West Coast Regional Meet I
May 20-23, 2004
Total Miles: 1,500
Seattle – Fortuna – Seattle
I left work at noon on Thursday to meet Todd at the Krispy Kreme near my workplace. I was already packed and ready to go, so we were on the road in minutes. We headed south to Olympia where we met up with Chris and then went south some more. South, south and south some more. Behold the wonders our our Interstate system. We followed the 5 all the way to the Kelso/Longview area where the guys were kind enough to let me find the cleverly hidden and poorly marked “Route 30 westbound” Um, sorry about the abrupt lane changes there
Rt 30 isn’t really very interesting, but it kept us south of the Columbia river and access to some fun roads inland. I chose Rt 47 to cut southward on – good choice Some really nice twisties along most of the way, with some open farmland interspersed among the hills for variety. I highly recommend this stretch of road. When 47 crosses over 26 and heads to Rt 6 west it flattens out considerably, but does not remain so for very long. The road winds up and down and around and keeps things interesting. There isn’t much civilization around, nor traffic. It was a very pleasant – if not overcast – ride to the coast.
We hit the coast at Tillamook and headed south on 101 where Todd took the lead and showed us a nifty little “Scenic Bypass” – the Road of Doom for me. It turned into a tight one way, one lane road tucked between 101 and the coast. I’m sure it was beautiful Todd led us through with Chris bringing up the rear. Behold the story of the crash: A small left hander, probably going 30mph (?) was the first in line. A steep hill to the left and rolling forest to the right. Pine needles softening the edge of the road, but nothing menacing. After the left hander led me around the hill side I see the right hander and lean into it. Sparks fly!!! Chris was quite impressed and rolled off the throttle considerably at my unintentional warning. Me? I was startled (first time to drag pegs) and not pleased. The pegs felt as though they were grinding pretty solid and I wasn’t comfortable with it. I saw that the road straightened out ever-so-slightly before continuing right so I took the opportunity to pull up and scrub off some speed before tacking Part Deux (this might have been a mistake – I still don’t know). Chris estimates that I was down to 20mph when I hit the second right – a decreasing radius right. I leaned into it but I wasn’t cornering fast enough. I leaned some more, noting the approaching pine needles (remember that this is a one lane road – there wasn’t even a center line to cross if I wanted to). I leaned some more, telling myself that I had to trust that the bike could do it. I leaned some more. I leaned some more and whoops! – there goes the bike out from under me. The VFR slid maybe 20′ along the road and into the grass shoulder before catching on something and flipping completely over onto the left side. I slid a bit on the pavement before hitting the grass and tumbling a couple of times and coming to rest on my back.
Todd missed all of the excitement but Chris was there to help me pick up the bike. We hauled it upright and were in midst of surveying the damage when Todd found us. After some plastic modification we could roll the bike onto the shoulder and began the reconstruction thanks to the prepared handiness of Todd’s roll of duct tape I’d list the damaged plastic, but… well, I don’t think one piece escaped unscathed. Nope. Not one I’ve always told Burners that I wanted a silver VFR, but this was not what I had in mind Luckily both levers were intact (not even bent) as well as both foot pegs. The brake pedal was rather “out of place”, but nothing a handy rock couldn’t take care of for the time being. After a solid tape job I turned the key and pushed the starter. Gave it a couple of times to get gas back into the system from being on it’s side and she started right up. I love Hondas. End story of the crash.
After the crash and heading for Happy Camp
A portent sticker
Nothing a little duct tape can’t fix
If you stand back far enough it doesn’t look so bad
Some bits of information related to the crash:
Pants: Joe Rocket pants (not sure of the model – all weather over pants) tore at the knee where I went down, but only the outer layer of fabric over the armor came off. A slight bruise on that knee and a 2″ bruise on the left thigh.
Boots: AlpineStar gortex – a little scuffing on the right boot at the toe as well as the front shin and ankle (I’d hate to have had hiking boots on )
Gloves: First Gear, not sure of the model – seam on the right middle finger tore about 1/2″ at the tip.
Helmet: Arai Renegade – two scratches on the back left, maybe about 1″ long
Jacket: Fieldsheer jacket under a Tourmaster Rainshell – the jacket is untouched. The rainshell has a couple of small tears in the right sleeve and a couple of other spots.
Overall, the gear performed very well and I’m exceptionally glad that I had it all on.
I do wonder what would have happened if I kept the peg dragging and didn’t pull it up to scrub off speed. Would I have made the corner because I didn’t lose the distance from standing the bike up? Or would I have just leveraged the bike up onto the peg? I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think that I made a really bad decision. I knew that I couldn’t try and ride it out off the road. I feel good that I pushed the bike and that it gave out before I did. If there is anything that anyone else can see that I could have/should have done, please share. We can all learn from this I’m sure.
As a side note, I didn’t feel that I was really pushing myself too hard on this road, but I did notice on the initial left-hander mentioned that I wasn’t completely comfortable. I should have backed off right then, but there wasn’t a lot of time between that thought and the Corner of Doom.
We strapped my bags back on and rode 30 miles to Newport where we had dinner at Mo’s in Newport before continuing south to Florence where we had plans to camp for the night (another 50 miles south of Newport). We camped (long dreadful night of camping it was, too ) and woke up to a fairly wet morning.
From Florence we skipped south to Reedsport before heading inland on 38. This is a nice relaxing road that I really enjoyed. I was a bit hesitant to push the VFR, as I wasn’t entirely sure that it was handling 100% in all conditions, but this road was perfect. We maintained a speed of maybe 75mph with some lovely sweepers that followed a river and wound through the hills. We slipped off 38 and took 138 south to Sutherlin, where we ate breakfast at Digger Dan’s Diner. This is a nominee for the Greasy Spoon Archieve!!!
After breakfast we hit the 5 south to Grant’s Pass, took the Happy Camp road to 96 and, well, yeah, you guys know what it’s like from there to Eureka
Outside the diner
Heart attack city!
While in Eureka I thought that I’d skip the day ride and instead have the VFR checked out at the local shop just to make sure I’d be safe on the 800 mile ride home the next day. While waiting for a someone to come around to make the appointment a shiny new object caught my eye: a 2002 Bandit 1200. Oooh – PRETTY!!! I sat on it. I asked my friends what they thought of this bike. I delved into the gleanings I had from reading various opinions and posts about this bike. I sat on it. I considered my financial situation. I bought the bike.
I must admit that I think I surprised just about everyone at the Meet that night when I pulled up on a brand new Bandit, paper plates and all.
Signing for ownership
BBQ at Dr Gil’s
Taking over the neighborhood
Ready to go
Arriving at the dinner
Chili at the table
New bike in the California sunshine
Ah, riding on 96
I left the VFR in the Good Doctor’s garage until a fortuitous bike sale went through that summer, where RicerX needed a bike brought to California for Shizuko. I handed off the sold bike to Shiz and rode the VFR home, plastics billowing in the wind all the way home.