Cautionary Tale - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 7:46 am Thread Starter
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Cautionary Tale

Sunday we were headed back from the New Mexico guys' Sipapu rally when one of our group went down on a slick road south of Sweetwater. It had just started to rain, the road was one big tar snake, and his rear end stepped out on a perfectly flat and straight piece of road. The rear snapped back and high-sided him onto the road at about 70 MPH.

He's "OK"...if you call four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a broken scapula, two broken fingers, and a punctured lung OK. But he survived and he's getting out of the hospital today.

If you've ever seen a crash this bad up close, you will never ride without full gear again. We literally dug a piece of his jacket out of the asphalt. I shudder to think what it would have been like if he had been wearing a tank top. His helmet was incredibly rashed, especially the chin bar. If he hadn't had on a full-face helmet, he would no longer have a face.

The only "mistake" he made gear-wise was wearing some summer gloves, which didn't give his hands much protection. In fact, they life-flighted him from the emergency room in Sweetwater to a larger hospital in Abilene because they were afraid his hand injuries were limb-threatening. But it turned out they were not.

Another takeaway...if someone in your group has an accident, do something immediately to take control of the road. Like park your bike in the road, or throw your jacket down, or something. An 18-wheeler came barreling through with his brakes locked up before we got him out of the road, and we thought we were all going to die. This was after there was already law enforcement on the scene, by the way...but they hadn't had time to react yet. And the truck driver was obviously a total idiot.

And my Spot worked...sort of. We couldn't get cell service to put in a 911 call. I hit the Spot SOS button...and shortly afterward my phone rang! It was Spot calling me to see if it was a real emergency. Presumably they would have treated it as one if I hadn't answered. But then the Spot didn't have a good GPS fix, so I had to read them the location from my Garmin. But the call dropped before I could get it to them, of course. I'm going to say that the Spot would have gotten a fix pretty quickly and sent the information, but that kind of delay under the circumstances was pretty frustrating. As we were going through that gyration a DPS car rolled up...who just happened to be driving down that road. So that was a lucky break. I wonder if the newer Spot models have a better GPS receiver that has fewer dropouts?

We wonder if the accident would have happened if his bike had had traction control. I have heard stories of guys in similar conditions who believe that traction control saved their bacon. It's hard to know, but I know that no human could react quickly enough to save it...but maybe the electronics could have.

Anyway...
1. wear your gear...good gear, and all of it
2. carry a Spot or some other GPS tracker
3. secure the roadway as your top priority after an accident
4. respect the rain, and always opt for every safety feature offered on your bike. One of the guys in our group is going to go purchase the traction control option for his RT this week.
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post #2 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 9:38 am
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Glad your friend survived ... broken ribs recovery isn't pleasant . Appreciate the post and advice.

Chris

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post #3 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 11:47 am
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Wow, Jim, glad he's going to be OK. Sometimes light rain is worse than ice because it floats the road film, like teflon coating your tires. Good reminder to us all. and great hints on securing the roadway. Thanks!

Benny C. (Central Texas)
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post #4 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:05 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

As one of the "New Mexico guys," we're sorry to hear this.

Your post is a good summary and contribution to the forum.

And, good call by the group member planning to retrofit ASC.

Kent Christensen
Albuquerque
'12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S
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post #5 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:29 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkchris
As one of the "New Mexico guys," we're sorry to hear this.

Your post is a good summary and contribution to the forum.

And, good call by the group member planning to retrofit ASC.
Thanks...I should have added that the rally was great and we had a lot of fun, and had some great riding in your beautiful state. Just sort of seems like a long time ago with all of the excitement on Sunday.
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post #6 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 1:26 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Glad your friend is on the mend and thanks for the list of priorities, but I would add, you have got to watch your speed in the rain....70 mph is a bit much for the situation you described.
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post #7 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 2:30 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralem
Glad your friend is on the mend and thanks for the list of priorities, but I would add, you have got to watch your speed in the rain....70 mph is a bit much for the situation you described.
Agreed...in fact inarguable in light of what happened. Reminds me of the line you hear when an accident is reported: "speed was a factor". Yes, speed is always a factor. If no one is moving, there would be no accident.

But that's really what I meant by "respect the rain". We tend to get a little cavalier about it unless we're in something obviously treacherous. It's the treacherous spots in an otherwise routine road that you're on before you know it that cause the problems, as in this case.

When I said he was going 70, I was speaking in very general terms. I don't really know how fast he was going. The two of us in the lead had stopped to put away electronics, and the next two guys kept going...presumably slowing down a bit to let us catch up. But I don't know if or by how much he had slowed. I have to say that if I hadn't stopped, I probably would have been doing 70 or close to it. The speed limit there is 75 and that's about how fast we were going before the rain hit.
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post #8 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2013, 3:58 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Thanks for the info. Some great tips there.

I was with a guy that went down a couple of weeks ago. I hit the SOS button on my spot device and they called me as well. Luckily the place we were had good cell phone coverage and several people had called 911. By the time spot called me there was a National park ranger who was an EMT on the scene so I just told spot that there was an ambulance on the way. It did make me wonder what would have happened if I would have been in an area with no cell service, how long would they wait to call out the ambulance??

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post #9 of 15 Old Sep 12th, 2013, 2:50 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralem
Glad your friend is on the mend and thanks for the list of priorities, but I would add, you have got to watch your speed in the rain....70 mph is a bit much for the situation you described.
Been a few years now, but last forum report I recall of guy going down riding straight up in rain was an Airhead with Dunlop 491, a tire legendary for providing high tire mileage and next to zero wet traction and now mercifully discontinued.

I want these guys to come back to our rally and consequently don't want to start a forum war, but information on state of rear tire is meaningful. Worn out? Overinflated? A "mileage special" hockey puck? "Traction control" will likely help overcome some sins, but good tires will probably still be important.

I sure wouldn't think slowing from 70 in light rain mandatory unless there were puddles or other unusual circumstances. MotoGP won't slow that much and they have way too much power.

Kent Christensen
Albuquerque
'12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S
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post #10 of 15 Old Sep 12th, 2013, 3:09 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Well put. Thanks for posting and adding some tips.

Take care,
Chris

"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" Kurt Vonnegut

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post #11 of 15 Old Sep 12th, 2013, 3:14 pm
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Re: Cautionary Tale

All great advice and a friendly reminder Thanks!!!

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post #12 of 15 Old Sep 12th, 2013, 4:16 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by dthogey
...It did make me wonder what would have happened if I would have been in an area with no cell service, how long would they wait to call out the ambulance??
I called the Spot folks yesterday and they assured me they would have treated as a real emergency had I not answered the phone call. Presumably that means immediately.

Quote:
information on state of rear tire is meaningful
Absolutely. The bike is a GS with the Tourance tires...the tires were in good shape. I do not know miles on them, or details like that. But the guy is meticulous, and has literally ridden all over the world in all conditions. So while I don't have all the details, I am extremely confident that his bike was in as good a shape as he could make it.

The bike was not totaled, BTW.
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post #13 of 15 Old Sep 13th, 2013, 9:35 am
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkchris
...I sure wouldn't think slowing from 70 in light rain mandatory unless there were puddles or other unusual circumstances. MotoGP won't slow that much and they have way too much power.
Be careful here, you're talking apples and oranges.
Road racing tracks are cleaned regularly. The only cleaning a highway gets is heavy rain. Light rain is far more dangerous than heavy rain from a traction perspective since it floats the road film (doesn't wash it off like heavy rain does). A wet surface is one thing, a wet surface with oil floating on it is quite another. Additionally, the tires used in motoGP are much stickier and wear out much faster than road tires.

Benny C. (Central Texas)
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post #14 of 15 Old Sep 13th, 2013, 9:55 am
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Re: Cautionary Tale

Thanks as well for the updated Spot info. Been considering the purchase of one, and the earlier posts raised some doubts. Good to hear the assumption confirmed that no cell response results in action on their part.

Chris

Ain't nothin like a friend who can tell you you're just pissin in the wind - Neil Young
2015 BMW R1200RT
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post #15 of 15 Old Sep 16th, 2013, 9:41 am Thread Starter
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accident site

I pulled my logs from my Zumo and found the exact spot of the accident:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=32.17...04128&t=h&z=20

Somewhere in that stretch of black (heading south, starting with the green arrow) is where he lost traction and began the slide. If you drag and drop the little man and take a look in StreetView you can get a better look at the road surface.

If you look up the road just a bit to the north you'll see where the gravel road crosses the highway...that's where a couple of us pulled off to stow our electronics when he hit the rain. So that's how far he was in to the wet road when he went down...in other words, it was newly wet...just the situation we all know is the worst.

Barely wet, bad road surface, a little crosswind...recipe for trouble. We were all lulled into a false sense of normality by the perfectly straight road.
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