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November 15, 2007

Riding doesn’t always go without a (trailer) hitch

Expect the unexpected!

By Andrée Lamarche, French translator, Yamaha Motor Canada

The sun was shining, the breeze was refreshing, the road was just too inviting to pass up… Sound familiar? Early one warm morning this past summer, I went out to enjoy a ride on a V-Star 650. No arm-twisting necessary!

VStar 650The fact that a windshield had not yet been installed on the bike I was riding that day ended up contributing greatly to averting a serious accident. After almost two hours of riding and a good many long curves and winding roads, I found myself heading south on a rural highway. (Can you smell the fresh country air? Feel the freedom? Heaven on earth!)

Well, as usual, my helmet visor was up because I like to feel the wind on my face. (My contacts haven’t blown off yet!). Then grains of dirt began to disrupt my perfect world – and my vision. I thought maybe the pickup truck ahead of me had veered a bit off the asphalted surface and disturbed the soft stuff on the shoulder of the road.

Without a windshield and with my visor up, my face had no protection, so I lowered the visor. Bits of grit kept coming up through the bottom of my helmet. I increased the buffering distance between the pickup truck/old trailer unit and my V-Star, blinked a few times to wash my eyes of the bothersome grains.

All of a sudden, there was a sharp cracking noise… and I found myself watching the old trailer slowly moving away from thelamarche.jpg pickup truck. It took a few seconds for me to realize that this very unexpected scenario was really happening… in my lane, a short distance in front of me!!

Luckily, there were no vehicles in the oncoming lane to my left, so I whipped over and watched the trailer dance by me and auger crash into the ditch. There was a huge thump and an impressive cloud of dust.

Look ahead, plan ahead, keep a safe distance

By the time I stopped up ahead and walked back to the crash scene, the driver of the pickup and his passenger were looking at the heap of broken wood that used to be their trailer. We were all unharmed, just a little shaken up and very thankful! (Apparently, the safety chains had broken as well as the receiver.)

In the end, these few seconds taught me in a very real lesson – to look ahead, plan ahead, and keep a respectful safety zone around my bike, out of harm’s way of unexpected flying cigarette butts, gum wads, tire chunks… and runaway trailers!

Guess that’s what the motorcycle course instructors mean when they told us to expect the unexpected!!

Have you had any ‘close ones’ where you learned a lesson in safety?

Ride safe, Andrée

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One Response to “Riding doesn’t always go without a (trailer) hitch”

  1. Bob Hogg says:

    Hey,,,sorry to keep invading your Yamaha blogs, but I’d like to see this keep going. Your blogs are a revelation in information. Please – if I get too carried away – just delete please. Maybe no comments are good – just good reading?

    You’re lucky – that trailer could have bounced in any direction, even a 2×2 or glass piece could have flown off!!! You sound so calm – just changing lanes and watch it go by.

    Back when I could, I decided to take the 650 bike home (test ride) that Mike D. had set up for an East to West coast ride for publicity. (Must have been a common thing back then). I ALWAYS rode bikes very sensible on the road – had something to do with my job.

    Nothing too exciting going on – driving down Finch Ave and wham – a cars front right fender appeared in front of me. My body cleared the cars hood, tucked in the air heading down Finch Ave., my only thoughts were – please don’t let there be anything to stop me!

    I have come off things at more speed than that, so no big deal – but everyone was going in the same direction.

    My reflexes were optimum then – and I had no chance, I didn’t even hit the brakes – well maybe at impact.

    What did I learn? Well thinking back I made a DUMB decision – I decided to only ride off-road.

    This was my first bike issue but it was number three on the road of should have been gone situations – and ALL not my fault.

    There was no reason to stop riding. I’m envious of the riders I see cruising the roads North of Toronto and down here in NOTL.

    Oh.. I think you are allowed 3 chances in every venue – it’s not accumulated.

    Good morning Bob,
    Guess I was simply VERY lucky. I did have a forewarning with the dust coming up in my helmet, and because it was a Sunday morning, the roads were clear – no oncoming traffic. When I stopped on the shoulder up ahead, part of my reason was to give myself a chance to walk off the feeling, “wow… that could have been such a disaster!”. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion… maybe that’s why I didn’t panic. In your case, it sounds like you didn’t have a chance to panic, but then, you didn’t have any indication that something was about to happen. You obviously made it through the impact (and a few others?). Hope you are still riding off-road. Lots of challenges there too! I’m told that’s where we pick up our best skills for subsequent on-road riding!
    Thanks for reading our blog. Lots more to come!
    Andrée


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