But while feeling the morning air and cool breeze, and knowing we’d be up over 10,900 feet, I knew it was going to be cold. Also, we are heading up onto the Chief Joseph and Beartooth Highways that have challenging switchbacks, it might be a good idea to be prepared in the event anything goes wrong. Such were my thoughts at the time and I am so fortunate that my thinking head was screwed on for this day.
We rode onto the Chief Joseph and took a requisite photo at the sign then headed on up into the beautiful vistas and
and his courageous resistance to Union Army during the last of the Indian wars. territory of Chief Joseph
Notice that Sophia is in the grass next to the sign....she likes off-roading!
The Chief T-boned into the Beartooth where we captured this photo before continuing our climb (notice Pilot Peak in the distance over my right shoulder?).
Shortly after making the turn onto the ‘Tooth we came upon a rest area where I captured this photo of
. Pilot Peak
Then we climbed, and climbed, and climbed, finally reaching the plateau where there is a General Store. I rode into the parking lot but Buzz didn’t cuz he won’t ride on gravel and dirt mix. From there we continued on our climb finally reaching the highest and started a slow descent.
By the way, I asked Buzz to take the lead on this ride because this is one of the highways he was so excited to ride. We came to an area where there was a lake and I couldn’t help but admire the reflections on it and the mountains, the clear air, the joy of riding.
I brought my attention back to the road and down shifted with a little added power to begin entering the blind curve that was coming up. Suddenly, Buzz was flapping his arm to slow down.
We’re coming around the blind curve to discover a line of cars at a dead stop. I‘m doing somewhere around 50 mph when I see this. I panicked….again!
SLAMMED on the brake big time…..kwap…there’s no room to stop.
Bike is skidding,
I’m fighting the skid, keeping Sophia upright and on course
Cars getting closer
Can’t see around the line of cars if there is oncoming traffic
No room on the shoulder….
Hell I wouldn’t be able to maneuver that far right
All these things flashing through my mind
Buzz is in front of me and I’m closing in on him
I’m gonna hit him first before hitting the stopped cars!
I’m gonna DIE!!!
And I did hit Buzz first.....Sophia’s front tire touched Buzz’s fender just lightly......Enough to slow the front
But not the rear tire skidding past my right
The bike dropped on its left side briefly and then flipped over onto its right.
Slamming me into the asphalt and dragging me into the asphalt gulch and curb
I hit hard on my right side......Right forearm, shoulder, thigh got real friendly with the asphalt
The bike dragged me about 25 feet into the gulch, away from the carsMy head hit the road, pebbles, and the raised asphalt curb.
3 times I smacked that curb with my head.
I remember thinking, “I am so glad that”, THUNK, “I decided to wear” THUNK, “ my helmet” THUNK!!!
Once stopped, I just laid still collecting my thoughts.
Hmmm, what should I do first?
I decided to start checking for pain.
Feeling my extremities, fingers moved ok, toes wiggled.
Right foot is trapped under the bike.
Arms are ok....no pain
Opening my eyes I saw Buzz lean over me in reverse from the top downI said, “Why are you upside down?”
Buzz claims I said, “Are we having fun yet?”
I told people around me that I was ok and was going to get up.....Slowly.
But everything was fine, My elbow was stinging and we found a bleeding skin abrasion from rubbing on the inside lining.
Other than that I was ok! Nothing was broken!
Wow, that money spent on Calcium tablets sure paid off!......but I bet I was going to be very sore in the morning
Yeah, welllll the soreness started within an hour.
Cars were still not moving so we up-righted the bike and moved over to the opposite side where more room was available. Other bikers were there to help get Sophia up and collect my gear. We inspected the bike and found minimal damage. The Engine guard and saddlebag guards protected Sophia and me as well. But the engine guard was bent back about an inch and was crowding my right foot and brake. But all was operable. Amazing!
We decided to ride down the hill to Red Lodge, about 30 miles downhill, and spend the night there instead of at
, our original destination. My thinking was that I
probably would need to start resting now so we could be ready to ride 500 miles
tomorrow. Great Falls MT
As we rode down the mountain, Buzz and I observed the bike as it rode and maneuvered the curves….all seemed to be well. This kinda reminded me of my Maintenance Test Pilot days in the military, many moons in the past.
But about 10 miles later I had to stop. There was a burning pressure and pain in my right hip. I didn’t know what it could be because I was sure I didn’t break any bones, but it was an overwhelming pain worthy of inspection.
We stopped on the side of the road at a vista point, and dismounted. I unbuckled and dropped the chaps, then the jeans, then the underwear. There was a huge lump on my hip protruding about 3 inches. Not sure if Buzz said “Ewww” because of the lump or because of my butt hanging out in the wind. Cars rode by honking! I heard a female voice yell out, “yay dude!”…..she was probably too young for me.
I told Buzz that I better go to a hospital and get checked. So we continued down the hill, on schedule to meet our next disaster!
Just as we entered Red Lodge’s town line, Buzz and I heard a high pitched squeal and then I heard him on the radio yelling, “Crap, I’ve got a flat, I’m going down!”. But he kept it upright and got to the side of the road.
I got Bone Daddy’s Cycle shop to go out and give Buzz a tow and I went to the hospital….am so glad that I did go for a checkup.
Dr. Linda Hall was the attending ER physician, and I was very fortunate she was on duty as well as the team of nurses there. They all were very attentive and helpful. X-rays didn’t show any bone breaks but the left leg and hip had a serious hematoma that was already causing significant swelling. Dr. Hall did a thorough examination in view of my being on blood thinners . This included a CAT Scan of the cranium to ensure the impact of my head on the curb did not cause internal bleeding as the hemotoma on my leg/hip. The CAT scan gave us good and bad news. The good new was that we didn’t have to worry about hemoraging in the brain. That was because of the bad news……no brain could be found inside the cranium! Wow! Am I ever lucky!
Buzz got us a room at the Hotel Pollard and we planned to spend 2 nights there so I could recover enough to continue our ride to Glacier NP. I rode the bike the 1 mile to the Hotel and let Buzz park it for me. Then I crashed after downing 800 mg of Ibuprofen.
The soreness started already, no need to wait for manana!It was here and now!
IATOFTS! (I am too old for this sh*t!)
C ya’ll mañana,