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Slipsliding away

The bike: 2000 R1100R, 17K miles, graphite (the stealth color)
Weather: upper 30's, cold, grey, dry
Location: Alexandria, VA
Intersection: 6 lane 45-50 mph road turning onto a 35-40 mph 4 lane road
Safety gear: the full Monty- everything, steel toe boots, padded pants
and jacket.

There I was Saturday afternoon about two minutes into a ride, down
shifting prior to a right hand 90 degree turn, approx 10-15 mph. I hit
the apex, twisted the throttle for a smooth exit and down I went. The
bike just COMPLETELY went out from under me. I watched it scoot about
5-8 feet away from me, still in gear, still sliding on the cylinder head
guard and my right side city case. I have this odd memory of watching
the bike turn a couple of 360's while on its side.

I got up, ran to the bike, hit the kill switch and looked at 10-20 cars
bunching up waiting to get past me. Of course, the adrenalin is really
flowing and I'm in that tunnel where time is either slowing or speeding
up, don't remember which.

I know of one or two other cars trying to get past me, like downed
motorcyclists in the road is no big deal for them. I then tried to lift
the bike myself but couldn't. Two guys in a Mercedes and a large
delivery truck, pulled over to help me lift the bike. One guy tried to
grab the windshield brackets and the other guy put his hand on a hot
cylinder head (guess two minutes into the ride, it wasn't that hot.)
After we all found good lifting points, the bike came right up.

Once the bike was up, Mercedes guy left, delivery guy helped calm me
down. I felt NO pain (shock, anger, embarrassment, yes) but all my
fingers and toes, joints, etc., were all fully operational. I gave the
bike a once over and saw some scuffing on the case and some moderate
grinding down of the cylinder head guard and that was IT. I fired the
bike up, it ran fine. Thanked delivery guy and drove it to a parking lot
for better inspection.

Saw no damage (other than pavement scuffing and grinding) and no
injuries . . . Unbelievable. Testament to the strength of BMW bikes.
Safety overpants were scraped and steel toe boot was ground up where
bike likely came down on the toe momentarily. (Granted speeds were low .
. . )

Lucky, lucky, lucky. Like a good oilhead, I followed all that drama up
with a 40 mile ride on Saturday and an 80 mile one on Sunday. The world
seems ok.

What did I learn? Safety gear helps and works. Head to toe. Watch out
for the "tunnel effect." The adrenalin, your emotions. I wanted to LIFT
that bike and get it up ASAP. But a voice said, "don't mess yourself up,
get help." I had the presence of mind to make sure my helpers didn't use
the cylinder head or windshield brackets as lift points. Slow down,
breathe, take it easy, you're alive and functional. In retrospect it
could have been very easy to be running around and flailing with
earplugs and a helmet, locked in a sensory deprivation "cocoon", not
seeing or hearing other traffic . . .

Lastly, why did it happen? Two reasons come to mind, and one bears
further discussion. The first, I maybe hit some sand that gets spread
throughout Rust Belt cities from November through March and when I down
shifted, down I went. That sand will take you down in half a second.

The second possibility, and I really wonder about this one, cold
tires??? I don't know. This time of year, how long do they take to warm
up? Is it a consideration in the first few minutes of a ride? I have to
think it is.

I take the board through all this, because there are lessons learned
sprinkled throughout the whole event . . .

Thoughts, comments? Thanks for listening.

Be careful out there!