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Thinking of an old friend tonight


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I took a ride today with my girlfriend on the back. It’s early in the Colorado riding season, but we decided to ride over Squaw Pass, past Echo Lake, and on down into Idaho Springs for lunch. The temperature was in the 60’s at home (5600’) but we got lightly snowed on (at 11,000’) going over the pass. It’s about 13 miles up to the top and by the time we got there, I was too cold to stop and put my liner in. I figured the downhill ride into Idaho Springs would gradually warm me up again. It did, but not for the reason I had expected.


Several miles down, I found myself coming around a slight sweeper towards the left. It’s a two lane road and on my left, there’s a dirt road perpendicular to the pavement. A car is sitting stopped with its nose on the left edge of the pavement, angled slightly in the direction I’m headed. Just slightly. I would have been able to see the driver through the passenger window, but for his tint job. As I approach, he starts to come across the road slowly and then hesitates with the nose of his car just about 2 feet onto the pavement. His rear tires are still well on the dirt and he's still 8' to the left of my lane. I rolled off the gas but I'm still moving pretty fast – maybe 50 or so. He hesitates now, so I continue on. I’m running with my PIAAs on so I figure he has seen me. Maybe not? As I close on him, he starts up again, still slowly. He crosses the center line. He's entering my lane!


There is no paved shoulder on this road. The dirt edge starts maybe 6 inches outside the lane line. There’s one of those dirt pull-off areas on the right side, and I can seen now that he’s heading right for it. I can probably come up with about a dozen things I could’a/should’a done, both before and at this moment, but we often don't do any of them. Maybe my reactions were slowed a bit by being so chilled? I probably shouldn’t have guessed he had seen me, just because he hesitated in an unusual place? I do remember ruling out hitting the brakes. There’s no way I could have stopped in the distance I had remaining. None of these factors would have counted for anything though, had the outcome been different.


He kept coming, slowly. In retrospect, I don’t think he EVER saw me. I did what we all do. I reacted instinctively. I was able to swerve from the center of my lane to the far right edge of the pavement and I shot past him without any contact. Cathy told me later that she pulled her left leg up and out of the way because she thought he would hit it. I don’t ride with side cases but if I did, the left one would have hit him for sure. It was that close. I don’t know whether he ever hit the brakes or not. As for the instinctive reaction, I was totally focused on where I needed to go. I’d like to think it was my old dirt riding experience once again. Years of trail riding taught me to respond to sudden obstacles by 1) not panicking, 2) by looking ahead and not looking at the obstacle, and 3) by giving it the gas to carry you past the obstacle as fast as possible. I think that’s what I did. I remember sizing up the dirt pull-off area in case I needed to go all the way off onto it. I didn’t want to though as the dirt would have ended any further maneuvering on my part, not to mention the problem of stopping before encountering some immovable object.


The thing is, we were VERY lucky today. Very lucky. I’ve been at this for over 35 years and I’ve never been down on the road. Truthfully, I’ve never come even close before today. At my age (64 now), I’m sure if that ever happens, it will be a life-changing experience in many ways. For openers, I don’t bounce like I used to! And the other people it might involve....


All brings me back to my old friend, Sandy Craven. He rode dirt bikes with us for years, until he was somewhere around seventy, or so. He was an old WW II fighter pilot. I’m thinking about him tonight. Sandy used to tell us that after each mission, his buddies and he would go to the bar and drink a toast to “Cheated Death Again”. We all had “Cheated Death Again” sweatshirts made at the time. I am wearing mine this evening and offering a toast to my buddies on the board. Stay mindful and stay safe.

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Les is more



I'm glad your instincts saw you through. It's always so necessary and yet so hard to accept that they simply don't see us. I'm really grateful that you and Kathy pulled out of this one with everything intact.

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Thanks, Jeff. Your care means a lot.


Warm wishes for your memories of a wonderful friend, who paid so dearly for the wisdom you as well have shared with us.


Salute to you both.

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Oh man, Jeff. That gave me chills just reading it! So glad you got away with cheating today - I would hate to think about the alternative. Glad you're o.k.

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Sure am glad you and the Mrs. are ok Jeff. These people don't see us because they are not looking for us [they look for cars]. Dumbasses. Bet it shook your wife up huh?


"In retrospect, I don’t think he EVER saw me. I did what we all do. I reacted instinctively. I was able to swerve from the center of my lane to the far right edge of the pavement and I shot past him without any contact."


This is exactly what happened to me on 101 going south toward San Francisco a couple of weeks ago except I was in the left hand lane [of two] and a vehicle came right into my lane forcing me to make a quick decision. Since I was at speed all I could do was roll on the throttle evermore and swerved onto the left hand shoulder and around the dumbass. Glad our instincts are so often right.

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Marty Hill



Glad you able to dodge trouble. Mail going to you as soon as I hit the states.

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Glad you 'got away' safe Jeff... that sounded too close for comfort indeed frown.gif I'm not sure if it is only bikes that people don't see though.. I've been driving all my life and had many of such 'close encounters'. I always like to think there are two kind of drivers... those who just want to get somewhere, and those who think driving is an artful skill that should only be done consciently. Unfortunately in my experience 99.99% of the human population falls into the first category and just stumbles through life's traffic with lots of luck, and care taken by others like yourself.


Kind regards,


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Well done (ridden) clap.gif


Interesting the old friend / fighter pilot aspect, chatting with the restaurant owner at a lunch stop today about m/c risk my comment was you have to keep a fighter pilot attitude re always scanning for problems, having tactics in mind etc.


You were your own hero spotting something "off" in the picture and doing enough to get through OK. Someone rolling along blissfully assuming the world knew they were there would have had a very bad day.



re: "I would have been able to see the driver through the passenger window, but for his tint job"


The tint job business is one of my top 10 peeves ... fortunately BMWST does not have sufficient bandwidth for me to expand on that topic much less the other 9 ! dopeslap.gif

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Glad to hear you pulled through that one safely, Jeff. Very scary. Fortunately, this allows us to still have future chance encounters somewhere in the mountains of Colorado. (A couple years back, Jeff and I just happened to show up at the same time at the same little restaurant for lunch in Idaho Springs. One of those "don't I know you?" meetings.)

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Well, that'll teach you to blow off Tech Daze at Jim's! blush.gif


As I was reading this, I had to tell myself "He's posted this, so he must be OK." I'm glad that is the case. Your experience and patience paid a big dividend. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Glad to read to you made it safely past a potentially very dangerous situation. I can never understand WHY other drivers (on bikes as well) inch...inch...hesitate...forward. Every driver (should) know that we guage their intentions by their motions.


Your experience reminds us all...be safe.




Mike O


P.S. Missed you at tech daze!

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Dang! eek.gif You're a fortunate man Jeff and I'm glad the both of you are okay! blush.gifsmile.gif

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Oh Jeff! Well, Cathy couldn't have been on the back of a more able rider's bike. I'm so glad you are ok.


I reacted instinctively.
Amen and congratulations. Aren't you glad you aren't a young wippersnapper! That experience sure pays off! thumbsup.gif
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Jeff, I'm sure glad the way this worked out. Old habits and experienced payed off again. There are some advantages to getting older and more experienced other than acquiring gray hair and that rugged (weathered) appearance.

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Glad to hear you are ok. You're right - they really don't see you. About a year ago, I was riding in Iowa at night crossing a highway overpass. A driver who had exited the highway turned left onto the overpass in the opposite direction from what I was traveling in my lane. This despite my having the highbeams and motolights on. I slowed down, hit the horn, and prepared to swerve into either the breakdown lane or opposite side of the rode.


I think the horn did the trick and they got back into the proper lane. Anymore, when I am in doubt whether or not someone has seen me, I don't hesitate to get on the horn.

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Glad you turned it into a "non-event".


Curious - How does your passenger feel about riding now? I wonder if she had as much adrenaline going as you must have ...



Chris (aka Tender Vittles )

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as ...


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