So, with less than 6 hours of total seat time on the bike, and almost 20 years since I’ve ridden on any dirt, I’m off to play at the Ontario BMW GS Challenge. This is a competition obstacle course held both for fun, and to qualify to ride in the International GS Challenge overseas. I’m going for the fun aspect, NOT to qualify. I’ll be happy to get myself and the bike home in one piece.
And that’s exactly Rebecca’s concern. She warns me that this is the start of my landscaping season, and that if I get hurt I could end up unable to work or earn an income for the remainder of the year. Pshaw… I reassure her that everything will be fine, and that I won’t attempt anything that looks dangerous.
So, it’s 5:00 in the morning, and I’ve got all my new (and expensive) gear on. The bike is warming up in the driveway, and I give the still sleeping Rebecca a gentle kiss goodbye as I set out for the 2 hour ride to the event.
As I head down the road that leads away from our house I have the biggest grin on my face. I’m finally doing this. I’m finally adventure riding!
Now, we live on top of the Hamilton Escarpment, by McNeilly Road. To get to the main highway involves dropping down McNeilly Hill in a series of amazing switchbacks down the ‘mountain’ (it’s not really a mountain, everyone just calls it that). As I head into the first right hand switch back I down shift, and gently apply a bit of front brake. The roads are great, but the morning is cool. Something isn’t right. I’m not slowing down like I had anticipated. There isn’t time for another downshift, so I pull more front brake. That’s when I realize two things. The front brake lever is now pinned against the handlebars, and the horizon is doing rather dramatic things around me.
For the first time in my 10 years of street riding life I’m having a motorcycle accident!
The bike washes out from under me and I slam hard into the ground. The impact peels the visor off one side of the helmet, while the SASTec armour inserts in my gear absorb the rest. When I finally come to a stop the bike had done a few pirouettes, and something didn’t feel right in my shoulder.
I remember that a van was a few hundred meters behind me prior to the incident, and I’m now laying precariously in a blind spot in the middle of the road, at the bottom of a switchback. I stand up waving my arm (the other won’t move) to alert the van that I’m where he can’t see me. Moments later he casually drives around me and my bike in the oncoming lane. To my amazement the next car a few minutes later does the same thing. Neither driver stop to help the downed motorcyclist with one arm dangling. Unbelievable!
Somehow I manage with one arm to get the bike upright. The next challenge is trying to do a hill start, with no front brake, and a right arm that although I’m able to get in onto the handlebars, isn’t doing everything I’m asking of it.
I limp the bike and myself the 2 minutes back home.
Coming in the bedroom, Rebecca wakes up asking what I’ve forgotten. I inform her that I’m going to need a hand getting my gear off. That I didn’t get hurt at the GS Challenge. It all happened long before I got there!