Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Distracting upheavals!

The experts say we should do everything in our power to focus on our riding. Which means avoiding distractions. That's pretty good advice. Especially when riding twisty roads. What's really amazing is that things you'd normally not consider distractions can actually be pretty powerful ones! Yesterday I discovered another one of those things.

I had an early appointment in Monmouth yesterday. Monmouth is the home of Western Oregon University. While not a large city, Monmouth does have a unique distinction. It was a "dry" town until 2002. That meant no sales of alcohol in stores, restaurants, and bars. That was a stipulation from the early settlers from Monmouth, Illinois in the mid 1800's. 640 acres were deeded for the city and a college. These pioneers considered themselves strong Christians. Thus the stipulation that came with the land deed. Eventually the dry status got reversed. Even then, the vote was close. Somewhere around 57% for ending the alcohol ban and 43% for keeping it.

Monmouth is about 45 minutes North and a bit West of me. One blessing of living is this area is that we are surrounded by farm country. While urbanization is creeping outwards, there's still plenty of open space. As was the habit of farmers, roads wind around the fields. Sweet!

Sophie saw duty yesterday. I'm sort of in an intermediate stage with her. The STeed is still up for sale. With today's economy, calls are understandably scarce. She's a prize to me but probably not as much so to prospective buyers. Since she's for sale, I've spiffed Sophie up pretty good. The new windshield starts the glamour. Bodywork has been polished. The faded gray plastic was restored to almost new condition thanks to some magic potions and a lot of elbow grease. Sophie is glowing like a new bride.

Therein lies the rub. The bike needs to run once in a while to keep the juices flowing and the battery charged. However, I don't relish the idea of another massive cleanup. So, I'm ashamed to say, Sophie's become a fair weather ride. Whatever you do, please don't say those words anywhere near where she might hear it. You can imagine why I ask. Elvira gets dumped on with dirty weather duty. Hey, I gave her full disclosure before she married into the family! Since there was fog that was expected to give way to sunshine, I gave Sophie the nod for this trip.

After my meeting, the plan was to cross over into Independence then hit the old Corvallis Highway. You've seen this road mentioned before in this blog. There's some straight stretches with roller coaster ups and downs. In between are some great curves. The particular section I'm writing about is a series of corners posted at 25 mph. First there's a big left turn. A few hundred feet of straighaway brings you to a big curve to the right. After that turn is a shorter stretch that leads to a left turn. Then a right. A half mile down the road brings another sharp right, then a left, then back to a long straight stretch. Confused? Just remember the sharp turns connected by short straight stretches!

As luck would have it, I caught up to a car right as I entered the the first left hander. Yes, I saw the car ahead of time. No, I don't have the patience to pull off to the side of the road and wait for the car to get farther away. Besides, what usually happens is that yet another car will come along. So I followed the car for a bit and plotted my strategy.

The car was a square BMW older model four door sedan. The only BMW car model I can readily identify is the 325i because I lust after one. This car was once bright red but had faded some. Kind of like a woman's lipstick put on early in the day and worn late. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the car driver did pretty good in negotiating the first curve. Passing the car would mean a huge handful of throttle followed by a double handful of brake to slow in time to make the next curve. I decided to hang back a bit and see what came next. I do have enough patience not to make unsafe decisions.

Left curve completed, we entered the right hander. I'd left enough space to have a bit of fun in the curve. By which, of course, I mean the right peg scraped. Having fun, but keeping concentration, I noticed the BMW slowing some. The passenger door window came down. A head with close shaved hair came out the window. Somewhere in his mid-twenties, I guessed. His gaze was on the roadway beside the car. Was he seeing something I wasn't? I'm trained to always be looking for traction clues by watching for changes in color and texture on the roadway. No, I wasn't seeing anything menacing. At least, not yet.

We're approaching the next curve, which is to the left. I'm still wondering what's going on. The guy's mouth is open, now. The BMW is slowing for the corner. A little more than what I would normally expect. I'm hooked on what's going on but trying to get ready for the corner at the same time. Since the curve's to the left, I've put Sophie to the right side of the road. Which gives me a better view of the passenger. A little too good, I might say.

All of a sudden, there's a whole new world of color and texture changes to the road's surface. I thought at first that the guy had dumped a big cup of cola or something. Except I notice that there's no cup in the hand clutching at the door. Massive quantities of liquid are coming from the man's mouth. Yes, he's throwing up. Not just heaving, mind you, but bona fide projectile vomiting.

Several things are happening at once, now. My first thought is,

"Crap! I hope that's not going to splatter on the bike!"

Remember, I'm trying to keep Sophie sales-ready clean. My second thought is,

"Yikes! The curve's RIGHT THERE!"

It was like one of those monster movies. You don't want to look but you can't seem to peel your eyes away from it. Not only didn't the driver slow down, but he seemed to actually increase speed through the curve! This served to throw the passenger a little farther out the window. It also created a spray out the right side of the car that seemed to last all the way through the corner. By now I've decided that if the car doesn't stop I'm just going to slow waaay down and let them get away from me. What kind of driver does that kind of thing to their passenger? I figure it's the act of one college kid against another. Evil at the time, but fodder for laughs at some future point. If they both survive the next few minutes, that is.

Fortunately, the driver stops by the side of the road before the next right hander comes up. Possibly being a college student, he probably realizes the effect that centrifugal force will have. If he pulls the same stunt to the right, his sick passenger is likely to puke in his lap. That would certainly deter me from further prankish behaviour.

I was tempted to stop and take a picture for evidence. A restricted line of sight for other traffic is one reason I didn't. Secondly, it seemed too much like the act of a papparazzi voyeur. So, instead, I decided to finish my journey and leave them to their own devices.

What's amazing is how far I got sucked into watching the whole ordeal. It was sick and disgusting and yet fascinating at the same time. In the end there was no harm, no foul. Except to the outside of the BMW, that is. It just goes to show that distractions can happen anywhere at any time. We always have to work at keeping our heads in our ride. Not to mention our lunches in our stomachs!

Miles and smiles,



Jeffry said...

At least you didn't have a gag-reflex yourself in the process.

-Tim said...

Hmm, almost failed because of target fixation...

Charlie6 said...

sophie a fair weather bike, the horror! : )

bobskoot said...

too graphic for me. glad you missed "the spray"

Bryce said...

The UpChuck Chronicles?

Have seen this happen before, and the splatter can be rather revolting.

And the BMW car you desire is a
model 2002 not year, themodel, would be equivalent to a sport coupe. Lovely machine however typical German, a right proper pain in the butt to service.

If you can, keep Sophie for work
Elvira for play.

From what I've read you're an excellent spinner of tales and of
the wheels on a motorcycle. And
to my way of thinking Sophie would be an excellent buy, except she's on the west coast and where it's not deep in snow.

And while we're talking..the neighbour's willow tree had been there for how long? Willow trees, tend to be messy and their roots will go a great distance to find water so if the tree comes down make sure your person next door removes all the roots, they'll keep coming up otherwise.
It may take successive diggings to remove all vestiges of the foliage.

BTW you didn't say what price you wanted for Sophie. Personally I think you'd like to hold on to the machine. It has how many miles on the clock? And because it didn't have ABS was the reason for the change or was it an age related factor as well?

irondad said...

I never thought of that. Fortunately, I have a pretty strong stomach.

Target fixation takes many forms, doesn't it? And the target isn't always something you actually want to go to!

I told you not to repeat it! :)

That's the point. If it wasn't so graphic I probably wouldn't have paid it much attention. As it was, it got my attention precisely for that reason. Sorry if I grossed you out.

The willow tree has been around for at least thirty years according the the elderly man who has lived in this neighborhood for that long. What's weird is that the trunk is still there. It's about 20 feet high but has no branches. Just this ugly scar on top, now.

I'm sort of leaning towards keeping the bike. However, the reason I got a new bike is the ABS. It seems weird to buy a new bike to get the ABS and then ride a lot on a bike that doesn't have it. I've got her priced at $5800.00 which might be a tiny bit high but it's right near the blue book value.

Take care,


fasthair said...

Irondad: Reminds me of the time I came up on a live stock trailer full of beef. I don't think I need to go in to details do I? Needless to say I scoot right around them quickly now. Ah the joys of living in Iowa, cows and corn.


Steve Williams said...

It would be just wrong to have someone sully Sophie in this manner. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I've never had the pleasure to witness this sort of thing from another vehicle. Only from the inside of the offending vehicle.

I think the gag reflex comes more from the aroma and sound than the visual. I did watch that happen once in a small commuter plane and a person got sick in the back. You could here it working it's way forward in the plane. The fragrance was unforgettable.