Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Entirely my own fault - Bollocks!

And I was hoping the winter was on its way out. Yesterday at 9am I made the most basic of errors and turned down a sideroad short cut to avoid some traffic lights. As I got to the bottom of this road the surface suddenly took on the appearance of the downhill ski section of Cypress Mountain, Whistler. A light kiss of back brake - ABS kicks in, max chat - just the time you probably don't want it, along with the 1:7 hill. The ice was not patchy, there were no patches, there was, however, zero grip - lots of it.
I glided slowly into the thankfully empty, quiet suburban T junction, having made the decision to come to a halt, after my gentle right turn (there was a parked car dead ahead), and re-assess continued travel. I turned right as intended, straightend up and selected my landing site, just ahead of another parked car. But the road was now the fully monty bobsled run and what appeared to be slushy snow, was solid ice. At what was no more than a brisk walking pace, the back wheel drifted gracefully left, aided by the camber, whilst I applied more and more oppo lock until the bars were full left on the stops. I really wanted more. In my youth I'd seen Ivan Mauger do this stuff at 70mph using one hand, but those nice BMW guys in Bavaria hadn't allowed me more lock and my tyres were fresh out of spikes. I was bolt upright, sliding ever so slowly sideways down the road, almost broadside. I even had time to confirm that the clutch was in and I wasn't standing on any brakes. Then it just tipped over onto its left side, with yours truly plonking down next to it - no slide, just plonk.
I get up as a lady in a VW stops 25 yds behind me. She gets out looking worried and asks if I'm alright, before her legs go from underneath her (ice again, not a faint) and I end up helping her up. "Do you need a hand picking up your bike"? "That would be nice madam, but it weighs about 600lbs and there's no room for you to grab anything, so just be patient and I'll soon have it out of your way". I assumed the GS lift position, check back is straight, tense core muscles (I do pilates you know), head up and wind on the collective pitch and up she slowly came, engine still running quietly. Lady driver gave me a very nervous wave and then slapped her left hand back to the steering wheel as she slid off to find a dry road, knuckles white and eyes fixed dead ahead in petrified stare. Quick check revealed nothing, nix, zip, zero damage. Just some gouges out of the paint on the engine crash bars, a bent screen strut and a loosened handlebar mirror. For some reason those scrapes reminded me of a `Hitlergramme` from Spike Milligans's hilarious book, "Rommel, His Part in My Victory" when Spike reminds Hitler that he started the war because he `kicked the shit out of The Poles`. Hitler replied, "Everybody kicks zer shit out of zer Poles. Zat iss vy zey are zere".
I rode off, feet down, bolt upright and turned out of the frozen waste that was Manor Road and went home. The bars were painted up with Hammerite smooth within the hour and the screen strut was hammered straight and re-fitted before the paint was dry. My fault entirely. I wanted to avoid a traffic queue and took my well known shortcut but didn't do what, hitherto this winter, I've always done i.e. keep to the mains `cos the minors fend for themselves. A couple of aches in the shoulders and hips this morning but hey, I'm of an age where it hurts just a little longer, but my trusty Hein Gericke kit bore nothing more than a grey, watery muddy patch. Hey ho. Onward and upright. As my hero, the great Mike Hailwood once allegedly said, "The three golden rules of riding a motorcycle are 1. Always know your limitations. 2. Everybody falls off. 3. Everybody falls off". Today is a beautiful day. I may fire up the Harley.

30 comments:

Conan the Librarian™ said...

There are two simple rules for riding smoothly and fast in snow and on ice.
Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
The thirteenth rule of motorcycling.

Hogday said...

LOL Conan, bloody funny that one! I was truly caught out with no time to bug out. The dusting we had overnight had gone in my village but the town clearly has its own micro-climate - and now I'm making excuses so I'll shut up.

Stressed Out Cop said...

Glad you are OK

GOT MY OWN RULE

1. Don't ride motorbikes .. lost friends who loved them but was it worth dying?

Crime Analyst said...

HD

Mike Hailwood .... a true sporting legend if ever there was one.

A few months into the job, having mentioned to the shift that I had never seen a dead body, that was soon to change as I got sent to every sudden death that came up.

One night 1n 1981, I had to escort one such unfortunate to the central mortuary in Birmingham. My responsibility completed, the mortuary officer led me to a curtained off section where the otherwise extremely healthy looking body of a man lay waining for the arrival of relatives. On the table next to him, lay the body of the mans 9 year old daughter.

The mortuary officer, an old sweat, informed me that these were the bodies of Mike Hailwood and his daughter, who had died earlier that evening in a road accident with a HGV. Apparently, Mike had just nipped out with his daughter to get some chips for the family tea.

The old sweat was a bike fanatic and he welled up as he respectfully tended to the great man. That experience lives with me to this day and I recall being humbled and privileged to be in the presence of a truly great man.

There are those that say he would have given Rossi a real run for his money.

ATB - Steve

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Hello Hogday!

i have a question for you, sir, I have read that the UK is suffering from an acute salt shortage, is that why the road had not been salted?

I am a County Badger here in Wisconsin, and, if during my nightly patrols, I were to find a hill with the conditions you describe, I would have been on the radio to dispatch, to have them let the county highway dept. know that they need to make a run past that hill with a salter. Or was it more a case of rapid cooling, and ice formation before the local road people could get to the ice?

Thanks, and see you at Lex's.

Hogday said...

Stressout:
I'll sell both bikes immediately ;)
Wait a minute, it's only got 2 wheels, it's SUPPOSED to fall over.

Steve:
Mike the Bike, my sporting hero and I don't do hero worship! Yes, it was a common or garden RTA that did for him and his daughter, after years of racing. I believe they were in a Rover SD1, also standard police issue of the day. His website is well worth a visit.

Scott the Badger:
Good morning to you Sir. Yes, we've had a salt shortage this winter, i.e. local authorities didn't expect this particular winter. We have this quaint problem in the UK. Snow comes as such a shock - every year. The main roads were treated and bone dry. This was an urban side street with just the thinnest covering of overnight sleet that had frozen. I work for the town council and know for a fact that they probably wouldn't have treated it, even if someone called it in because winter is nearly over and anyway the sun was up and just needed to move a few more degrees to thaw it for them. That's why I kicked myself for taking that little shortcut, although in fairness to my own bruised arse and ego, I simply failed to anticipate this frozen road after a hitherto bone dry, snow-free ride into town. As we used to say in the police, assumption is the mother of `cock-up`. Still, I've done 40 years in the saddle. We don't get snow like Wisconsin! You will indeed see me again at Lex's.

powdergirl said...

Glad you're all right!

I did one broad side slide this year, on the worst possible piece of road imaginable and was extremely lucky that the blind corner I slid into was wide open.

So thats when I went out and bought the fabulous studded tires that haven't seen more than 2 snow falls since : / sigh.

TonyF said...

Some years back, I was on leave. Well, actually I wasn't I should have been back at base, but I was waiting for the snowplough. I followed the plough for some miles, fortunately he was clearing the 'easy' route out of the village. The Whitby - Pickering road was Ok...ish. And then I was on my own. Got through Malton and the blizzard started. In no time, I was lost (on a road I knew well) I didn't dare stop as the snow was up to the base of the cylinders and I think the front wheel was just sliding, but the snow was holding us up. A bizarre situation. If I had stopped I would have been stuck. After what appeared to be for ever, I managed to get off the wolds where there was no snow.. I was not believed when I arrived at work more than half a day late.

I was put on 'Snow Clearing Team' for a week as punishment. Which was a larf, 'cos it did snow, and I had a cushy job as a Sicard operator. (Imagine a huge snow blower towed behind a 3 tonner.) Some poor sod did manage to sweep up all the frangible lamps from one side of the runway and launch them over the airfield though.

We also had a device called a 'MAD'
A 'Mechanical Airfield Deicer' it consisted of two DH Goblin engines on a chassis with a little cabin in between. This little inflammable assembly was strapped to the front of a bowser (a BIG inflammable assembly). Both engines would be started and the modified jet pipes aimed at the offending white stuff. This could cause all sorts of effects. Varying from; Total White Out to Melted Asphalt. It was also possible to push the bowser backwards. Once, the damned thing lifted up a huge sheet of ice which then 'hovered' its way onto the airfield (Bit like a sheet of paper weighing hundreds of tonnes)It flattened barbed wire, knife edge barriers, emergency water butts, and an Avpin shed.

Sorry about that, I pulled up a sandbag there.

allcoppedout said...

Harking back to the mists of my has-been days I had a number of fine British Motorcycles. Mending them kept the kitchen lino well-oiled and me pretty fit from pushing them. The fact they can be ridden seems a bit like buying an exercise machine that plugs in and puts the effort in itself. I may be able to remember where I buried the Greaves 250 before buying the MZ that really built-up my thigh and upper body strength.

Blue Eyes said...

As you are OK I will have a chuckle at your expense.

When I went mountain biking many years ago I was told that during moments of no grip DO NOT BRAKE! It won't work and will just interfere in the important business of staying upright.

睡衣 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

Hogday said...

Powder: I always blame myself. I rarely argue back! I really must do a Canadian winter - one weekend :]

TonyF: What a hilarious picture you painted there. And I know those roads. Delightful in the summer, but killers in winter. A lady was drowned near Pickering the other week when her LandRover got washed away as she tried to cross a ford. As for the airfield blower and the Goblin MAD - priceless! How did we ever launch Lightnings in winter?

Allcopped: I love old Brit bikes. I started riding when you could still buy a brand new BSA - alas, no more. Sure miss my old B40.

Blue: Laugh all you like. I will get my revenge one day, maybe burning rubber down Aldeburgh High Street? Will they run my sort out of town?


睡衣 : You're welcome.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Oh man, I started to cry thinking the bike was going to be a total wreck...(I do cry when I see a police Harly go over...not much else makes me cry)
In police motor cycle (motor bike for you UK folks) everybody crashed a bike a few times on the track the first week... We mostly used the old Kawisaki KZ 1000, which were easy to dust off after going over--not so the cops.

We had a few Harleys in the class, and when one of them went down, you could hear everybody "gasp" in fear..."Is the bike OK?"
Nobody ever seemed to care about the cop on the bike in the class.

JuliaM said...

Wow! I find ice scary enough on four wheels, never mind two...

TonyF said...

We used to launch them sometimes, but hadn't cleared enough runway to receive them. They went elsewhere. That particular winter we were on 'Q', it was quite interesting. I think we only lost one day when we couldn't launch an 'All aluminum pursuit ship, designed to shoot little boys at the moon' aka '18 tons of screaming aluminum'

One of our Jockeys was airborne for 6 hours one Xmas day (Southern Q)He must have tanked 5 times, in the end he lobbed into Brize, as he had run out of tankers, and the SMO grounded him...Nice Christmas pressy..and we had to generate another war load.

A damn fine aeroplane, under developed though, the F7 swing wing and the TSR2 would still be in service today if only our 'leaders' could lead....

Hogday said...

TonyF: Don't get me on the subject of Denis Healey MP.........

De Campo said...

Even out here in Colorado we don't ride when there's snow...or anything close to snow out.

We have bigger issues. They don't use salt here but rather sand and gravel. Even after all is melted you still have a nice coating of sand and gravel on the road.

This makes for some great high speed lay down plunking.

Blue Eyes said...

I'll get the Aldeburgh sheriff to keep an eye out - maybe a pre-emptive ASBO is in order?

Hogday said...

JuliaM; I didn't mean to make it sound scary, cos it wasn't really :)

RollerDude: Spoken like a true Brother.

De Campo: Yes, like the title says, `Entirely my own fault` - but in mitigation, the snow was hiding down this road - classic ambush ;)

Blue: I'll be sure and leave a few headless chickens in my wake :))

Hogday said...

TonyF: Ps. Like the expression `lobbed` into Brize lol. A Lightning jockey instructor from ETPS Boscombe told me Lightnings don't actually land, its just a controlled crash. Clearly a true term.

TonyF said...

The normal landing speed was around 145kts, somewhat faster than most light aircraft can achieve. Full air-brake, quite a bit of throttle, so if the brake 'chute doesn't stream on time, full throttle and brakes away. Go round and try again. If you have the fuel. The tyres could last up to, oooh, 10 take offs and landings. But usually they didn't. In fact, 1 take off and, er, landing often ruined a set of tyres. They never, ever, did a 'touch and go' or 'rollers' unless the brake chute had failed and they were going too fast to take the RHAG or Barrier.

Hogday said...

I could talk Lightnings all day - and already have. sorry. Would probably still out perform most current front line aircraft in a straight drag to 60,000 feet. An old chum showed me a photo of one alongside a `Bear` that was throttled right back. The poor bugger in the F3 had everything dangling in the breeze, including his wheels I think,to stay in the air. And Denis Healey said it was the end of the manned fighter and scrapped the TSR2 as well. What a visionary....

This post started with me pranging my BMW

TonyF said...

I dropped my Spada III on diesel some years ago. Bugger.

I have think that in real terms, the Lightning still holds records for fully armed aeroplanes. Top speed..Well, it always ran out of fuel before ceasing to accelerate but in excess of Mach 2.8. First to have 'Super Cruise' without reheat. 0 - 50,000ft fully armed in about a minute.(yes I know a specially prepared F15 did just beat that, but it wasn't armed) Full to empty in under 20 min....I think our record for an un-tanked sortie by an F6 was 1 hour 40 min. I bet he was worried. On Q, 0 - Kinloss (tanker) could be done in about 10 min. That's 300 miles and no 'S cruise' over land. Honest guv. Brakes off at Vally to brakes on at Binbrook, 17 min. And again, no 'S cruise'.
Top Ceiling is still debated. The Rad Alt was useless at those heights, And the Baro Alt was above it's limits of inaccuracy. 88,000' has been bandied about. Considering it's operational ceiling was about 60,000' and the missiles couldn't cope with much more, that's not bad.

11 Sqn did have a pilot that complained that his AI23b had shut down at 70,000'. He was referred to the AP101 for the jet, pertaining to its operational ceiling. He discovered he was lucky, the Radar should have shut down at 64,000'. And by the way Sir, What were you doing up there???

George Saint said...

Glad to hear the solo survived with hardly a dink, why is it that it's always the pretty one that gets the worst of it in a drop while you can ride the garage spare in all the worst conditions and it never takes a hit?

I have really got to find another ugly bike.

Hogday said...

GeorgeS: Yes, the BMW IS the ugly spud as far as I'm concerned:) Having said that, despite it looking like the designers were locked inside a tumble drier as they sketched out what it should look like, it is a technological marvel. The Harley is actually heavier, yet easier to pick up when on its side (another story + pics coming up about that factoid;)

TonyF: More amazing stats. Perhaps we really did beat the Russians into `space` ?

Area Trace No Search said...

HD, sorry to hear about the spill. Let's hope your pride recovers as quickly as the bike does.

I remember coming off in a very similar set of circs, whilst following my step-mother and trying to prove to her that there was no need to drive a 4x4, even in the snow on country lanes.

Ahem.

Urban School Teacher said...

Great title for a blog and great resilience after a crash. I would never, ever consider getting on a motorbike.

Hogday said...

Mr Teacher: Lovely to see you over here. Thanks for looking in. Please check out the blogs of my chums and former colleagues, I think you'll identify. I always felt an affinity with your profession (the one my Dad wanted me to follow). I'll drop by and take a peek over at your place soon. PS> Motorbikes aren't as macho as their riders like to make out ;)

Blue Eyes said...

Good morning everybody, it's a brand new day.

Hogday said...

Hello everyone, the above was Blue, with one of the memorable quotes of Gordon Brown (he forgot to mention that he went on to state that, `statistically, a brand new day when compared to days that are not exactly new, but nearly new, do in fact represent.... oh bollocks, I reiterate, this post started out as me pranging my Beemer on ice......