A Motorcycle Adventure with Jory
I'll admit, it didn't rain for 40 days and 40 nights ... more like 4 or 5 hours. And I wasn't carrying any animals (unless you count myself, but I doubt that many people would be convinced that I've got an "animal" personality). Whereas Noah built the ark with his own hands, my method of transportation was constructed by some fine people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nevertheless, I feel qualified to share my thoughts on why Noah did not ride a Harley.
As my lovely wife stated in a previous post, we got a lot of rain here at our house. People around here do not seem to like the rain; they consider it a nuisance. Having grown up in a dry, dusty part of the world, where rain is a rare occurrence, I love to sit out and enjoy the abundance of rain that we get around here. The smell, the freshness … just wonderful!
My thoughts on rain may have changed slightly during my attempt to get to work on Thursday morning … but I get ahead of myself. During the magnificent thunderstorm on Wednesday night, our power flickered a time or two, but was running just fine when we went to bed around 11:00 (after the storm had passed and the danger of severe weather was over). As an interesting side note, we seem to be on a different power circuit than most of the city … a few years back, when the power was out from here all the way to the east coast, our house never lost power. So when I woke up in the morning, and our electricity was nowhere to be found, I figured that my office was probably out too. Having no desire to hurry and get to work just to sit around in the dark, I decided it was a good day to ride my motorcycle (Mistake #1).
The morning was beautiful … bright sunshine, singing birds … or were those frogs … or fish? Anyway, it was nice. After thinking briefly about my normal route through the park (which crosses a small stream that fills it’s banks during even a slightly moderate rain, and was bound to be swollen) I decided to go the long way around, just to make the most of my morning ride (Mistake #2). As I started off, I noticed many many lakes in the neighbors’ front yards, and the ditches were filled to the brim. The road was dry for the most part, with a few sticks and odd piles of debris, a stray puddle or two, but nothing bad.
Um, I take that back. Just up the road, I can see something … what is that? Holy cow!! The road is covered in running water for maybe ¼ mile or more … but a pickup is coming through it ok … so I should be able to make it, right? (Mistake #3)
So, I take off into the depths of the ocean. Now, boats like Noah’s Ark are made just for water (i.e. they float!) but motorcycles are a different animal altogether. Not only do they refuse to float well, they also require balance, typically assisted with some traction from the two tires (half that of your typical automobile, which does not fall over if it stops moving). With these thoughts in mind, the fearless motorcycle maniac concludes that fast is good – we are less likely to fall over if we are traveling at a higher rate of speed, and this will all be over sooner if we go faster (Mistake #4).
Water splashes. It splashed up and over the front of my bike, right into my face (well, it would have been my face if it hadn’t been for the helmet I was wearing) but regardless of the details, I could not see. This is bad. So, what does fearless motorcycle man do? Does he put the brakes on, risking a fall into the murky depths? Does he slow down, reducing the amount of water restricting his vision, and take a chance on the engine stalling out and possibly being stranded in the midst of a large body of water? Oh heck no! He sticks with the original plan … ‘It will be over soon!’ he says. Perhaps he even twisted the throttle a tad bit more just to coerce that thought into reality (Mistake #5).
I drove right off the road. Without my sight to guide me, all I could feel was a bump (‘Oh no! I just fell down!’) and a pressure on my leg (‘I’m sliding down the pavement!’) with the strange sensation that I was still upright (‘What the #$%^*’). I decided to try the brakes. I stopped. I was still upright. Weird. And my right leg hurt. Oh, hello there Mr. Guardrail, how are you on this fine morning? Thank you so much for catching me and my misguided motorcycle. Now what?
Well, let’s shut the bike off … at least the engine did not stall out. Get off the bike, look both ways to make sure nobody saw me (‘Darn it, here comes a car!’), and start to feel quite embarrassed. Tug at the tires to see if they will budge (they’re stuck quite nicely in the mud … and under several inches of water to boot) and notice that where I ran off the road … it’s dry pavement. I almost made it! (That only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades I’m told). Take my helmet, gloves, and jacket off (it started to get strangely hot) and figure out how to get out of this mess.
An old fellow stopped, and asked if he could call anybody for me … I didn’t know who he could call … it didn’t seem like the type of situation that my wife and kids could do much to help. He went on and I studied the bike. Looks like the foot peg got wedged underneath the guardrail … great! How am I gonna get that out? A younger fellow about my age stopped to see if he could offer assistance … we tugged and pulled … but it wouldn’t budge. I mentioned to him that I got myself into this mess, and I guess I would find a way to get myself out … and thanks anyway. I cranked the engine up again, stuck it in first gear, and managed to get the peg unstuck, and then the mud released it’s grip, and the bike was free to get back on the blacktop. Whew!
Ok, now what to do. I really felt like turning around and going home, tossing the bike back into the garage, and changing into some dry clothing (the term “soaked” is a major understatement). But, I wasn’t really feeling up to crossing the Puddle O’ Death again, and without electricity I wouldn’t be able to shower off when I got home, and maybe if the power was out when I got to the office, they’d let me take the day off or something. So I decided to carry on (Mistake # … I’ve lost count … sorry!)
The rest of my trip was relatively uneventful. There were more puddles along the way, but I took them very slowly without mishap. Oh, and when I got to work, the power was on … don’t think it even went out during the night at all … lovely. So after taking off my boots and socks (how do those things soak up so much water!) and sitting around in wet jeans for most of the morning, I decided to shuck the pants and run around in my shorts (thankfully I had on some knee-high athletic shorts instead of simple boxers). Kinda weird running around work in a polo shirt and shorts, barefoot. Almost felt like a kid when school gets out for the summer!
On the way home, I did not want to go back through that nasty puddle, so I tried hard to find an alternate route. Between closed roads and detour signs, I ended up being one street over from my earlier adventure, and the topology was about the same … there must be a low spot, like a trench, that runs the same direction for a long distance … oh boy, here we go again! This time, there was a convoy of vehicles traveling towards me in the oncoming lane (well, some of the time, they sort of drifted this way and that) so I let them through before I set out. This time, slow and easy, I made it through. I’m not really sure, but this water may have been deeper than the stuff I went through before, it was up to my ankles with my feet on the pegs … the adrenaline was pumping pretty good there for a while. I got two big “thumbs-up” when I hit dry ground on the other side (from some highway-workers putting up a “Road Closed” sign … I think they were glad they didn’t have to fish me out!) and I was feeling great. You know, that feeling like when you’ve climbed a tall mountain, or accomplished a very difficult task … that feeling of overcoming an obstacle. It was cool.
I made it home just fine. I’d put on my rainsuit this time (not like it was much good … my clothes were wet already) but I think it helped keep some of the water off, but the worst part was having to tell my wife about the whole ordeal. She was very understanding, and glad that I was not seriously hurt. My knee hurts today, but I can hobble around alright, and my foot peg is bent and will need to be replaced, but that seems to be the extent of my injuries. Could have been a lot worse. And hopefully I have learned from this experience.
Good ole’ Noah … I bet he was much happier with an ark than a Harley!
P.S. The photo is one that I “digitally enhanced” since I wasn’t carrying a camera at the time of the accident. Why is it that you never have a camera when the really cool stuff happens?