Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hit And Near Miss

The Bonneville wasn't a problem when I got back to my commute after a week away. I'd left the tank full because I'm compulsive, so all I had to do was turn the fuel on, pull out the choke and press the starter button and we were off to the races. Cool.

Not quite so cool on my very first ride into town for my first shift of the long week. We were bombing along at 65 and I was at the back of a line of cars passing Baby's Coffee and I wasn't the least bit stressed. Someone in a big silver van was though. 65mph in a 55 zone wasn't fast enough for the Tweedledum in the driver's seat. The next thing I know he's trying to mate his people mover with my left saddlebag. I nearly fell out of the seat when I sensed something over my shoulder and looked around directly into the eyes of the dirigible driving the van. He couldn't hear me but my gestures were unmistakable. What I said in sign language was that this was not a passing zone and I hoped he burned in Hell for eternity at some suitably immediate moment. Rather him than me. In the next passing zone I passed, at absurd speeds, the next couple of vehicles in front of me while they were still doing a respectable 65 in a 55 zone and with that effort I hoped not to see the assassin again. My evasive maneuver worked.

Wow. Welcome home. November is in my estimation still a bit early in the winter for muppet snowbirds droning up the highway mowing down all comers, but this year they seem to be coming early with a new sense of purpose: kill Conchscooter.

The next morning a stupid rainstorm while leaving work was out of place but that wasn't the worst of it. I nearly succumbed to the classic "left turn in front of oncoming motorcycle." It was a silver Dodge turning into the Mobil station on Summerland Key. My seven inch headlamp was blazing in the dawn darkness, I was at the speed limit which either saved me or put me in harms way. The zombie at the wheel turned half way into my lane before he finished his tweet and suddenly stopped. I was bracing for the inevitable flight over the hood thinking it was either $300 wasted for my new helmet or thank heavens Nolan has a sterling reputation for good brain buckets. I swerved, yelling incoherent obscenities through my face shield into his open window. I hope he shit himself because I nearly did. New riders reassure themselves high visibility clothing and extra lights will save them. Learning how to ride defensively will do more, as will the armored clothing, gloves and boots I wore. I was lucky the zombie woke up and stopped else I'd be looking at large hospital bills despite my protective gear and my wide swerve.

I may have missed it but the Key West Citizen never reported the take down photographer Rob O'Neal suffered downtown early one morning recently. Word got out as he now is facing months of recovery from the scooter wreck and apparently has medical bills to deal with. I still don't believe bake sales replace proper health insurance because getting hurt is bad enough but not having coverage or being denied coverage, business as usual by our insurance overlords, makes everything worse. I was lucky this week,twice, me with insurance, sick leave and a lawyer for a wife. Beyond all that vigilance is everything and I do love my leather gloves because I always put out my hands when I go down and I can't type with hamburger for fingers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Brady Steffl said...


Good God man, what a rough couple of days. I could imagine almost exactly what you were doing as you mimed obscenities at the bus-like death machine. Good lord. It reminds me of a couple of close calls.

Defensive driving cannot be overstated. When I first started riding, my father-in-law and I had a conversation about it, and he said, basically, that you have to watch for everyone - and I agree. That they are looking for other multi-ton hulks, and nothing more. Beyond that, don't even get me started on smartphones.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Conchscooter said...

I worry most about riders who think day glo clothing will save their ass. Its a comforting delusion.
I also tell my wife if I die while riding- oh well. Lifetime paralysis would be much more disturbing.

Brady Steffl said...


I'm sure in some way bright clothing helps. I know I see a big, yellow, Goldwing from 14 miles away, which is helpful. I don't think it's going to save my life every time, though. If someone is in a hurry, a bad driver, or not looking at the road, what does it matter what color you're wearing?

Stay safe.


Zuzu and Tootie said...

Winter residents are returning and the island chain is flush with tourists descending from the mainland in their SUVs. Winter in the Keys. I'm sure you won't miss today's front page article stating that Key West, when compared to other cities its size in the state, ranks first for bicycle fatalities and fourth for pedestrian accidents. And it also adds that KW ranks first for motorcycle deaths and injuries. As with all findings based on numbers, it should be read with some caution, but your recent encounters could suggest otherwise.
Be safe,
Chuck on Sugarloaf

David B. said...

They're gunning for the bicycles, too. I had two near misses downtown today with cars rolling through red lights like they weren't even there.

Conchscooter said...

I swear they are putting something in the water.

chuck and the Pheebs said...

re: the bike bit -

when there's more bikes sharing the road with cars here than any other town east of the Mississippi, we're going to be high on the ugly stat list.

As for M/C stuff...

As an invetertate NGAFT rider, one anticipates living amongst those who leave common sense at home. I'll take that over 8 months of frostbite (an empirical fact) over the potential of a left hand highside any day.