Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 44: July 15th, The Crashing End of the Summer Ride??

We were loading up the bikes when I decided to don full leathers and wear my helmet. 

Wyoming is a no helmet state and I was considering riding in jeans, t-shirt and no helmet. 

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 territory of Chief Joseph and his courageous resistance to Union Army during the last of the Indian wars. 

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,

Hard 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 cars
My 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 pain

Opening my eyes I saw Buzz lean over me in reverse from the top down
I 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 Great Falls MT, 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.  

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,
Twitter: @GonzoCrossUSA
Cell: 949-433-0761

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 43: July 14th, Devil’s Tower, Deer Strike in Bighorn Mountains

Well, the weather finally caught up to us.  We had to don our rain gear for warmth and to be dry.  Passing by Sturgis we exited and went into the H-D Store for some photo’s in front of the store as well as on the main street where all the bikes park on Rally Week.  Then it was on to Devil’s Tower where we took some photos and got on our way to visit Ucross.

Where is and why Ucross you ask??  Well, my favorite mystery writer, Craig Johnson, supposedly resides in Ucross, WY, population 25.  He is the author of the Walt Longmire Mystery Series and on all the back flaps of his book jackets Ucross, population 25 is always mentioned.  So I had to find it and visit it.  Not sure if “Craig” (pen name?) lives there or not but the place is real!  It is located at the intersections of US16 and 14, about 30 miles southeast of Sheridan and 15 miles northeast of Buffalo.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 42: July 13th, Wildlife Loop, Another Herd of Bison

This morning I got the GoPro working and anchored on my helmet.  With that accomplished we decided to try it out on the ride through the Wild Life Loop of Custer State Park.  So we headed to Custer City and then headed south to get on the Loop.  No sooner were we on the road then we came upon a pasture area that was full of Bison….and they were all over the road.  This time I am the one who got surrounded by them.  There was a grand daddy in this herd also, and the beast came right up beside me.  I swear he was giving me the evil eye and considering hooking me!  This guy was a monstrous beast!  I was so happy to be out our there….and disappointed later when I found out I had the GoPro off and not on…NO VIDEO of the BEAST!  Damn!

Later I experienced another hair raising event.  In a climbing curving section of the road a young driver in a Toyota came around the turn half in my side of the lane.  I pushed the handle bar down to the right and back to the left abruptly swerving and missing his fender by inches.  Waaayyyyy too close for me!  Thankfully the rest of the ride was uneventful.

We then did the Iron Mtn road again so we could video it.  If I ever figure out how to post video’s I will get that inserted into this post.

After riding Iron Mtn for the 3rd time we then headed up to Deadwood but only to pass through it on our way to ride Spearfish Canyon.  This is my first time on this road and Wow! The road is a great ride with views of the unique canyons and river running along side the curving canyon road.  This road is a must ride if you’re ever in the Black Hills.

We ended up at an Italian restaurant just outside of the town of Spearfish and had a pricey but excellent meal.  Then the long ride in the dark back to Rapid City.

Today we completed all the objectives of our trip to South Dakota.  Tomorrow we head into WY.
C ya’ll mañana,
Twitter: @GonzoCrossUSA
Cell: 949-433-0761

Day 41: July 12th, Crazy Horse, Deadwood and Full Throttle

Another perfect day for riding….man, I can’t believe how lucky we are in regards to weather and avoiding the rain and hail that is happening in Sturgis!

First thing we did was head to the Iron Mtn road to ride that again and get photo’s of Buzz at the tunnel with Rushmore at the other end of the tunnel.  We caught the light just right for some great photos!

Day 40: July 11th, Surrounded by a Herd of Bison

Another perfect day to ride in South Dakota!  After a delicious breakfast at the Hotel we headed to Mount Rushmore enjoying the sights along the way.  As we were walking into the shop area of the Park we came upon HOG members from Belgium.  Naturally we had to take a zillion pics of the group of us.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 39: July 10th, Riding the Badlands

After an excellent breakfast (omelet and pancakes) we headed east out of town to the Badlands.  This was a very fun ride.  We stopped along the road, there was very little traffic, shut the bikes down, removed the helmets, and just listened to the wind rustling the leaves and the hay.  Pretty cool.

At a bridge we took some photos of the area and also of the park sign.  Then we were at a gift shop at the east end of the Badlands and from there we rode to I-90 returning to Rapid City and HGI for dinner.  I rode from the gift shop to Wall where we picked up I-90 sans helmet.  Pretty cool.  I did this once before with Buzz when we rode the Keys and he stashed the helmet in the trunk of his Ultra Classic.  It is just a great feeling having the wind running all around your head!

Day 38: July 9th, Famous Wall Drug!

We had a nice breakfast at the motel then loaded up and hit the road taking 29 north to I-90 at Sioux Falls west to Rapid City.  As we passed through Sioux City I got momentarily confused as I was expecting I-90 to show up but it didn’t.  Then, remembering to use the Garmin, I got reoriented to the correct locations.

Before I forget, while we were loading and getting ready to ride to Rapid City a truck driver came up to us to chat.  I asked where was he from and he said BC, Canada.  He needed to exchange $35 Canadian for American so I traded him for it.  I figure I’ll use the coins when I’m in Winnipeg Manitoba for the Three Flags Classic

The ride on 29 and 90 was a repeat of last year’s ride when I headed to Rapid City from Nashville.  Only last year I stayed in quarters on Ellsworth Air Force Base that is located nearby.  But the ride is still the same….it is long.  Some folks think it is boring, but I find the endless rolling hills and visibility for miles very fascinating.

The thrill of the day came, however, when we finally reached Wall Drug.  Neither Buzz nor I had never been there.  There were many visitors but we easily found a parking slot and went into the Drug Store. 

Wall Drug is HUGE!  It is about the size of 5 normal stores back home!  Everything that could be sold is on the shelves here.  There is even a restaurant and ice cream bar in the store.  Buzz and I had a cone of favorite flavor and enjoyed eating it as we checked out all the merchandise.

Then it was time for the photo shoot and to head to Rapid City a little farther on.