Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nailed twice. What next?

Since Sunday I've had a close encounter with a young woman and lost an aspect of my virginity. Due to the fact that both of us had adequate protection there really weren't any lasting consequences of the close encounter. Now that I have the attention of the deviates out there, I'll also tell you that the last part of the first sentence didn't have anything to do with the young woman.

Like the title of this post says, I've been nailed twice in the last three days. Not a promising week.

Katie had something of her own going on Sunday so I rode up to Salem to take some photos of a riding class. Thus Elvira found herself sitting on the edge of a range near some festive banners.

I think I look pretty cool riding Elvira, by the way. However, here's a shot of my good friend Dean W showing us how to really look cool on an FJR.

Dean and Don were teaching a different class in the afternoon session. I was photograhing a morning group. I'm pretty sure that if I were one of their students I'd toe the line. They look pretty intimidating, don't they?

Somewhere in the process I glanced over at Elvira's rear tire. Looking at my tires seems to have become an ingrained habit that I do without really even thinking about it. I discovered something in my tire that I've never had to deal with before. A nail head flush with the surface of the tire.

Weirdly enough, I've never had a nail in a motorcycle tire before. At least not on a street bike. One time I was riding on the freeway and got a flat on the front tire. That was due to a valve stem that disintegrated. Never a sharp object, though. I've officially lost my "nail in the tire" virginity. Sunday was the first time I was nailed.

Dean and I both looked at the situation and decided the tire was still holding air. I abandoned my plan for a long ride home in favor of the direct route. Forty minutes later and the bike was back home where I just parked it for a bit. The plan was to ride it to a dealer where the tire could be replaced if it leaked when the nail was pulled. Put the bike on the back burner for a bit.

Thus explains how I happened to be in the car yesterday headed up the freeway to Portland. Most dealers are closed on Monday around here and my schedule didn't allow me to take the bike in until this morning.

Traffic is always bad in Portland. Yesterday was worse than normal. According to the traffic reports on the radio there had been several motor vehicle accidents around the area. Everything was clogged up. One of those "you can't get there from here" days. We were doing the stop and go thing through the Terwilliger Curves. This is a fiendishly bad part of the freeway. Crawling along is the norm, accidents or no.

Once in a while we'd get up to a speed that would make you giddy with the thrill. Yes, I actually saw 23 mph for a short stretch. All good things must come to an end and so did my forward progress. I stopped once more, leaving a fair amount of space between me and the car ahead. One of these days over a couple of beers I'll tell you the story about a rookie deputy and a training sergeant. Always leave yourself some room.

Another great habit is to always watch the mirrors. Especially when coming to a stop in traffic. My glance revealed a young woman driving a grey Jeep Cherokee. The good news is that she wasn't tailgating. The bad news is that she was looking down. I'm pretty sure that's not the proper direction to be looking in when driving in stop and go traffic.

Actually, it was sort of entertaining. Right up until she hit me, that is.

Seriously, it was funny to watch her face when she finally looked up. Her eyes got wide which told me I now had her full attention. I have to give her full credit for quick reflexes. No sooner had her upper eyelids disappeared into her forehead then the front of the Jeep started a steep nosedive. At this point I was more an observer than a participant. Though I did have one card I could play at the right time.

If I'd been on the bike, I'd have been out of there by now. We were in the hammer lane. There was plenty of warning due to being diligent in checking the mirrors. To my right was room to split the lane between the two rows of cars. To my left was a narrow shoulder between the car ahead of me and the concrete barrier. I'd left room ahead of me to maneuver. It was a great recipe for success but it lacked one vital ingredient. The motorcycle. Sedans don't lane split worth beans. Being in a car took away those options. Dang, I hate it when that happens!

So I watched and waited. The description takes much longer than the reality. Wait for it. Wait for it. Now! As soon as I felt the first impact I let off the brake and let my car roll forward. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In this case it was just enough to significantly reduce the impact. Often our instinct is to jam our foot on the brake pedal and brace for impact. That may be the correct thing at the time. Or not. Better to go with reason instead of instinct.

The impact over, time to assess the damage and talk to the other driver. One never knows for sure, but sitting in the car I figured that in a collision between a mid-sized sedan and a big Jeep SUV, the sedan would get the worst of it. The girl and I looked at our vehicles while exchanging information. She was quite chagrined and apologetic. More importantly, she has current insurance! Which we most likely won't need. All said and done, there was no mark on her Jeep. My car has the outline of her license plate frame on the bumper.

After giving it a scrub last night there's just a few dark marks and a slight crease along where the top of the plate frame hit. It's not worth the extra hassle to me to proceed any further with the situation.

As to the nail in the tire? I rode in the rain this morning to Fred's Honda to see Buzz. We pulled the nail out partway while spraying soapy water on the spot. Lots of bubbles!

Buzz offered to plug the tire for me but I turned him down. The tire's only about half worn but there's too much at stake for me to trust a plug. Besides, the first session of police motor training is coming up in a month. I'm pretty sure I'll be asking a lot of my tires!

So I'm doomed to drive for the next couple of days while I wait for the new tire. I can live with that. What sort of worries me is the old saying that these things come in threes. What's next?

Miles and smiles,



Lucky said...

And people tell me I'm nuts when I say I feel safer on the bike...

Glad you're OK, your car is mostly OK, and your bike is going to be OK shortly. I've come to the conclusion that nails are even worse than hose clamps when it comes to utility vs. chances-of-inconvenient-mechanical-issues.

Gary France said...

You were unlucky to get two strikes so quickly, but thinking about it, perhaps you were lucky after all.

The tire could have gone completely flat meaning the bike needing to be recovered, or the nail could have come out on at speed if you hadn't noticed it - potentially disastrous. The woman could have been going faster when she hit you, or much more damage could have been caused.

It was bad for sure, but maybe not that bad.... Glad you came out of both ok.

bobskoot said...


lucky thing I already had my 3 last month.

I wished I were there so I could attempted an emergency plug. I've never done the procedure before but your tire would have been the guinea pig for my first attempt.

thankfully it was uneventful, and you are safe

Wet Coast Scootin

Charlie6 said...


consider yourself fortunate its taken this long to be de-virginized when it comes to nails in tires. I've had, two in the RT, one in the R80 and I think loose spokes took out the pusher tire on the Ural....

good reaction to the impending idiot....never heard of doing that, might try it, if I ever find myself in a's not that often anymore.

oh, and this is why you have a "spare bike".

want me to talk to your better half about this now proven need of yours?

Mike said...

Sorry to hear you got nailed twice, Dan. It would be interesting to know how many rear-enders happen on the curves each year. Glad everything is working out so far. Maybe you should keep your helmet on for a while. I'm just sayin'

bluekat said...

Way to get out of riding in all the rain this week! j/k :)

I got nailed in my first year of riding (more fuel for the deviates). My tire didn't loose air, and I just happened to look and see the same thing, a nail head flush with the tire.

I'm glad everything turned out all right. You've had some really close calls this week - you might want to go buy a lottery ticket.

I hate the Terwilliger curves! I seem to hit them when everyone is doing 80.

Best rest of the week, and hope your tire gets here for the next sunny day!

irondad said...


There is a lot to be said for being able to get out of the way more easily, for sure. I feel weighed down in a car.


Thank you so much for keeping us all on the bright side!


You'd have been welcome. Much better to practice on somebody else's tire before having to do it for real on your own.


Believe it or not, I thought of you. If I had been a real stud I would have simply removed the rear wheel to take to the shop.

As for talking to Katie, thanks but no thanks. You'd have her plotting with you to buy me a Ural!


I'm having trouble seeing the keyboard through my full face helmet and visor but your advice is sound!

Don't know how many rear-enders there are up there but it's surprising there aren't more than there are. ( that's a weird sentence but I'm going to let it ride )


Thanks for the sympathy and cheery thoughts. I appreciate input from relatively newer riders. Keeps us jaded old timers enraptured. You have so many new adventures ahead of you.

Take care,


Dean W said...

What I want to know if she looked up because she was done texting, or just getting ready to start the next one....

ha-ha, only (sadly) serious.

Orin said...

I'm hoping removing and replacing the rear wheel on Elvira is easier than on a Vespa GTS. I have to figure on an hour's shop time to r&r all the components that are in the way. The original Vespa design brief called for both wheels & tires to be the same size, and they were held on with lugnuts, just like a car. This made a spare tire possible. I hope Piaggio will consider this when (if?) they start designing the GTS' replacement...

Scootin' Old Skool

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dan:

I am pleased to see you are using my classic bait and switch method of starting a story. It had my attention in a second. While I'm glad you had a minimum of aggravation with the nail in the tire, I thoiught we were going to get a lesson on curbside tire repair.

I am delighted you could see the humor (and that there was some) in getting rear-ended. The tap from her jeep would have felt much worse on your bike. There is nothing more frightening than to see the back, or top, of someone's head in a moving car.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Dean W said...

The rear wheel on an FJR may be easier than the front. Unbolt the caliper torque arm, remove the axle nut, pull the axle; drop the caliper & mount (& ABS sensor); slide the wheel 1" to clear the drive splines.

This is when you get mad at yourself for not remembering to put the centerstand on short piece of 2x6 so you can get the wheel clear of the rear fender...

Chuck Pefley said...

Was the Jeep pilot using her cell phone, I wonder?

I sorry to say I've lost count of the number of tires I've replaced on various scooters over the last 8 years. Most were the result of punctures and sadly still quite serviceable. A plug kit did come in handy the last time, and I've not had a flat since then. I think the moral to the story is if you're prepared, you won't need to tools. Sort of like carrying an umbrella -:)

Chris Luhman said...

I'm glad you weren't hurt! Last time I had a similar experience the driver was doing about 55MPH, and I got to spend time in the ER. No fun!