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Mon Jul 23 2012: Ouch in Saskatchewan

This is how it all starts

In Michael Crichton's book "Airframe", about an airplane crash, he describes that a disaster like that is never dependent on one single cause or event. Rather, a sequence of events have to occur to contribute to a crash. Here's my sequence of events: o

Somewhere in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, my air compressor stopped working. It was one of those large 12-volt jobbies with the light, the attachments for volleyballs, air mattresses, inflatable dolls, etc., but the part that screwed into the valve stem started leaking so I junked it. I decided we needed something a bit smaller and less dependent on electricity, in case something went wrong with the electricals. So at a Walmart, $9.99 later, I picked up a foot operated pump.

Which promptly FAILED the first time I stepped on it. Apparently I misread the label on the box. I thought it had said, "Made in China", but actually it read, "Made out of Chocolate". My bad...

So we were now without an air compressor. Event #1.

Just taking a nap... after having the wind knocked out of me...
after a huge speed wobble and lowside in deep gravel

After visiting Castle Butte, we headed out to find the Sand Hill of Saskatchewan. We had been doing fine on street pressures in the lightly graveled road of the Bug Muddy Badlands, so we were feeling over-confident that we didn't have to let out the pressures since we were without our own air compressor and gas stations were few and far between. Event #2.

I check the Google, online maps and my GPS and can't figure out a way to get to the Sand Hills. so I opt for the most direct route and force the GPS through several unpaved roads. Normally this yields good results. Not this time, though. The road turns from unpaved to deeper and deeper gravel. I'm sure the Sand Hills are just a few kms away. We don't turn back. Event #3.

We're traveling at 70km/h, much too fast for the road conditions, and waaay to fast considering we didn't let the air pressure out of our tires since our stupid Walmart chocolate foot pump broke. In my rear mirror, I see Neda slow down by a lot, and then the speed wobble hit my bike. The handlebars violently shake left and right, wrenching my arms in both directions. The motorcycle starts to weave left and right, as the front wheel moves side-to-side, each oscillation getting worse in amplitude. Logically, I know what needs to be done: I need to relax my grip on the handlebars, grip the bike with my knees, and roll off the throttle slowly. But my natural instincts kick in and I do none of that. In fact, I do the exact opposite, and that is the final event that led to this:

Aeroflow windscreen is not flowing air too well anymore

The motorcycle slides into the left ditch, resting on it's right side at a 45 degree angle, and I get bucked off into the middle of the road, I put my arms out to brace myself on impact and feel a searing pain in my right shoulder and my left ankle. It takes me a second, but I get up and signal to Neda that I'm relatively ok, I don't want her to worry too much, but she comes on over the intercom, and her voice is shaking with concern and fear anyway.

Although the bike is not laying entirely on it's side, the ditch is about 4 feet lower than the road, so we have to get it upright and ride it back up. That's when I notice I can't raise my right arm more than a few inches. This is not good. Neda struggles with the bike while I can only stand by helpless. Somehow, she manages to get the 600lb bike upright, almost all by herself and I can get on the bike in the ditch. Using my left hand, I grab my right hand to manually position it on the throttle tube and then start the bike up. It fires up without a problem and I ride it up and out of the ditch. There is considerable pain in my right shoulder but I still am able to handle the controls properly.

Maybe I should get engine guards...
On a ride, Gadgetboy from ADV once looked at my guardless jugs and asked me,
"What are you, some kind of tough guy?"
I don't feel like one anymore...

We rest at the side of the road and I lie down, exhausted by the effort and adrenalin is starting to leave my body, leaving me lightheaded. My pain in my ankle is actually a bruise right on a spider bite I got the night before, lot of pain but nothing serious. I still can't raise my right arm though which is worrisome. Neda does a survey of the bike, the Aeroflow windscreen is toast, the handguard's mount is broken, so is the right front turn signal but other than that, the bike is still rideable. A few trucks (carrying fresh gravel!!!) stop to make sure we're okay, and when we tell them where we were headed, they all look at us puzzled, "We've never heard of no Sand Hills around here...", and "We're bringing fresh gravel to the end of this road, it goes nowhere right now...". Crap! All this for nothing...

We let the air of our tires for the ride back, it felt much more stable. As it turns out, the riding position (after I place my right hand on the throttle with the help of my left hand) is the most comfortable one for my shoulder, as we ride away from our aborted mission to find the Sand Hills of Saskatchewan. I know the first thing I want to do right now is buy a large electrical air compressor, you know: one of the 12-volt jobbies with the light, the attachments for volleyballs, air mattresses and inflatable dolls...

I'm guessing I'll need a few days to fix the bike and figure out what's wrong with my shoulder, so we stop at Cypress Hills provincial park for the night. Two extra strength Advil dulls the pain as I feel sorry for myself in the tent for messing up our trip, and right at the beginning as well!

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