About 75 miles into what was supposed to be a 250-mile daylong romp through the mountains my play date with five other like minded individuals with a need for speed came to an unexpected end when I decided to ruin my day by tossing the S1000RR into the woods.
The pace was again relaxed and speeds were nowhere near what they were previously as there was a little traffic and we had just taken a twenty-minute pit stop a few miles back. I was the fourth bike in our group of six, approaching a mildly downhill left-hand turn with a slightly negative camber. I’ve ridden this road a handful of times before and enjoyed it. It’s a scenic little stretch of deliciously curvy asphalt winding its way through a dreamy forested area before opening up and climbing over a mountain range. Pure sport bike heaven.
It is hot, the midday sun is high in the sky and a gentle breeze ripples the luscious foliage of the forest as the sunlight filters through the trees and dapple the road ahead in a mesmerizing kaleidoscope pattern of shadows and light. It is a soul-touchingly tranquil sight to behold. Even though Mother Nature’s light-show makes it difficult to focus. The constant shift between shade and sunlight doesn’t help matters in depth perception either and the glorious end result: you can’t see shit, your eyes get tired from the strain, your brain hurts and you now know why cruisers like to cruise. They are bathing in the serene and basking in their machines’ overly restrictive limitations. But none of that speed demon hating serenity was even an issue. This particular scene is just vivid in my mind’s eye for some reason. How peaceful it was, how relaxed I felt. How I was in the moment, content and — dare I say, happy. Couldn’t have come into that corner all that hot, if I actually remember my surroundings. I never remember the scenery. Scenery? What scenery? We ain’t here because it’s pretty. We’re here with an entirely different agenda. I could tell you all you’ve ever wanted to know about surface conditions, curve geometry, and road hazards, though. But that waterfall back there? Didn’t see it. Don’t care. That’s probably also the reason why I hardly ever know where exactly I am, what road I’m on, or why I get lost a lot (don’t really listen to my GPS either). I also have a tendency to blow past my turn-offs, oblivious until it dawns on me (hopefully not too) many miles later that something is amiss. Where was I? Oh yes, I remember…
I am coming up on that fateful left-hander. I brake, tip the bike in and am giddy with the realization that I’m about to drag a knee through a left turn on a public highway. That never happens. Ever. I’m too short and my rearsets are too far up. Oh, and my lefts also suck. Twice my knee has kissed public-use pavement in a right turn. Twice. On the fabled “Tail of the Dragon”, in the same bumpy, gouged-by-hard-parts crap curve that I don’t even like all that much. The only thing that particular shit corner has going for it? It’s banked past the apex and exits into a fun uphill kink, if you’re going south that is; going north it is an animal of a different ilk.
My childlike excitement quickly gives way to perplexity when it occurs to me that the angle is all wrong. I can’t really pinpoint the cause for my concern, but something doesn’t quite “look right” or feel right, for that matter. As I am lost in wonderment, it suddenly dawns on me that I am not hanging off. I had no business getting excited over left-side knee dragging action in the first place. I was sitting sedately center, lazy as a lump on a log. What else didn’t I do? No customary downshift to keep the bike from gaining speed by use of engine compression; yes, I was lazy and made the conscious decision at the last second not to, after all we’re not pushing the pace here or anything. At this same instant my left knee touches down, followed in quick succession by various other body parts that aren’t supposed to (not on a good day anyway). Thigh, hip, elbow, upper arm. Complacency turns into an unstoppable slide into the wild. I am separated from my bike, slide off the edge of the road onto the narrow shoulder and then am unceremoniously flung into the great beyond after my Beemer. The only cognizant thought I manage is an acute awareness that this isn’t going to be any fun at all, accompanied by a lingering sense of obtuseness still presiding over the fuckery currently in progress. I may have yelled “oh shit!”, or maybe I just thought it as I flew over the side of the embankment and dropped from sight.
Things get a bit fuzzy here. I think I may have changed direction once or twice mid-hurl. It’s dark and I can’t see anything. I don’t feel anything either. When I come to my senses again, I am disoriented. It takes me a moment before I come to the conclusion that the world isn’t upside down, rather I am; standing on my head, buried in leaves and sticks by self-insertion and with boots sticking out of the underbrush. I have dirt in my mouth. I wonder what my predicament must look like from above. I have dusty grime in my nostrils and it tickles to breathe. My disjointed musings are interrupted by a screaming one-word thought that pierces my reverie and gets me moving in a hurry in an effort to right myself and extract various body parts from their entanglement: “SPIDERS!” I struggle to invert myself, whilst working to keep a lid on the rising panic in my chest. I finally manage to get on my feet and slowly turn around.
The S1000RR came to rest maybe ten feet from where I am now standing, emotionless and quite detached. The thought of spiders forgotten as quickly as it had come. The Pirate is taking a dirt nap on its left side, nose facing forward. I make my way there, stumbling and falling once, hit the kill switch and turn the ignition key to the “off” position. I notice I’ve landed in a scattered pile of old bike parts. Not the first one to play this game, am I? I see your Harley and raise you a BMW. Great. I make out what looks to be an old headlight cover and a broken off rusty floorboard, both of which the guys later haul out of this graveyard to tease me with. Yeah, I have wicked friends. Fucking sickos.
I turn away, there is nothing here I can do, and begin climbing the steep slope, pulling myself up by roots and tree branches. I keep sliding back down the hill, my boots unable to gain purchase in the loose dirt and thick covering of leaves. Someone’s arm appears over the edge above and I reach out to clasp the offered helping hand as I am clawing my way up the hill. As I reach the top, I see my Wing Woman, standing there next to one of my other buddies who had pulled me out of my predicament, lit cigarette in hand, which she shoves into my face, inserting it between my lips, stating confidently: “You’ll be needing that.” I had quit smoking a few weeks ago. Don’t mind if I do. Please and thank you.
After a while the dissociative state I’ve been enjoying thus far leaves me and I start freaking out, pacing, repeatedly exclaiming that I need to call Joe, my husband, but I’ve lost my phone. Frantically searching, but not really seeing. “I need my phone. I need my phone. Have to call Joe. My phone. I have to call Joe. I need my phone…” Two strangers had also stopped to see if they could help and they joined in the search for the phone, which was eventually found. I was told that I was in a state of shock. I kept reassuring everybody that I was OK. My phone was recovered by the stranger on the Gixxer and was elevated to Hero of the Moment status. Holding onto my phone, I quickly calmed down again, but I didn’t make the call. Not then.
While most of the guys were trying to figure out how to recover my bike, I surveyed the scene of this latest example of a “failure to complete the turn” in hopes of determining what exactly had happened. Knowing the cause of a crash is hugely important to me. It means the difference between learning from a mistake and being at the mercy of repeating it. One long skinny skid mark running parallel to an even skinnier white line are the only visible signs of my premature get-off. Well, the shoulder looked like a wild pig was hunting for truffles, but otherwise there was nothing really to see. A fresh scar six foot up a nearby tree and a broken off rotting corpse of another tree were also blamed on my recent display of motorcycling prowess. Someone said that the skid mark is from a locked up front wheel and the white line was caused by my left rearset, more than likely. The missing chunk of wood six foot up a tree gave cause to wild speculation of flying BMWs and how this feat could possibly be accomplished. No other clues on the pavement were in evidence as to the possible cause of the crash.
It took six hot and sweaty dudes pushing, pulling and dragging the Beemer quite some distance through the woods to reach a spot where the forest floor was closer to road level and the incline of the embankment was shallow enough to get the bike back up on the road. The Pirate was trashed. The nose was smashed, the fairings on one side were almost ripped off the bike and cracked and broken on the other. One mirror was missing (so were several other miscellaneous bits), the front brake reservoir was shattered, the radiator was hideously cracked, the front forks were tweaked, it was generously leaking fluid of every flavor. She was a damned mess. The sight of her was so pitiful I wanted to cry.
But enough of that, we needed to get the heck out of there, before the cops showed up and the real fun began. The kind of fun that involves getting a de facto speeding ticket and whatever other citations they like to retroactively hand out to bikers who wad up their wheels for whatever reason. What a load of crap! Anyway, after a little jiggling and yanking to get the bike into neutral from whatever gear she was in, she cranked right up. Yeah! That’s my baby. German engineering at its finest. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking and all that. When it came time for me to ride her to a safer location, I lost my composure yet again and proceeded to freak the fuck out. Nope. Can’t do it. Can’t ride her. I have no brakes, a broken shifter, mangled levers and I left my courage down below along with one mirror and the left-side fairing panel. One of the dudes rode it to an undisclosed location for me. I also refused to ride his bike to follow, mumbling something about not being emotionally ready to wreck another one in the same afternoon. He rode it for me and he had to ride bitch back with another guy in our group to get his own bike. Yeah. I’ll never live that one down and neither will he. Not with the crowd I hang out with. 🙂
And that is the story of how the Pirate Named Trouble was left for dead 300 miles from home and I walked away with a bunch of ugly bruises, a neck injury which is mostly healed, and a load of psychological problems for which I’m still undergoing self-directed treatment. 😉
Oh, and one last thing: Wear your fucking gear. ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time)! The one lesson you should take away from this: even if you’re not riding hard, or getting sporty, or pushing your limits, you can still go down at any time, when you least expect it. Had I’ve not worn my full race gear and a full-face helmet, I’d be either dead or a vegetable someone has to spoon feed and then later wipe my ass. Uncool.
Today, two years ago, after over 35,000 awesome miles on the 2010 BMW S1000RR, I threw it off a mountain and that was the end of it. The end of an era. Chapter closed. Turn the page. Oh, wait; you can’t, can you? I haven’t written a single word since May 21st, 2012. Over three years of the story left untold. Admittedly, I stopped writing because I started to feel like I had nothing to say, and when you have nothing to contribute it is best to shut the hell up and let someone else do the talking or sit around in meditative silence and enjoy some quiet time. A truly alien concept in a world that doesn’t stop talking, I know. Cacophony reigns supreme, over-stimulation is king, and silence is awkward. But I digress. I am again ready to add my voice to the proverbial choir; I haven’t, after all, bought a car and called it quits with stupid fast motorcycles. The passion never ebbed, but the motivation to share had definitely dried up. I return to you then, my dear neglected readers, armed with three years worth of knowledge gained, a healthy dose of hindsight, the same sick sense of humor and “I do what I want” attitude, a tome full of stories about as well organized as my suspension setup notes, a collection of milestones which may or may not include a stolen mile marker on an Interstate highway somewhere in South Carolina, a renewed excitement to share my journey and roadside adventures, excessive wordiness and the blatant use of the longest runon sentences in recorded (blogoshpere) history. Stay tuned for the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s gonna be a wild ride.
What does this sudden reemergence of writing enthusiasm mean for this blog in the future? A change of direction, a change of focus, and of course, a visual revamp and probably a change of name. Out with the old (not literally, of course) and in with the new, as they say. Gradually and over time, as it goes with all half-baked ideas. 😉
- Miss Busa Tested: While I was otherwise preoccupied, I’ve had plenty of stuff and shit to try out, stress test (and crash in or with) and form an opinion about. Gear reviews will keep on coming.
- The Garage Party: Motorcycle maintenance tips for the under-informed and the clueless. Yep, still hip to that.
- The Wrenching Wench: –Caution! Low flying tools– The hilarity, borderline alcoholism, costly catastrophes, embarrassing trips to the machine shop, and smug satisfaction that is derived from learning to work on your own motorcycle, so you can fix shit when it breaks and show the crapchanics at the local stealership the figurative middle finger while your wallet stays tightly closed and your unwillingness to get ripped off by them yet again shines cleanly through in that self-satisfied smile of yours. Yes, still doing that. You haven’t missed much since last you’ve seen me around. I’ve gotten as far in as the transition pieces past the throttle bodies, but the camshaft cover is coming off soon enough.
- Tales from the Road: Ride reports. Oh yeah, baby! Those are my favorite stories to tell and pretty much how this blog got its start and meager but loyal following.
- The Library of Two: Mini book reviews. Here to stay. I’ve read a little since. I need to update that section most definitely. Maybe expand on it. Who knows. I have some ideas.
- Dashed Hope or Pleasant Surprise: Nope. Still not going to do a podcast or a vlog. I don’t have the voice for it and the camera adds ten pounds and three inches to my ass and nose respectively. And that’s that. Besides, my Internet-sponsored anonymity and its inherent license to be a total know-it-all douche would be severely compromised.
Speaking of the good, the bad and the ugly, let’s start there. In reverse, somewhat chronological, order. It provides an excellent backdrop to the scene, the significance of this anniversary and an insight into understanding the direction in which this leg of the journey takes us. Accingite vos, my lovelies, accingite vos.
What the hell? “What I’m hearing is you telling me I have to wait until TOMORROW to read about it? One simply does not start the first season after un-cancellation with a damned cliffhanger. That’s not how it’s done! You suck!” Yeah, I do what I want. But really, it’s not like I planned this. The idea came to me suddenly, out of the blue, from nowhere, like a left-turner with a broken blinker whipping it out in front of you as you speed down the highway of life at almost double the posted limit. In other words, I’m still writing it and I’m out of practice. I’ll see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morrow. By the way, I take my coffee with cream and a packet of [insert my favorite no-calorie chemical compound intended to sweeten things] served in a mug with the letters “WTF” emblazoned across the front. 🙂 Until then…
Dear Miss Busa,
It has come to my attention that you have become infamous with my colleagues at work. As I was gearing up for a nice little ride on my motorcycle; you know that thing that works IF you keep it upright at speed? Anyway, as I was getting ready, Bobby walked over to me to say hello. The following is the conversation as close as I can recall:
Bobby: “Heya, Joe!”
Me: “Hey, Bobby! How’s it going?”
Bobby: “Pretty good. Great weather to ride, huh?”
Me: “Yes it is. Where’s your ride? I see you are cruising around in that big new Ford of yours.”
Bobby: “Yep, but I’m about to start riding my Hog again. The gas prices are killing me.”
Me: “Uh-huh, save some of that green.”
Bobby: “Got that right! Say where’s our girl, Crash?”
Me: “She wrecked her bike. Guess following me to work in the truck isn’t as much fun as riding.”
Bobby: [looking incredulous] “She wrecked it again? How freakin’ fast was she going this time?
Me: “A little over 120 miles an hour.”
Bobby: [now chuckling] “Guess the roads are safe again … for a little while.”
As you can plainly see, you are reinforcing your reputation with your latest antics at the track.
This is a desperate plea to you. I am begging you! When I said to come back with your shield or on it, I didn’t think you’d take me so literally. I want you to win, but gee whiz, I thought you’d do it in the customary way, you know: first across the finish line. Well, I guess if you’re going to be Number One in crashing, we should lobby WERA to include a Crash Class in the award ceremonies.
“… and Miss Busa wins the Golden Turd for the most impressive and expensive lowside this weekend.”
I have written the acceptance speech for you, too:
“I’d like to thank WERA for putting on a great weekend; the corner workers for schlepping my bike out of the gravel trap yet again, I know you guys are getting tired of it, so thank you; many thanks go out to the medics who have conveniently relocated the ambulance to wait near Turn 1. You guys rock! I would also like to thank my sponsors: BMW Parts Division, FedEx for their awesome overnight service, Bondo, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Georgia. Last, but not least, I need to show my gratitude to my mechanic; however, I’ve done this so often, I’ll have to start working on my own shit.”
Anyway, my point is: congratulations, you’ve earned renown points. I love you, Babe, you keep doing what you’re doing, if you aren’t crashing, you aren’t trying.
Your loving sponsor
I had called my service department to let them know to expect delivery of one busted up Hayabusa on Saturday. We are kicking around the local rocket shop to see if there’s anything that strikes my fancy in case The Fat Lady is pronounced dead on arrival. I listen to my VM in the parking lot and am told to call the ER back and ask for the Charts Nurse, so I do. I am told that I need to come back in, since the last bone of my left pinky is broken and they need to splint it. Screw that, I want to look at bikes first, so we go in. Of course, my hubby wastes no time to tell everybody that his wife done wrecked her Hayabusa. Doug, our regular sales person, wastes no time to tell me that it’s time for me to “get off the sport tourer and onto a real sport bike”. Geez, people… do I have that bad of a reputation? Calling the ‘Busa a sport tourer is just plain wrong. It’s a hypersport, thank you very much. Hell, call her a drag bike, call her anything, just not a sport tourer. Damn! LOL They only have two models I’m even remotely interested in. The Honda CBR1000RR and the Kawasaki ZX10. The Honda sits and feels better, but for that price tag I’m looking at a BMW S1000RR with RaceABS and DTC. So the CBR is out. I don’t really like how the ZX10 feels. I can’t really explain what it is about the Kawi that makes it feel off. It’s the same with the ZX14, it’s too upright, too far to reach, which is weird, since it is not; I have plenty of bend in my elbows, it just feels too far. I think it’s more of a feeling of sitting ON the bike rather than IN it. On my ‘Busa I have a choice: I can sit on it for long trips, I can sit in it when I’m getting serious. I suppose that’s what my problem with the ZX10 is. I feel plopped on, rather than being part of the machine. Not to mention that all these bikes feel like bicycles to me. The clip-ons are too narrow, they feel too light, too skinny, too insubstantial. But I suppose that’s to be expected when you come from a H-D Sportster 1200 Low (which is a top-heavy clunky porker) and then a Hayabusa. I haven’t parked my bum on neither the Yamaha R1 or the Suzuki GSX-R1000. I really dig the Ducati 1198S, but that bike is about 7K outside my price range. However, it is one hot Italian mutha! Yes ma’am!
I don’t have gap insurance, so I’m guesstimating that I’ll be 2-3K in the hole if they total my baby, depending on how much money they’re willing to part with; plus the 1K deductible. That sucks… but hey, I have a 5-year extended warranty plan. Woooohoooo! I have a test ride scheduled with a Beemer dealer in Greenville, SC on April 6th (that’s the earliest I can make it up there without having to go by myself). It’s looking more towards ‘totaled’ than it is ‘fixable’, according to the scuttlebutt at the shop. Financially, it would be better for me if the verdict is ‘fixable’. If it is ‘totaled’, the smart thing to do (again financially) is to get another ‘Busa (so I can put all my extras back on), since the only aftermarket parts that are damaged are the Pazzo Racing levers and the RAM mount for my GPS (which I have a spare part for to repair it). However, I really have a errr… bad case of the drooling lusties for the S1000RR, even if it means I’ll have to do 224 miles round-trip to get it serviced and have to do the minor things myself. Of course, the ZX10s would be the only viable choice, because I could pretty much have one of those for my deductible. Fugg me! I don’t really want anything other than either my Hayabusa back or the S1000RR, even if it’s financially irresponsible. 😦 I’d rather cancel my slot in the Kevin Schwantz School this June than get stuck with a bike I really don’t want and won’t be happy with. ARRRRRGH! But damnit, any bike is better than no bike at all, if it really came down to it.
I spend the next four hours sitting in the ER to get my broken pinky splinted, a 3-minute procedure, which my hubby could have done himself. I also saw three different people for it. Wow! The inefficiency of bureaucracy in action. Their hospital administration needs to think about a little something called ‘streamlining’.
- 113 is the new 27. (missbusa.wordpress.com)
- I Am So Backordered! (missbusa.wordpress.com)
- Crunched: 2010 in Review (missbusa.wordpress.com)
- Best Accomplishment in 2010 (missbusa.wordpress.com)
The following message is brought to you by massive doses of Ibuprofen:
After taking pictures of the abuse I put my poor ‘Busa through, Joe took me to the scene of the ‘occurrence’. Rather than trying to talk about it, a few pictures is worth a thousand words, and a video by Mr. Slow is worth disconnecting your Internet for. 😉 I meant to say: a video is worth a thousand pics. Really. I did. No. Honest. Here we go:
After inspection of the damage on my bike, riding gear, and the evidence at the scene of the ‘occurrence’ (I had some training in accident investigation in college) I have to say this: I only walked away from this, with some bruises, a light concussion, and a body that doesn’t seem to want to quit hurting in all sorts of places I didn’t know existed, because I was wearing my gear and have educated myself by reading books on riding technique and practicing these skills on a daily basis (and continue to do so, well… would continue to do so if I had a bike that was in one piece.)
The day after my crash I dragged my sore self out of bed and made the phone call to the insurance company to report my ‘occurrence’. No, I did not have an accident. I had an ‘occurrence’. I numbed the pain that had now spread pretty much all over my body with the prescribed pharmaceuticals and had Joe take me to visit the Fat Lady at the place she currently calls home. We checked in and on the way to the bike we were intercepted by a dude in a paint booth suit. “I know who you are. You own that Hayabusa they brought in last night.” I nod in agreement and tell him that he is correct in his assumption. He proceeds to tell us how he owns a 2002 Hayabusa and is going back and forth on the idea of selling it and further states, that when he spotted my ‘Busa he had to go take a look. He said that as he came up on her from the back, she didn’t look so bad, but once he circled around, he said: “Holy shit, I’m selling my bike. I’m done.” I laugh. He says that a few hours later he had changed his mind back to: “Hell no, I can’t get rid of my bike.” I told him that if I were him I wouldn’t sell. Yeah, he agrees, he can’t be without his bike. He escorts us to The Fat Lady’s parking spot and we shoot the bull while I’m checking my girl out. OMG! She’s a mess. Poor baby! I did that to her, shame on me!
It was not my foot peg I dragged, it was my tailpipe. My Gilles rearsets are in perfect condition. I conclude that this happened due to my lowering the Hayabusa by approximately 1.25 inches. I would have never dreamed possible that I was running out of cornering clearance. I didn’t think I was THAT aggressive in the corners. Thinking back on it, though, my husband has told me that he thought I would drag tailpipe before I ever got a knee on the ground and that I came pretty close to dragging said pipes a few times when we played in the twisties around Helen, GA. Apparently, he was right. I’m almost positive, had I worn my leathers that left knee puck would have lost its virginity right then and there and I may have conserved that little bit of extra clearance that the bike needed to take that turn. I still don’t know how fast I was going, I estimate around 35-40 mph, but that’s pure conjecture at this point.
Also, now that I finally had occasion to test out my frame sliders, I highly recommend LSL Crash Pads, those things do their job, and do it well. The bike never spun, but kept sliding in a straight trajectory just like the sliders were designed to make it happen, even though it seemed to have flipped twice side-to-side. The damage on the fairings is mostly caused by impacting the curb and sliding along it. Had this been on flat ground, like a track, they would have saved me a LOT of money. I’m getting them again. Definitely. Who knows, they may even be the reason my bike won’t be totaled, due to saving the frame. We shall know in a few days.
Preliminary Damage Report:
- Every single piece of plastics is toast and needs to be replaced (except for the upper instrument panel cover, it’s safely at home in a bag)
- Frame slider crash pads and skid puck need to be replaced
- Both mirrors
- Both front master cylinders
- Both front levers are busted
- Left side controls are shot
- Both rims are shot
- Both tires are done for
- Both cans are done
- Right-side heat shield needs replacing
- Tank is busted up
- Windshield is trashed (however, the stock one is at home, but who wants to put that back on?)
- Steering stabilizer is loose
- Spools are crap
- Stator cover is marred
- The hump cannot be opened, it is stuck shut, so I can’t get the ‘junk outta my trunk’
I forgot to check her out underneath. Not a clue if the exhaust is intact or not. The frame seems in good shape, and so do the forks, but that doesn’t really mean a thing. Now the waiting starts. If you asked me if I would favor the outcome of ‘totaled’ over ‘repairable’, I couldn’t tell you which one I’d wish for. I love the ‘Busa. I dig it. It fits me. But apparently, my riding style has evolved into ‘proper sportbike’ territory. I still don’t know if I’d get an S1oooRR or another ‘Busa, if The Fat Lady has sung her last aria.
I’m still sticking to it: I’m 90% safety-conscious. 10% all squid, no crab. =D And I have to admit it to myself, even though I love the Hayabusa… a LOT, she is probably not the right bike for me (can anyone say BMW S1000RR?), the way I corner and love the curves, especially if they’re in rapid succession. And as much as I hate to do it, if she is determined repairable, I’ll have to return her to stock height to accommodate said need for cornering clearance, even if I have to tiptoe her in my race boots. Further, if the entire exhaust system is shot from header pipes to cans, I’m getting something else put on, from the start and pay the shop the difference. Those stockers have got to go. I’m getting myself a shorty single. That should further solve the clearance problem. Even if I am blowing through town at a 103dB. Or maybe some Yoshis instead of the Brock’s.