Join Date: May 2010
Location: Austin, TX, USA
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.
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.