After many weeks of riding together you start to notice each others patterns. Within the first hour or so of riding each morning Gary takes the lead and usually goes on ahead. Sometimes it’s quite a while before we catch up to him. Sometimes he takes a side road for some sightseeing and ends up coming up behind us.
Sometimes this includes his morning calisthenics. He stands up on his bike while he is riding and does stretches. Yesterday, and that was the last I saw of him; going around a sharp curve about a mile ahead of me. After about five miles through the curvy mountain roads, David came along side of me and gestured, “wheres Gary?” We continued riding slowly. After 20 miles we pulled over because we had never gone that far without Gary turning up again. I mentioned to David that I had seen a strange cloud of dust on one of the curves. He surprisingly said, “I saw the same thing”. We both wondered if Gary missed a curve back there and left the road.
I checked my iPhone for messages and sure enough, “Guys, accident about 5 mins ago. Missed a curve. I am fine but I don’t know about the bike. Come on back.” Our hearts sunk as we turned around and headed back to where we saw the cloud of dust. It was 22 miles back. When we arrived at the scene Gary’s bike was parked, held on the side of the road by two large rocks, and there were several people there caring for Gary; giving him water and bandaging his arm.
The many people we have met on this trip in our greatest time of need must all be angels from heaven, because we have never experienced such selfless acts of kindness. And when we offer money as a gratuity they always respond, “as I help you, you should help others” or “I help you today, you help me tomorrow” or “if I accepted money, my blessing would not be real”.
The wreck was one of the most common motorcycle accidents. Gary took a curve too fast and couldn’t get the bike turned in time. He immediately saw the large concrete drain culvert on the side of the road and purposely laid the bike over hoping he could dismount in time and slide. It all happened so fast. Gary knew this was going to be very bad, if not fatal. For Gary, that’s a strong statement. This is not the first time he has had a near death experience.
As he slid off the bike, the bike hit a dirt mound on the shoulder which launched the bike over the concrete culvert, landing in the shrub trees on the far side of the ditch. Baggage was strewn everywhere. Gary continued to slide and bounce, landing inside the culvert. His first through was, “I’m alive”. He sat there for a second to clear his thoughts and then stood up just in time to see us pass through his cloud of dust. We could’ve never seen him because he was off the road about 10 feet standing in the waste deep concrete drainage ditch.
People passing immediately stopped to assist. In the hour it took for us to return to the seen, people had washed Gary’s face and wounds, picked up all his belonging which were scattered through the trees, built a bridge across the concrete drain and brought his bike across, and reattached his side bags which had flown off in the crash.
We are still uncertain about the bike. It continues to slowly leak oil. The left muffler is bent downward, and Gary finally jettisoned the left saddle bag as it was just too damaged to hold up. But then again, the bike looks like it’s been on a 10,000 mile trip. After three serious wrecks we continue to be amazed how well built Harley Davidson motorcycles truly are.
The rest of the day proved to sum up the reality of what actually happened. Honestly, Gary is happy to be alive. When faced with decisions, as we continued traveling, we heard Gary say multiple times, “whatever guys, I’m just thankful to be here… alive.”