Senior VR Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: The Glass City
Thanked 152 Times in 99 Posts
10/9/11 my buddy Andy on the Dragon
A group of 7 of us met up in the Smokies this weekend and it was Andy's first time down there for our annual fall ride. We did a lot of cool rides including my favorite, the Cherohala Skyway. Sunday it was time to head north to a cabin we rented in the Cumberland State Park and we picked some really cool roads to spend the day getting there. Andy's never ridden 129 north out of Robbinsville, so we decided to do that and get it over with even though it is by far not our favorite route...too many idiots.
Every year I ride with these guys I'm more and more impressed with their abilities. They maneuver their big Harleys (I'm the only one not on an American motorcycle) with precision and ride with maturity, always watching out for each other and never putting anyone in danger by doing something stupid. That's why I continue to make this trip. It truly is comforting to ride with a group of professionals.
Anyway, we were at about mile marker 6. I was third in line and Andy was behind me. We were all stuck behind a white car going about 15 mph for most of the way, which was disappointing to me because it was the first time I had the FJR on the dragon and it was so much easier than when I had my cruiser it may have actually been a little fun. As it turns out, it was probably good we were so slow.
Coming up to a left turn, I see two bikes coming the other way. The first one makes the sharp right (for him) very quickly. The second bike turns in way too soon and drifts off the right edge of the pavement. There was about a 2" lip where the pavement drops off to the gravel and grass, then about two feet more to the right it drops off a cliff probably thirty feet. I'm sure the rider of that bike saw the impending doom of falling off that cliff and panicked. I see him wobbling back and forth with the handlebars and he finally pops back up onto the road...unfortunately at an angle directly intercepting my line. He crosses the center line, accelerating the whole time. In the second or so that this all happens, all I could do is straighten up a little to change my line right a bit and accelerate some.
My reaction worked pretty well, he ended up clipping my left saddle bag, effectively removing that pesky reflector back there, but no other real damage and I stayed upright and was able to u-turn and go back to the scene. Andy was not as lucky. He swerved left, his only real option and the guy hit him just to the right of his headlight. It smashed his crash bar back into his leg, denting the tank, twisting up the floor board and cracking the frame. He went down on his left side and had the good sense to keep rolling until he was off the road. Our friends behind him managed to stay out of the mess, get their bikes stopped and start blocking traffic. One of our guys is a medic so he went right to work attending to Andy.
The guys that caused the crash continued to accelerate after hitting Andy and ended up crashing into the mountain on our side of the road. He popped right up with no apparent injuries.
Andy has a broken right leg and some pain in his hand, otherwise he's going to be fine. I imagine they'll total his bike though.
A couple of notes for those that want to ride the dragon...or any remote mountain road for that matter. It took 45 minutes for any emergency personnel to arrive, a sheriff, and that's only because a park ranger was 5 cars behind us when it happened and could use his radio to call for help. None of our cell phones worked up there and it took a 20 minute ride to get to where they would work. The park ranger was a nice guy and helped with traffic, but was otherwise useless if there were a real medical emergency. He didn't even have a good emergency medical kit on him. The sheriff said it would take almost an hour to get an ambulance there if we wanted one. A wonderful man in a pickup truck witnessed the whole thing and after talking to the sheriff offered to take Andy to the hospital to get his leg checked out.
This whole thing could have turned out a lot worse. Andy loaded his bike in a friend's trailer and his wife came down to drive him home Monday. We never made it to our cabin and ended up staying in Knoxville that night.
"Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does."
"This life's hard, man, but it's harder if you're stupid."
You can't learn anything while you're talking.
'01 Black & Red Volusia - sold
'09 Black FJR
'16 Ural Gear Up
'73 Yamaha CT3
'83 Honda XL250R