Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vancouver, WA, USA
Near High Speed 'Get-Off' Today; My Lessons Learned
Can't remember the last time that much adrenaline was pumped through my veins than this morning around 11:00 AM.
I was riding back from Leavenworth WA to my home in Bothell WA just across Stevens Pass. I left friends cabin in Leavenworth at about 10:30AM, the temps were about 33 degrees, but the sun was out and the warming trend had started. I had my gerbing pants and jacket liner which makes mid-30 degree driving on an LT like being in the cab of you cage. Once I started up the pass the temps warmed to about 43 degrees on my computer. Dry roads, beautiful sunshine I was warm and traffic was light. The great conditions prompted me to cruise about 75 up the pass. I-POD was churning out some of my favorites and I was warm and happy. About a mile before the pass, there is a sweeping left turn, one of the last ones before you crest the pass. My temperature gauge is still reading low 40's and I'm passing a white ford pickup (two lanes Westbound, two lanes Eastbound). As soon as I round the corner..... ICE in the left lane. The sunshine had not touched that left lane yet; the right lane was dry from the early morning traffic. As soon as I hit the ice, I could feel the big lady start to wiggle and now I had a slight right turn I had to negotiate before I went head on to 2 cars coming down the pass. Wow, I let her drift as far left before I was into the street bumps between the opposing lanes then leaned her over just enough to stay in my lane. The back end wiggled, the front end wiggled and for a brief moment I thought she was going down and I would be sliding right underneath the two oncoming cars at a combined speed of probably 130 MPH. Now, let me just add that Friday evening I mounted a brand new Avon Azaro front tire. The old tire had 10,000 miles and was down to the wear bars and feeling funky in the turns. I really think that new tire saved my life this morning. Be careful out there this time of year.
Lessons I learned this morning;
1) When winter is approaching don't ever try to eek out a few extra miles from that tire, change it like I did before the trip.
2) When dealing with mountain passes or shaded twisty roads, don't think you are OK just because the temperature is mid-40's and the sun is out.
3) Maybe the worst thing about the LT is also the best thing about the LT; It's weight. To think I was on two wheel at 70 to 75 MHR on a sheet of ice in a slight turn is a scary thought. Don't know how it would have turned out on a lighter bike.
I'm glad I didn't have to pay for those lessons with my life this morning; Make sure you don't do the same.