No announcement yet.

Down in West Virginia... my "sophomore year" crash 2004

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Down in West Virginia... my "sophomore year" crash 2004

    My "big crash" on my BMW f650CS - July 6, 2004
    This is a caution to new riders. The crash happened in my second year of riding. I'd gotten beyond the initial "still learning" caution and began to believe that I was actually "getting the hang" of riding a motorcycle. This is perhaps the most dangerous period of learning... you THINK you've got it figured out, and you can get surprised by a situation and not be able to ride through (or around) it.

    My husband and I had ridden (he on a Suzuki SV650) from Baltimore, MD to Canaan Valley, WV for the 18th annual WOW Ride In. We were staying at Blackwater Falls, near Canaan Valley, the crash happened on Tuesday, at 5pm.

    At the close of a magnificent day of riding in beautiful West Virginia, I dumped it on an unexpectedly tight right turn. The locals call the curve "Wild Maggie" and it is apparently a common place for crashes. But usually folks crash going DOWN the hill. I was leading and feeling confident. Just having too much fun.

    It was a long, straight, easy, grade, and I got focused on pushing my bike up the hill, forgetting to think beyond what I could see. I never saw the posted "20 mph" sign for the curve. I must have looked at my speedometer as I whizzed past it. Next I looked up to see one of those helpful yellow arrows pointing the way.

    I eased off the throttle a little, turned my head, and began to lean into the curve. My stomach clenched as I suddenly realized that this turn was far sharper than I'd anticipated and I was going far faster than my nerves were comfortable with. I was going to run into the other lane.

    As a relatively unseasoned rider, I began doing what I'd learned in the BRC: "Straighten and Brake." It might have worked. But, coming at me around the next curve, was an 18 wheeler. And he was over the centerline by two feet. The shiny metal grill looked as big as a garage door. (Imagine the little red pick-up is a big rig):

    My husband got to watch it all unfold.

    For an instant, I considered leaning harder, but discounted that. The consequences of failing would surely put me under the truck's wheels. I had enough room to cross in front of the truck to the opposite shoulder. But the gravel covered shoulder was well, gravel covered, and ended with a deep ditch, against the side of a steep, brush covered hillside. I chose that.

    I bailed and headed for the gravel and weeds on the outside of the turn. I was uncertain I could stop between getting across the truck's path and the side of the hill. I'm ashamed to admit in my moment of panic, I probably "laid it down" intentionally. I lowsided. The faint dark dashes across the lane are from my bike:

    [ sorry, can't get Image to link]

    I slid across the lane, up the hill. With my bike on my right leg. My husband heard the WHAM of my helmet hitting the pavement from 30 yards behind me. I remember the WHOOOSH of the truck's wheels passing me as I slid.

    After I came to a stop, I lay still a few seconds, waiting for the 'starriness' to disapate from my head whomp. It seemed that all my parts were still attached. There was pain in my right knee, but it didn't feel severe. I heard the sound of the truck braking, stopping.

    I sat up slowly and pulled off my helmet. My husband had stopped on the opposite shoulder and was already on his cell phone, once I responded that I was okay. The trucker was running toward me. He turned pale when he saw me pull off my helmet. Perhaps in relief.

    I will NEVER ever regret spending the big bucks on BMW gear. If I had been wearing jeans, or even "cheap" leather, I'm convinced that my kneecap would have been disintegrated from sliding 50 feet beneath the bike, and I'd be sticking to hospital sheets in Elkins or another trauma center now. Not sure my Joe Rocket gear would have done half as well.

    The CE armor in my BMW Airflow 2 jacket and 'zip off' Summer pants, saved my bones from serious damage. There is a hole the size of a plum in the right pant knee, and a melted stripe on the left ankle. My right jacket shoulder is scuffed with road grime and there is a tiny hole on the right elbow of the jacket - the only place I have actual 'road rash.'

    Physically, my right knee looks like an over stuffed bag of rocks right now, but there is nothing broken, and it feels like someone stomped on my right calf. The bike slid most of the distance on my leg. I have a hyperextension hairline fracture in my left wrist, and my right forearm is bruised pretty severely. My bike will be ready for the road before I am, I'm pretty sure. I'm just grateful I can walk without much trouble.

    In retrospect. What I did wrong:
    (Or, just how far up the ladder of risk DID I go before falling off?)
    1. Long day of riding = fatigue, loss of judgement
    2. Overconfidence/lack of appropriate caution
    3. Too fast for a blind curve = unable (unwilling?) to compensate. (I "quit riding the motorcycle").
    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

  • #2
    THanks for taking the time to share this, Lionlady, for all of us to be reminded and/or learn from.
    CURRENT BIKES: 2014 Suzuki Wee Strom, 2016 Honda CBR500R
    PREVIOUS BIKES: 2002 Ninja 500, 2002 Kawi ZR-7S, 2002 Kawi Concours, 2003 Yamaha XT225, 2006 Yamaha FZ6, 2005 Suzuki Wee Strom, 2004 Honda CRF250R, Yamaha TTR250
    Test riding bikes since 2004.
    If loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to RIDE that thing will do!


    • #3
      Thanks for the write-up. But it looks to me like, in the end, you made the right decision. We never hear from the folks who make the wrong one.


      • #4
        W. Virginia in the news, again?

        Glad to hear you survived, so you can ride another day.
        Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.