Tonight I kissed the rear-end of a Volvo with my bike. Luckily, it was low speed, and no injuries resulting. Here's what happened.
I was riding alone in traffic at about 30 km/h in a line of traffic. It was beautiful, bright and sunny out, I was headed to Mt. Baker for a solo cruise. The Volvo in front of me stopped suddenly. I was in the left portion of the lane, I veered to the left of the Volvo but didn't entirely make it. I don't know if I braked it just happened so damned fast.
Anyway the right side of my bike made a glancing blow against the left rear corner of the car and I ended up in the oncoming lane but luckily no one was there.
Now I have right side fairing damage, a busted front turn signal and a broken right footpeg (try riding around with your right leg suspended sometime, as I did on the way home - anyone know how much a right leg weighs?). The Volvo is now missing a tailight, has a throttle grip dent and a long scratch.
Someone was watching out for me tonight I am convinced of that:
- if I had not been in the left portion of my lane, or if I had been even 4 inches over to the right I would have centre-punched the Volvo's rear bumper and gone over the bars
- it would have been even worse if there had been a car in the oncoming lane - I wouldn't be writing this now
- I never laid the bike down, dropped it or fell off, this entire episode was a surreal up-on-two-wheels moto-cross-like affair I hope to God I never experience again (is this what you Motards do for fun, aside from the bouncing off cars?).
I am writing this because I hope that some of you can take this completely humbling experience I went through to reinforce things that you already know. What I am listing here is I hope insultingly obvious to you, but sometimes we get lazy about putting them into practice. I know I did, even if just for a split second, and that's why I screwed up tonight:
1. ALWAYS LEAVE YOUR SELF A GOOD SAFE CUSHION FOR VEHICLES IN FRONT OF YOU
- I was only going 30 km/h but I have seen some riders tailgating on the freeway at 100 km/h plus
2. IF YOU CAN, TAKE THE OUTSIDE PORTION OF YOUR LANE
- this more than anything saved me from catastrophe
3. GIVE RIDING YOUR 100% ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES
- I refuse to blame the Volvo for braking and stopping as hard as it did, this event happened because I was not prepared to react to it, it's that plain and simple
- I know because I have no explanation how this happened, all I can say is that my mind must have been elsewhere, even if just for that one split second
4. ALWAYS WEAR ALL YOUR GEAR ALL THE TIME
- I was lucky I didn't kiss asphalt, although I was in full gear
- but lucky isn't good enough, I could just as easily have spilled onto the road and if that happened I would have slid about 20 feet or more by my estimate
- I have heard too many times people saying "Oh, I don't need to wear my gear because I don't ride fast" - this was a 30 km/h near-disaster - as far as I am concerned unless your bike has a speed limiter which kicks in at 5 km/h, then just wear it every time - how about "I'm just going for a short ride", or "It's too hot out" - how much is your skin worth?
Sorry, this is deteriorating into a soapbox lecture which is not what I set out to do.
Anyway, please just keep these things in mind every time you're out there.