy and the canopy went up next, then unloading the trailer and putting our stuff in the tents, a couple of girls came by and lifted there shirts for Andrew.
    I unhooked the trailer from the bike and told Andrew that we where going to go in to town to get something to eat.
    This was around 11:00 am and it was also the time we called Roxanne and had to leave a message.
    Rode into town I headed to subway and found that the owner had died and that it was closed until 3:30pm, so we went to McDonald’s across the street, then to k-mart after that to buy the things that we didn’t have room for in the trailer.
    Returning back to the camp site, I asked Andrew if he would like to walk around and check things out?
    We walked up to the top of the hill where all the food & clothing venders are.
    The time was 4:00 pm or so and I said to Andrew that the wet t-shirt contest was going to start and would he want to go?
    The crowd was beginning to get large, but we manage to get fairly close to the front of the pack so we could see the girls on stage and maybe get some good pictures to bring home with us.
    Andrew smiled a lot but told me he would like to go into town and look around for awhile.
    Back at camp and off we went to town.
    Cruising around awhile we passed the fair grounds and out of town, a cop had followed us and I don’t know why so I pulled in to the fair grounds to watch the race that was going on.
    It was the last race of the night on the dirt track and I looked in my program to see where and when they race again.
    They raced three time a week, Friday it was in Fairmont ,MN, Saturday night it was in Algona and Sunday night it was at Mason City, at the fair grounds.
    I asked the girl of the couple in front of us where Mason City was from here and how would we get there, I told her as she told me how to go that we where staying in Algona and that I knew where county road 18 was because we had to drive on it to get to where we where staying, she said that we where to follow county road 18 East to Mason City and that it was about forty five to sixty minutes from here.
    The race was over at 9:30pm and then Andrew and I went back to freedom park.
    Pulled in to our camp site around ten or so and I asked Andrew if he wanted to go to the races Sunday in Mason City.
    Andrew told me that he would like to do that but when would we leave to go?
    Well the race starts at 5:30pm and if it takes 45 to 60 minutes to get there we can leave at 2:00pm and then we can look around town, because I’ve never been to Mason City.
    I woke up at ten o’clock Sunday morning and Andrew and I went to the showers.
    Andrew wanted to get some souvenirs and so we rode around to find him a vest that I bought and then some patches that he liked.
    Andrew had the patches that he bought sewed on to the vest and I found a patch to have sew on also.
    Looking at my watch I noticed that it was two o’clock and that we should be leaving for Mason City.
    Heading East on county road 18 the day was gray and we didn’t know if we would have to ride in the rain, but I continued to ride towards Mason City.
    There wasn’t much traffic on the road that day and everything went smooth, we hit a little rain around the City of Britt but it wasn’t anything to stop and get our rain suits on.
    Passed a couple of riders when the clouds looked dark and as if they wanted to open up.
    Still traveling East we went by some more towns and there people waving to us as we road along.
    The sky was still gray nasty.
    Out in the distance to my right I saw a field of wind mills, the kind they us for power.
    As far as the eye could see and I pointed it out to Andrew , that was outside of Ventura City, Iowa.
    Arriving in Clear Lake City, we saw I-35W and the sign to Mason City.
    It was round ten miles.
    The traffic in Mason City was congested and so we drove through to the other side of town past the race track and to the other side of town.
    Passing the race track, Andrew asked me if we where going to be late for the races and where are we going?
    I told Andrew that we are going to find the Mason City Harley-Davidson Dealership so we could get a t-shirt.
    We passed a lot of different stores that we don’t have in and around home.
    Coming to the end of town I noticed the street that the dealership was on so stopping at the light I turned right and rode to it.
    Arriving there we found that it was closed on Sunday’s and that it was open on Saturday, but we where not here then, so we where out of luck.
    Stopped a while, Andrew asked me again if we where going to be late for the race.
    Started up the bike I headed back to where we came from and back into the main part of the city.
    I asked Andrew if he was hungry and would he like to stop and eat before we went to the race?
    Andrew told me that he would eat at the race and said he would like to go to the Harley dealership in Elk River when we got home to buy some chaps.
    I told Andrew that he could get some chaps at Mills-Fleet Farm here in Mason City cheaper than if we stop at a Harley dealership.
    We stopped at Fleet Farm and turned off the bike and locked up the saddle bags just to be safe.
    We found the chaps and Andrew tried some on to figure out what size he needed.
    One of the sales ladies asked us if we needed help finding what we needed.
    No I said we think that we found what we where looking for and if we needed any help I would come and ask her, she thanked us and went to help some other couple.
    Andrew is a hard person to find clothes for because he tall but small in body weight.
    Looking around we think that we found the pair that fit him, but I went find that sales lady to see if she can give us some tips.
    She was busy at the time but told me that when she was done with these people sea would be right over to us.
    We where still trying on chaps when she walked over to us, she helped us with getting the right size and helped us figure out the length that they should be.
    I then asked her if we could get them cut to the right length?
    She brought us over to where they sold scissors and told us with the help of another lady what scissors would cut leather and that if we cut them we would not be able to return them.
    I told her that we where staying in Algona and that we saw some wind mills for power, passing by the city of Ventura and would she tell me a little about them ?
    We talked for a while and then I thanked her for the help.
    Didn’t needed anything else we went to pay for them.
    Told the cashier that we didn’t need a bag and that we are going to be cutting them out side so the receipt wasn’t going to do us any good once we got out side.
    The sky was partly cloudy and the sun was trying to shine through .
    Andrew and I walked over to the bike and talked to a couple that where looking at the bike, talked for awhile with them and then they said bye.
    Opened the scissors and laid out the chaps to cut them at the right length.
    After cutting the chaps we put them into the saddle bags and locked them.
    Andrew asked if we could go to Best Buy and look around?
    Went to best buy to kill some time and then over to Wal-Mart.
    It was getting close to race time so I drove to the fair grounds where the race was going to be run.
    Parked the bike and walked over to the gate to pay the admission price of $9.00’s each.
    Found a good spot to sit and watch the races and the weather north of Mason City as the announcer also told us of the weather that southern Minnesota is having.
    We watch the preliminary races to see who would go on to the finals.
    I have never been to a dirt track race so for me this was a neat thing to watch.
    The race lasted until 9:30pm and then you could go to the pits and meet the drivers.
    We decided not to go and get back to Algona to our camp site.
    The traffic leaving the fair grounds was slow and we took our time.
    Turning right on to county road 18 heading west out of town and back to Algona .
    Andrew told me that he was hungry and I said that I was too.
    Riding down the road we decided to stop at Arby’s restaurant.
    Pulling into the parking lot and stopping, we went inside to eat.
    Order our food and ate it, Andrew asked me if he could keep the cup that his drink came in and bring it back to freedom park, I said why not and will you be able to hold it while on the bike?
    Andrew told me yes, so we headed back on the road and back to Freedom Park.
    The time when we left Mason City was around 10:00pm and I thought that we should get back around11:00pm ,because it took us an hour to get here.
    Leaving town with the rest of the traffic into the night.
    The sky cleared up while we where watching the race and so the night sky was clear, and I saw that the sun was setting and told Andrew that red sky at night sailors delight, he asked me what does that mean and I told him that it means that there would not be any rain tonight so we would not have to pack up in the rain tomorrow when we go home.
    We had passed through Britt and saw a sign that told me that we had only twenty miles left to Algona, but less to the park where we where staying.
    Leaving town on a two lane road (county road), I was going the speed limit still heading west towards camp, and coming upon a curve ahead of me I saw two cars coming towards me at the same rate of speed , the second car started to pass the first car and I watch all of this.
    He swerved towards the shoulder on my side and then came back at me in a angle (45 degrees ).

    I was still going towards both cars,( I ride towards the center line when I ride) and they were coming
    towards me as we approached each other I held my ground and proceed to go forward to the on coming vehicles.
    As we all came together I drove between the two cars seeing the head lights go by as I continued to ride.
    I thought that those head lights where really close and all I remember is seeing them.
    After we where through and down the road a ways I pulled over to stop not knowing what just happened.
    I came to a safe place to stop and pulled over on to the side of the road.
    Turned off the bike and then what just happened hit me and I shook and couldn’t believe what just happened.
    I stood there for awhile not knowing for how long, nobody stopped to see if we where alright.
    The car that passed on my side or the first car nobody stopped.
    The trucks that where pulling there race cars went by us and I told Andrew that he was not to tell this mom about this at all every and that it was a secret he was to keep for every!
    Andrew through his cup that he was holding in the ditch and then I said we should get back.
    Andrew asked me why that car did that, I said that I think that he was drunk or impatient .
    Andrew said that they should have stayed where they where.
    I put my leg over the bike and tried to start the bike but it would not start and I didn’t know why?
    Andrew asked me what that meant and I said what?
    He then pointed to the right turn signal and I realized that I was pushing on the turn signal thinking that it was the starter button.
    I then pushed the kill switch off and then pushed the starter button and started the bike.
    Andrew got on and I pulled out on to a empty road to head back.
    The bugs where thick as I road back.
    A car behind me passed and I followed it all most back to the road that we needed to turn on to go to the park.
    Coming to the road that the park was on I turned right and proceed down.
    I came to the gate and raised my right arm to show them that I belong there and that I had the wrist ban that they issued.
    Ending up back at the camp site and shutting off the bike I sat in the chairs that we brought from home for the weekend.
    It was around 11:30 pm and Andrew wanted to call his mom, so he did.
    He talked to her for awhile and then I talked to her, she asked me what was up but I said nothing and said we where tired and that we would call tomorrow before we leave.
    Told her that I loved her and bye.
    The bands are louder on the last night then any other night so I went into my tent and just laid there listening to them until they where done.
    The bands where done at around 2:00am and the night was quite, so I thought that I could get some sleep
    I laid there with my eyes closed trying to get some sleep.
    As I laid there I started to cry thinking about what just happened and started to shake as I laid there I cried harder and harder.
    Andrew came over to my tent and asked me if I was all right and I told Andrew to come in my tent and told him hysterically that I wanted to go home and that I needed to go, he answered me by saying then we will go home lets pack up and go.

    Andrew was strong for me and took control when I was not able to.
    Andrew hugged me to try to calm me down and he stayed with me in my tent holding on to me.
    I told him how can we get home I can’t drive I wanted his mom to come and get me, at that point the asked me if he should call mom .
    I said yes, so he called her and told her that dad needed help.
    The phone was handed to me and Roxanne asked me what was wrong and I told her that I wanted her to come and get me I wanted to go home and I needed to be home.
    Roxanne asked me where are you, I replied in the alley I’m in the alley.
    Roxanne then told me she would call Weber and than call me back.
    I told her OK.
    When I got the call back it was Mark Weber my neighbor, he asked me what was wrong and I told him the same thing that I told Roxanne, he asked me where was I and I replied in the alley where we stayed that time we came here.
    Mark told me that they would be there to get me.
    The phone rang and I was then sitting in the chair but turned on the phone and didn’t know it but heard someone on the line, Roxanne said hello Dave, I answered and told her to bring the trailer because I couldn’t drive and that the straps where in the white cabinet and I already had the straps to hold the bike on the trailer.
    Roxanne hung up and then Weber called Roxanne and told her that whey where leaving.
    Mark started to unload the trailer ,but neither could find the wheel holder for the front of the bike, so mark said he would just ride it back.
    I think that Roxanne called me to tell me that they would call me on the way down?
    As soon as I knew that they where coming down I got dressed and sat in the chair, but could not sit still.
    I put on my red jacket and told Andrew that I was going to walk around.
    I then spotted one of the security guards on there four wheeler and I stopped him and told him what happened and that my wife and neighbor where coming down here to get me and would they be able to get in with my truck?
    The security guard told me that I would be day light by then and that people would like to going home so yes they would, he also told me to calm down and try to relax, and then drove away to do his job.
    I walked around this freedom park that night not able to sleep, the hole park is 140,000 acres and they have stone roads every where.
    I walked around once and then checked on Andrew and told him that I was going to walk around again.
    I still was upset but I knew that Roxanne would be here and mark Weber would help me pack up to go home.
    When I had walked around the park for the second time I got back to my camp site and Andrew was sleeping so I started to pack up and be quite so not to wake him.
    I got everything packed up and put in the trailer, except the stuff that was going in the truck for the ride home, I woke Andrew up and told him that mom and mark would be here soon so he needed to get up.
    I watched the sun come up that day and waited for my wife and friend to get there.
    As I sat there I heard a voice saying I’m here, but I could not see anybody, then I saw this women and it wasn’t Roxanne, then I saw mark.
    I asked him where was the truck so we could pack this stuff up and leave.
    Mark told me that they told him he couldn’t drive here .

    I told mark that I was told they could, just then the same person I had talked to earlier came by and we stopped him and had to explain to him what he said to me last night and that he told me they could drive
    here, but know at the front gate mark was told that he was not able to drive down to the camp site.
    He called on his radio, but it wouldn’t work so he gave mark a ride to the front to find out what was going on.
    I stood there knowing that I was going home and that they came.
    Mark drove the truck down to our camp site and Roxanne and Kristin got out help pack up and then Mark and Andrew got on the bike to ride home.
    I gave Andrew the money I had left so he would be able to pay for gas on the way home.
    Roxanne and I talked all the way home about what had happened and that she suggested that I talk to some body about this and I said how can anybody say anything to me after I had this near death experience ?
    I have told a lot of people that I know and that I think are important to me.
    My and Andrew’s life have changed and I don’t know what or where it is going to lead me
    I haven’t ridden my bike sense that day JULY 3RD 2005.
    But I will ride because that is what I like to do.
    I don’t have any nightmares but feel nerves when I’m around it.


    David W Chatelle

    Ps. I don’t know what else to say.

    I finely rode three weeks later after my wife and I gave it a good washing down. I went back to work September 6th and worked until January 26th or sometime around there, because the company I worked for terminated me shortly after the 26th. The time I was working between Sept. and Jan. I would have bough’s of emotional brake downs and had to leave. My employer is in a high demand industry and told me that I wasn’t dependable so they would have to let me go ( but not in these words ). Sense then I have started school and I’m close to finishing it and starting a new career that I know that I probably should have been in from the beginning. I missed 2006 Freedom Rally because of school and lack of funds, but I will be back there!
    I can’t say when but I will enjoy the fourth of July in Algona, Iowa as soon as I have the funds.

  • You know those “Watch for Deer” signs on the roads?
    Back in 2004 I went to Sturgis SD from Hoquiam WA (on the coast just an hour and half south of Seattle) The trip to the rally was pretty uneventful but a good time no less, stayed at the rally for about a week then headed back to Hoquiam. I was riding with friends who lived in Seattle. When we got to Ellensburg WA we parted ways, they headed straight for Seattle I headed to Yakima to ride highway 12 back to Hoquiam.

    On the way back going through White Pass just after bypassing Yakima there were all sorts of signs on the road (motorcycles use extreme caution/watch for deer/etc…) and for about 50 miles I rode around a steep mountain pass on grooved asphalt, lucky me!

    As I entered the town of Packwood it had started getting dark, and I usually NEVER ride at night because the chances of things jumping out at you and having no real reaction time to correct for mistakes are huge factors to consider.
    But I was on 100 miles away and I figured I could do that and be home by dinner.
    So I ride on and I get just past a little place (can’t call it a town because there was barely anything there, I think the little store was even shut down) the place was called Malone. As I’m passing Malone I’m behind a white Ford pickup truck as I had rode behind him for a few miles when all of the sudden the truck swerved and the only thing I could think of was “wonder if that’s a deer…”
    No sooner did I have that thought and this deer walked right into my path! Ever notice how narrow a road becomes when there is something or someone standing in it? I had seen so many of those “Watch For Deer” signs that I had not realized that it was dark and more likely than not that there would be some deer out here and there, especially on the roads, not sure why they like the roads at night but this one was right in front of me!

    My last word on Earth would have been the fecal form four letter word… yes that’s right, “SHIT!”

    I was going about 60 MPH, posted speed and when we connected, myself and the deer I didn’t even brake, I just shifted in the seat, pushed firmly on my 16″ apes hangers and made contact!
    At first the rear of the bike started to skid some but when I hit the deer it flung to my right hitting my handle bars and then hitting my right leg on the way down and at that point I had grabbed the brakes!
    I realized I had hit that deer at 60 MPH and when I stopped I wasn’t dead! *phew*
    I had stopped in the shoulder of the opposite lane and noticed that my jiffy stand wouldn’t deploy and that my speedometer and tachometer were completely bent and thrust in towards the gas tank. I recall taking inventory of myself and noticed that my right leg was soaked and thinking I might be injured like a dummy I reached down to touch my knee to make sure it was still where it belonged and in good order. Later I discovered of course that it was deer blood.

    Knowing that cage drivers don’t care about anyone but themselves I decided I’d better pull over onto the other side of the road and get out the cell phone (Yes I carry a cell phone… this ain’t the 60s) and I called 911.
    Oh and also my wife at the time worked for the 911 dispatch in the area so I had hoped to get in touch with here… lucky me, I did, she answered the call!

    I said “Honey, don’t freak out…”
    “Where are you?” she inquired.
    “I’m at Block House Road and I just hit a deer.” I said cringing as she started to dispatch the appropriate emergency vehicles and so forth.
    “Are you hurt are you bleeding?! Stay calm baby!” she begged
    I said “I’m fine, honestly, but the deer, well it ain’t. Just wanted to make sure that you all knew there was a deer in the middle of the road.”

    Phone cut out… damn cell phones.

    Anyway, I waited for a few minutes and just as I was about to just head home out of the night comes this State Trooper patrol car at my 12 o’clock and he blew right by me and didn’t even see me.
    I finally got the jiffy stand fixed and functional and I walked over to where the trooper had stopped and was looking around with a flashlight as he saw the deer but I guess was focused on finding me. Mind you it was pretty dark out that night.

    I walked up to him and said to the trooper “Hey I think I hit a little baby deer or something…” he asked if I was the rider that hit the deer and I knodded and said “That would be me yes!”
    The trooper shined his light on the deer and declared that if I didn’t go to church that I should consider it. The trooper announced to me that the animal I had hit was no baby.
    He asked if I was hurt I told him I was fine and that the damage to the bike was minimal and I didn’t want my insurance involved, god knows what I’d paying today if that would’ve hit their radar.
    We had agreed that he would follow me for a mile and after a mile I pulled over and told the officer I was fine and the bike was fine as well and I could make it home, only 20 miles and if need be I could limp it in.

    So now I know when I see those “Watch for Deer” signs I make sure that I’m not riding in the dark and I make sure that my head stays on a swivel!

  • I have been riding motorcycles since I was 16 years old on the streets. Most of my close calls to having an accident were all my fault. My lack of concentration of the other drivers and my lack of driving at a safe speed and safe distance from other vehicles were always the cause. My most danger events were while falling a sleep while driving a 1500cc “GOLD WING” across the USA while pulling a tent camper behind the motorcycle. Yes, my foolishness of continuing to drive a motorcycle while being tired and falling a sleep was certainly a very dangerous situation. To wake up while driving out WEST in Colorado in the middle of No WHERE on a highway and find myself holding the handle bars and thinking “OH MY GOD”!!! I’m driving my motorcycle at 70 miles a hour and I just woke up!!!! My heart was pounding and racing and I started screaming and slapping my face to keep myself awake! I should of just pulled over and caught a couple hours of sleep. This was in the day time….. and there were NO cars around.
    I WILL NEVER EVER RIDE my motorcycle or DRIVE A CAR when I know I am too tired to stay awake! I will pull over and sleep from now on!! I was blessed to have not had a accident or wreck.
    Years later I bought a “INDIAN CHIEF” replica and I put a huge 124cubic inch S&S engine on it and I thought I was the cat’s meow! WOW did that “Indian” FLY! I had loud fish tail pipes on on it and it screamed “I’m bad to the bone” while driving it down the road. I truly believe many motorcycle ridders including myself have had low self esteem at some point in their lives…. I missed a turn one time while riding this bike as I was driving to fast for the corner and I saw gravel in front of my on the curve…. Things began to move in SLOW MOTION as I kept the Bike straight and we both flew through the air
    (YES we were off the GROUND IN Mid-Air ) as we missed negotiating the the corner and we were in MID-AIR flying into a residential neighbors front yard!! YES, I was bless again and I landed with both wheel rolling and we continued to drive out of the grass as I left large rut’s in the yard when we landed in the grass. I must say again my fault and foolish driving to fast and arrogant for the corner. I wanted to impress people with the loud noise coming from the exhaust pipes. Gezzzzzz….. totally foolish and arrogant on my part. Only my pride and my ego were injured…. Thank God! But, I must say I have learned that my inflated EGO is my own worst enemy while riding a motorcycle or a car. I’m learned to humble myself and enjoy riding a motorcycle safely and also a car also. I guess getting older and learning what foolish things we do when we have wild hairs up our rearend. Yes, I still believe today as I watch younger and older motorcycle riders ride their bikes……… that their EGO’s are getting the better of them and they make a bad name and impression for many who do ride with respect and dignity on a motorcycle. Which leaves a bad taste in many peoples mouths of about those who ride motorcycles today! As shame, but it is the truth! THINK ABOUT IT WHEN YOU RIDE! You represent others who ride motorcycles today also! I also believe that most motorcycle rider’s are to blame in most motorcycle accidents that take place today. As we are responsible to make sure the other driver can see us and so they know we are there on the road close to them. I do believe their are plenty of respectful motorcycle rider’s on the roads today also. But, it is the few who make a bad impression for the rest of us who ride. RIDE SAFE AND RIDE RESPONSIBLY!!!

  • Yesterday was a bad day for me too.

    A “little” run up towards the mountains resulted in riding my ST1300 into a fairly deep road-shoulder ditch. I had flubbed the tight u-turn,just a day after practicing them, no less. What a bone-headed thing to do! And my penalty didn’t mean going over a painted line; I was in trouble and couldn’t get out of the ditch. It was deep and rocky, with a near-vertical side. Two broken mirrors, wounded pride, and two kind passers-by to help me lift the bike back onto the pavement were the order of the day. We all heaved the bike back onto the pavement, and I was relieved. Except for the mirrors, I and my bike were OK. Both guys who helped me — no doubt motorcyclists themselves — replied to my profuse thanks with simple comments to “pay it forward” and help out someone I come across in trouble. What good guys!

    It wasn’t over yet, though. As my mishap had happened on athe apex of a curve — my rationale being that lacking a better place to turn around, the curve would allow me to see traffic coming in both directions — as we were finishing pulling my heavy sport-tourer out of the hole, an accident between two vehicles nearly took place right before our collective eyes in the same patch of road that had bitten me. Phew! After that, we all just wanted to get away from that scene, me especially.

    After I got going again and headed for home (shattered mirrors; shattered ego; shattered day), I stopped to both wash the mud off the bike and to collect my thoughts. Although I didn’t feel rattled, I knew I was distracted by the event and wanted to put some time between it and heading back onto the freeway. After the bike was clean, I stopped at a car-parts store to get mirror-repair supplies.

    I had decided duct tape and some stick-on blind spot mirrors — big ones — would return my rear view to some semblance of normal. Inside the store, that plan changed to buying a sheet of flat mirror replacement supply. The only trouble was, my duct-tape/blind-spot mirror repair would have been done right away; the flat-sheet repair had to wait until I was home. Oh well, I could ride a few more miles safely without rear-view mirrors, couldn’t I? Apparently not….

    Traffic was moderate to heavy. The shattered mirrors were worse than just ineffective: the ‘shattered’ effect found me spending too much time looking to the rear to see something I already knew: there were cars behind me, so I stopped looking. But the mirrors, when intact, do more than just give a clear view when you look into them: they are part of one’s peripheral sensory system. You don’t really have to be looking into them all the time to be aware of other vehicles beside you, and if there are vehicles around you. I had lost that part of my vision, and didn’t *over-compensate* to make up for the loss.

    Now I believe that what we do regularly becomes a habit, so I *always* look in my mirror and then turn my head and look before I change lanes. But for whatever reason — shattered mirrors, post-mishap distraction, god-knows-what) when the encroaching car that slowly entered the freeway and pulled right in front of me and cut me off, I couldn’t believe I was going to get into a muddled situation twice in one afternoon. But there it was….

    I stayed off the brakes and gave way to the car by changing lanes to my left. The mirror was useless, so I didn’t use it. But I didn’t turn my head and look either! Even though I was in the habit, for some reason I didn’t do it — just like I failed to make the tight turn earlier in the day — and there was a huge, red pick-up truck right in my blind spot! As I moved left, the bright color of the truck flashed into my peripheral vision via my shattered mirror, and I shot back to the right and into my own lane. I was mere inches from being tossed off my bike by the truck, and there was still the marauding car to deal with. Now I really was on my brakes — hard! — to keep from riding up into the car’s rear bumper.

    Fortunately, my swerve back to the right and hard braking saved me. As the distance between all three of our vehicles grew, I settled back into a steady pace. The marauding car drove away, heedless and probably unaware of the mayhem she had just almost caused by her slow, multi-lane entry to the high-speed freeway, cutting me off in the process. The truck stayed back away from me for several moments, doubtless having seen what had caused me to intrude on their lane and probably somewhat shaken by almost having sideswiped a motorcycle at 60 mph, and finally passed me. The rest of the ride home was uneventful. Three “events” in one afternoon, all linked into a potentially-deadly chain, was more than enough for me.


  • Imagine one of the coldest years in Louisiana. My Ol Man & I were in North Louisiana. It was New Years’s Eve. We were not from there but were on our way to a large biker party. The year was 1986. So we had no cell phones. We only had a map to the site which we had recieved in the mail. Night had fallen upon us. We were lost, stopping once in awhile to take a look at the map using a flash light or the headlight. Needless to say my Ol Man was very angry and cursing. I mean by then we could not even spot directions naild to trees or post on the country roads we were on. It had even began to rain alot for a short time. The ditches were frozen over. Everything was frozen over!. By then my Ol Man was riding pretty hard. Suddenly. we see a sighn: BRIDGE MAY ICE IN COLD WEATHER, It was iced. By the time we saw the sign it was too late to slow down, much less stop. Before we knew it we were on that iced bridge. The moment we touched the ice on that bridge the harley slide to the left, then to the right, then to the left and once more to the right, suddenly and miraculasly we survived that iced bridge. We made it to the party and partied like animals. After all it was straight up midnight. And allthough we were frozen, covered with ice, sleet, and snow we had a great time and alot more New Years together. After that experience, we made sure we got to our destination before dark.

  • George England
    772 370 6630

    I put in a coment on the 15th and just singed up to recive the # 1 survial skill
    on 19th ….I read the artical and that is exactly what I was getting at by use of the [promotional ad removed by editor]


  • I decided not to dump the bike, but instead, try to ride it out and hopefully survive. I guess it worked, ’cause here I am, 4 years later, still riding. (Not the same bike unfortunately. It was a total loss due to major water intrusion. Remember the flood canal?)

  • I had borrowed my brother’s ’78 XS750 Special, as my ’78 XS650 Special was mechanically sidelined. As I approached the the bridge that overpasses the interstate I see a van coming up the exit on my right hand side. Knowing that he is either going to bear to his right and merge into traffic in my direction, or stop before crossing all lanes to come in my direction, I move to my far left lane to create space, just in case. As I approach the X point of where, if he didn’t stop we would meet, I checked my mirrors and all around me, confident the he is going to stop. When I looked again he had obviously not even paused at his stop sign and came right across the lanes in front of me. What I remember today, oddly, is a vision of a newspaper headline covering the death of a local youth in a motorcycle accident as I saw the left rear side of his van in front of me, and his wide-eyed look of surprise as I was surely going to slam into his van. My thought ( very strange how all of this takes just miliseconds) was to lay the bike down to my right and, hopefully, minimize injury by sliding under his rear bumper as he ( again, hopefully) continued his forward motion. Then, in a flash, I was out the other side and riding in the right lane.
    I was young, and inexperienced at such maneuvers on the street. Even though my intention was to lay the bike down, there wasn’t even time to think to hit the rear brake, I just threw the bike to the right with hopes of sliding under, and then there I was, riding out the other side with the six pack still nestled between my legs.
    The two things I learned from that near statistical experience are 1) never trust any driver to stop where they should, and 2) never trust any driver. Lesson three could be that I never, to this day, take my eyes off of traffic during any time I perceive to be a critical time.

  • I’m from Lincoln in England. My tales a little different from those I have read. A lot of years ago I was riding pillion with a friend who was a very able motor cyclist. We were heading home after an afternoon watchng the racing at Cadwell Park (Our local race circuit ) which a lot of you may have heard of. Coming round a bend not far from home all was going fine. On the right hand curve of the road is a bus stop which in the dry is no problem. On this day however there had been a localised shower unbeknown to us and obviously at this point all the oil and grease had lifted with the rain.. We both went down the road in amongst the bike and sliding. When we came to a halt, apart from a bit of gravel rash we were fine. I was very lucky that an approaching vehicle had the presence of mind to stop as my head was beneath his front end and I was looking up at his oil sump. I can still visualise the underneath of that car and am very particular who I will and will not ride pillion with. Never by choice. I am not quite at the stage where I take corners with both feet down, but it did turn the impetuosity of youth into a more calculating and considerate rider.

  • i had just bought a honda vtx1300t and was taking it out for a long distance run to montauk.On the way back i missed my rest stop. I had been riding a nighthawk 750 so i was a little off with the new giant. As i got up to the curve to the belt i felt the bike going right instead of left. In trying to regain control i locked the front brake which caused it to swing around and drop me.I have a memory of rolling back down the southern state quite fast with cars trying to dodge me. My bike was busy flipping itself over.When i tell people about it they say i was lucky, It took months before i realized they were right. I thought at that time it was fun.

  • My name is George-Southeast Coast of Florida. Like most motorcycle riders I too have had a couple of close calls.

    White riding in traffic approaching a traffic light a car coming up the right hand lane cut me off taking away most of my safe stopping distance. I was forced to make an aggressive (panic) stop. In doing so the back tire locked up and the bike turned sideways. Nearly losing control I managed to bring it back upright and the stopping distance was at that point so short that I was forced to apply the brakes even harder.

    The second time the rear tire locked, the bike slid sideways some of which really worked to my advantage, and allowed me to go to the left hand side of the car that cut me off.

    After two close calls similar to the above I installed the traction control braking system [promotional ad removed by editor]

    Since that time I have found my stopping distance to be shorter than before and have not experienced any tire lock up even while trying to simulate a panic stop. This system is really great – it has helped me to prevent having an accident since that time. [ad removed by editor]

  • i have been riding over 30 years so I’ve had several close call but the most interesting happened last year on a “four corners” 13300 mile tour. I was in south Texas and have never seen so many buzzards in my life. Isaw something on the left side of the road, as I got closer I saw there were 3 buzzards feeding on road kill, 2 took off to the left away from me the other headed straight down the road in the othe lane. I thought I can actually touch his wing going by but he veered off off I thought that was kind of cool. A few hour later the same thing, but this time they were 2 bald eagles! I was staring in amazement closing in on them fast. Same as before one veered left away and 1 straight down the opposite lane and I thought am I going to touch a bald eagle? Man was I stoked when all of a sudden… it veered to the right right in front of me. I actually hit my face on the gas tank ducking to avoid getting knocked off the bike by a low flying BALD EAGLE. About ten minutes later at immigration check piont I exitingly tell telling the guys my story and am getting looks doubt. One of the guys says “are you sure it wasn’t a vulture? Heh I ‘m from the pacific northwest I’ve seen a thousand bald eagles White Head White Tail wing spread most of the lane kind of hard to miss (literally)

  • Hi from Brisbane Australia, I ride in peak hour traffic daily. I was riding in the middle lane of 3 lanes -I wanted to change lanes-head check and blink-all clear-no cars behind me.
    The moment I looked forward and lane changed a perdestian had stepped onto the road
    and was right in front of me. I just missed the person. So just like Robert in Texas and those deers I have to keep expecting anything to happen. Stay upright.

  • A few years ago me and my father were out riding him on the vz800 and me on my 600 bandit. As we wore traveling a twisty road by the river I just came out of a cornor and a deer popped right out in front of me. I don’t know how this worked out but as I seen it directly in front of me all I could do was brake. I applied so much braking force to both wheels that my bike lifted its rear tire off the ground. A few feet later I hit the deer its rear striking my right fork tube then it spinned in front of me and hit the left fork tube. As this happened the bike came back down and the deer flopped to the left of me. In total disbielf of what happened I started to continue forward thinking that this could not have just happened because if it did I should have hit the ground, but my father started honking to get me to pull over and told me exactly what he had seen. I still don’t quite know how I did’nt go down but I am very thankful that all that happened was me getting a lump in my throat from fear afterwards and a cracked front fender.

  • I was riding in to work on my 99 FLHTCUI on a two lane country road through a coastal North Carolina pine forest. It was a 55 mile trip one way. About 9 miles from my destination there is a sharp, flat, right hand curve. I had slowed and began setting up for the curve when something impacted my right shin just below the knee. It hurt just for a second, but that was enough to distract me.

    (Even at 35 mph., when you take your attention from the road, things can go the wrong way in a hurry.)

    The impact was hard enough that I looked down briefly to see if I was bleeding. When I looked back up I had entered the curve and had crossed to left of centerline and was rapidly approaching a patch of wet grass about 40 feet wide, followed by a 8 foot wide by 6 foot deep, steep sided, earthen flood canal which was bordered by three strands of barbed wire strung between 5 foot tall fence posts.

    In that 1/8 th of a second that it took to register that I was about to have a bad day, three things came to mind. #1, what had just happened. (I had crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and there was no oncoming vehicle to cause a sudden rapid decrease in my forward momentum. Yea me!) #2, what was happening. (I was slowing down, but not enough to safely negotiate the hazards that still existed. OOPS!) And #3, what was about to happen, (None of it was good!)

    I feel that I took the most appropriate action.

    I decided not to dump the bike, but instead, try to ride it out and hopefully survive. I guess it worked, ’cause here I am, 4 years later, still riding. (Not the same bike unfortunately. It was a total loss due to major water intrusion. Remember the flood canal?)

    I knew that if I applied too much front brake on the wet grass it would be disastrous. Instead, I applied a touch or rear brake and used a great deal of body english to coax the rear tire to the left. That changed my direction of travel to almost (but not quite) parallel with both the flood canal and the barbed wire fence.

    I applied front and rear braking as I got closer and closer to the top of the canal. Finally, the bike slid over the rim and started decending the steep bank. Upon reaching what I thought was the bottom of the canal, the bike entered about 12 inches of stagnant water sitting on top of about 12 inches of soft, dark, silt.

    Stopping was no longer a concern. The bike almost immediately came to a stand still while my 285 pounds continued it’s forward momentum over the handle bars, through the wind screen, and head first into the previously described muck. As I gacefully flew over the front tire I tucked and continued to flip so that I would land feet first. (It worked!)

    As I tumbled head over heels I remember thinking that I distinctly saw the headlights of the bike being very bright and they still seemed to be moving toward my eventual landing spot. I instinctively turned my head when I stopped moving forward. Yup, the lights were on and the bike was still moving forward.

    I did my best impression of Superman and was standing at the top of the opposite bank of the flood canal looking down on the bike. (It was sitting still. It was also still vertical, and the motor was still running, at idle speed.) My second mistake was turning off the motor and letting the muck intrude into the crankcase through the exhaust system.

    At any rate, my only injury was a fractured knuckle on my right index finger. (Probably hit the right side mirror as I was hurled over the front fairing.) Oh yeah, when I got to the top of the canal bank, I pulled a very nasty tasting water logged black pine cone out of my mouth.

    The gentleman who’s front yard I had entered during the crash was sitting on his front porch enjoying the fresh morning air and his first cup of coffee. He said he saw the whole thing and was amazed at how I managed to avoid entering the canal head first and possibly ending up in the barbed wire fence. He also told me that he had no idea that a “big ‘ol boy like me could move so fast to get up out of that ditch.”

    My MSF instructor told me there are two kinds of riders. Those that have crashed, and those that will crash. Now that I have, I’m a lot more careful and don’t let myself get distracted by little things like bees, humming birds, and such striking my legs.

    Ride safe!

  • I was on tour on Victoria Island following a fellow biker through an intersection. The on coming driver either didn’t see me or thought there was enough room to make a left in front of me. I applied the breaks was enough then swerve/turned down the same side street the car was turning down right to the side of the car that had turned in front of me. I had only been riding for 4 months, I have an FJR 1300. So for me this was a very heart stopping incident and is still what I fear most riding today…the left turn directly in your path. Linda

  • I live in one of the hightest concentration of deer in the U.S,. the Texas hill country. I have hit 2 deer and one hit me in the last year and a half. The worst one that proves my Guardian Angel was looking out for me, was coming out of Bandrea, Tx heading to San Antono to my daughtres house. I know the deer are bad at 11:00 at night , I saw some cars up ahead and sped up to get closers to them. When out of nowhrer, did not even see it coming Bambi jumps in front of me. Some how I missed it with my front tire but it hit my foot on my 1084 softtail. Almost knocks me off the bike somehow I stayed upright and got control of bike. The next 18 miles into San Antonio I was just so happy i”m not on the pavement that when I get to my first traffic light I also found out I have no gear rod it must have snaped off when the deer hit my front left peg and foot. Made it to my daughters in fith gear thanking my Guardian Angel the whole way. Friends keep asking me why I have hit so many deer. My favortite answer is you have to be riding to even worry about it. Can’t hit the deer from the garage.

  • Shortly after mandatory helmet laws were put into place in New York State, I was riding down Leurenkil Rd outside of Ellenville on my little Honda at about 45mph. The wind was whistling loudly through my Buco Hard Hat with face shield, and I was enjoying the road and the wonderful Catskils weather. A butterfly flew across the road in front of me and instinctively I ducked slightly to avoid having it splatter on my face….however, the impaired hearing which led to impaired balance resulted in my losing some control of the bike which had me swerve across three lanes and back again…so the helmet which was supposed to save my life in accidents of less than 10 mph actually caused a near accident due to impaired senses…and if there had been the normal traffic on the road I would have been another statistic parked in the front end of somebodies vehicle.

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