This time, the big guy (TBG) is off riding in BC gathering photos and material for more touring stories so I’m going to tell a few tales of travels that I, and another of his bikes, have made without him.
I’ve heard the comments for a long time. You’re familiar with them too. If only it could talk. Oh the stories I’m sure it could tell. WARNING: carnage follows.
We’ve had some great adventures, TBG and I, but there have also been a few on my own. The first time I felt other hands on me was a nice Saturday evening in late September 1981. I had been alone in the river valley for about four hours while TBG was off playing football with the Edmonton Huskies. It was memorable as I actually got to watch the game this time. Well, the game film.
The bus brought the team back to the clubhouse after the game but TBG wasn’t on it. After the rest of the team got showered and changed a group came over, picked me up, and carried me up the steps into the main meeting room. I sat there until Thursday and it was here that I saw the game film and learned what had happened.
During one play in the first quarter, TBG and an opposing player took a run at each other like a couple of Rocky Mountain Bighorns. The forces involved were obvious on the film and the guys in the room said TBG came back to the huddle with his eyes spinning and they asked if he was OK. Sure, no problems, and he played the rest of the game. The defense was on the field and TBG was standing on the sidelines at the end of the game. When the gun went off it must have been like OH! My job is done now, because he dropped like a sack of hammers. The team came back to the clubhouse but he was hauled off to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion. They sent him home but Mary had to wake him up every hour and ask him questions.
He didn’t come back to the clubhouse until Thursday when I got carried down the steps and ridden home, but he had to sit out the game that week to recover.
My next solo travel event happened in the parking lot where we lived in the summer of 1983. It wasn’t a long trip. I had a nice triangular corner spot that was just the right size. One morning I’m standing there and all of a sudden my left footpeg hurts and I find myself laying on my right side. A driver had backed into me and knocked me over. Hit me with the left rear corner of her car. All it would have taken was a glance in the driver side mirror to see me. Luckily, one of the neighbours saw this happen, wouldn’t let her leave, knew the apartment number, and gave TBG a rude awakening. “Somebody just hit your bike.”
TBG came down and the lady was all cranky and didn’t understand what the fuss was about. “The only thing damaged is that piece of plastic on the front.” Well, that piece of plastic was my little Shoei half-fairing and was worth $300. My brake lever was bent and a signal light was damaged as well plus other sundry items. The repair total came to about $800.
The 80’s weren’t very nice to me. On Friday July 31, 1987 TBG went to work as usual, parked me out front, and headed off in his work truck. It had been extremely hot for a few days and in the middle of the afternoon the wind came up. All of a sudden I find myself laying on my right side again. About an hour later a couple guys came out of the building and righted me and they were talking about a tornado. It must have been absolutely crazy windy everywhere in Edmonton as I had been standing upright, 20 km across the city from the path the tornado had taken. Anyhow, I came out of this relatively unscathed as, after the parking lot incident, TBG had been locking my steering column to the left instead of to the right so the engine guard took the brunt of the fall.
So, while the 80’s hadn’t been kind to me with the numerous incidents detailed above, the 90’s were worse. Not because I had solo travels but because I had no travels. In the spring of ’92 my cam chain tensioner broke and I sat for 12 years as TBG went back to school and changed career paths a couple times. I was so thrilled in the spring of 2004 when TBG realized I would soon be turning 25 and decided he had the time and money to fix me. After tearing me down to find the problem he got all the parts and got me back on the road again for four more seasons. Then I sat for three more years after TBG bought a 2008 Honda ST1300 as a 25th Anniversary gift for him and his wife. TBG was very comfortable and happy.
It’s funny how one develops a bit of inter-bike telepathy sitting beside another bike in the garage. We seemed to have so much in common, the ST and I. We both had liquid-cooled Honda V-configuration engines with shaft drive. Our seat heights were pretty close and his wheelbase was only an inch longer than mine. In our second year with TBG we both went on camping trips to California. And in our fourth years we also both got hit by cars.
The difference was, I survived my Auto-encounter and the ST didn’t.
That telepathy seemed to be strong as I could sense the ST sitting in the police impound lot after the incident and will relay my understanding of what happened as the ST never came home. Another nice sunny August afternoon and TBG and the ST were headed north on Gateway Boulevard when a westbound car ran a red light. The posted limit was 60 km/hr on both roads but who knows how fast the other vehicle was traveling. The impact was huge and the only thing that saved TBG’s right leg was the tip-over wing and the right cylinders of that V-Four engine. Still, it was 5 meters of instantaneous sideways travel before the bike and car separated and TBG’s leg wasn’t trapped between the two any longer. At that point the ST began its first, last, and only solo-travel experience.
According to the ambulance and police reports TBG stopped rolling 60-70 meters from the separation point. That’s basically the length of an NHL hockey rink. Luckily there weren’t any other cars nearby or hard objects to interrupt his travel.
The ST, on the other hand, only traveled about 20 meters but, if you’ve ever seen a motorcycle crash during a race you know the contortions they go through. Panniers were ripped off. The mounting plate for the top box was split in half and the top box went flying. Mirrors and fairings were shattered. And at some point, that 730 pounds of motorcycle was nose down on the pavement scraping the windscreen before coming to rest against a light post. Both vehicles were written off with the damage estimate on the six year old Toyota being $25,000!
That was 11 years ago and as I sit here in the garage approaching my 43rd birthday I’m happy that TBG is still able to ride, even though we are both a little worse for wear and showing our years. I look forward to the tales he comes back from BC with and to the next time we can travel together.
- From R. Bruce Thomas’s 1979 Honda CX500