I was on my way to another rider's memorial service in Oakland yesterday, but as it turned out, I never got there. I hope it was healing for all the folks who went--his was a huge loss. Aaron was a local motorcycling fixture, member of the East Bay Rats, and one of the bright faces at Godspeed, an Oakland moto repair shop/tattoo parlor/etc.
I turned on my blinker and stopped at a light to turn left (in a downtown single-lane construction zone), giving my usual tap-tap to flash my brakelight as I stopped. I glanced in my mirror to check for approaching cars, and saw them a block or so back. I glanced again, then switched my attention to the oncoming cars as the light turned green. The oncoming cars cleared, and I was about to start my turn.
I never saw it coming.
They say that when you're shot, the bullet that catches you knocks you down before you hear it. As for me, I was thrown into the air, flipping backwards through space as my bike rocketed forward, propelled by the bumper of the car behind me. I didn't understand; what was happening? I hadn't let my clutch out...where the hell was my bike going, without me? My feet caught on the mirrors, or perhaps the grips, stopping my spin and throwing me to the asphalt. That's when I heard the impact, the crunch. And then another--the bike crashed over on its left side, snapping off the bar end and the clutch lever, bending the handlebar, crushing the engine guards, stoving in the gas tank, bending the stems of the mirrors. I realized, ah, I've been hit from behind, just as my back and my head slammed into the pavement. Gear, oh sweet gear, beloved full leathers, and a good helmet who took the impact instead of my skull, I'm glad I wore you.
Before I understood what I was doing, I leapt up, then nearly fell down again. I stood in front of the crumpled bumper of the ancient beater Mercedes that had just asspacked me, as the woman behind the wheel stared back in horror. And just then, the bikes behind her, fellow riders just leaving the memorial, pulled up. One blocked the Mercedes' possible escape path. The others guided me off the street and helped calm me, reminding me to sit down, assess myself to see if my neck was injured before taking off my helmet, get the car's license number, call the cops. They gathered up the broken parts and set them near the wounded bike. We had a good long time to shoot the breeze, since Oakland PD required 3 phone calls and an hour to show up. The bruises and throbbing aches started to set in, the headache, the bruised knee. But really, I was miraculousy unbroken, considering the impact. And the bike, being a Honda, started and was able to limp the short ways home.
To the other riders Chad and Aaron, both of whom stopped, picked my bike up and rolled it off the street, pulled in front of the cager's car to prevent her from running, and waited around for something like an hour and a half to give statements to the cops: you are gentlemen and scholars, both!
To my sweetheart, who came to the crash site with tools to get the bike in shape to take home, escorted me back to my place, fed me dinner and rocked my world despite my bruises and pains: you are the best!
Today, I'm sore to my bones, aching, and moving is an unwelcome chore. I was very bummed that I didn't get to pay my respects, but I am glad as all hell to be alive and walking.
The Givi engine bars took a serious hit and protected the cases well.
Some of the other damage: dented tank, broken blinkers, bent footpeg, busted license bracket and aftermarket helmet holder, broken clutch lever, twisted/scratched mirrors, broken-off Manic Salamander bar end and bent handlebar, dented radiator, possible bent subframe. Sigh.