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Blue Ridge Bust-up

Blue Ridge Bust-up

Blue Ridge Bust-up

 

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 5 MICHAEL LARSON
704th Military Intelligence Brigade
Fort Meade, Maryland

 

What an awesome weekend it had been. I’d spent the last four days riding some of the best dirt roads and mud trails Tennessee had to offer at an annual motorcycle event. Being relatively new to taking my BMW R1200GS dual-sport off the hardball, I was intent on learning new skills, meeting new friends and seeing some cool countryside. The weekend was a success and I tested my skills in mud, dirt and water crossings without dropping my GS once.

When the rally ended, I said goodbye to my friends and started my trek north toward Baltimore. I had a lot of time and wasn't in a hurry, so I decided to take the long way back and follow the Blue Ridge Parkway as much as I could. The vistas and views throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, though not as stark as those of the Alps in Europe, have a beauty all their own. I quickly fell into a rhythm while following the snake-like twists and turns of the parkway and was happy with my progress toward home.

Early the next day, I departed the hotel and was looking for an entrance back to the parkway. It was 36 F outside, but I wasn't worried. I had a heated jacket and grips, so I was quite warm. About 20 minutes later, I was in motorcycle heaven — twisty roads and beautiful views. Unfortunately, the day's riding would soon be cut short.

As I negotiated a sweeping right-hand turn, my motorcycle lost traction on some gravel and sand that was spread out across the road. I subsequently low-sided, followed by a high-side, and was thrown from my motorcycle. I slid on the pavement behind my bike for about 40 feet before coming to a rest on the side of the road. After mentally checking my body for injury, I picked up my motorcycle and took a few minutes to assess my situation. My windscreen had broken off of the mounts and my left-side handlebar was bent about 1 inch lower than it should have been. My front forks were twisted, not bent, and my pannier and crash bar were ground down a bit from the slide.

Fortunately, I was wearing all of my personal protective equipment, including motorcycle pants, jacket, helmet, gloves and boots, and suffered no apparent injuries other than a sprained thumb. My BMW Rallye 3 suit, BMW GS boots, gloves and BMW System 6 helmet did exactly as they were supposed to do. Had I not been wearing all of my gear, I'm certain my injuries would have been sufficient enough to at least warrant a hospital stay.

After assessing the drivability of my motorcycle, I slowly made my way to the nearest town with cellular service, which was about five miles away, and notified the state police and my insurance company. Luckily, I was able to drive my motorcycle the remaining 400 miles home.

At the time, I’d ridden more than 50,000 miles over a 30-year period and had never had an accident. Looking back, I believe I failed to properly assess the status of the country roads on which I was riding as well as how the fatigue from riding all weekend affected me. I did not think there would be gravel and sand on the road and certainly didn't think I was physically and mentally worn out. But, as an aftereffect of the winter runoff and my fatigue, that is exactly what was there and what I failed to notice.

This accident reminded me I must always be aware of my limitations, surroundings and time of year I am riding. Had I done so before I started my trip home, I would have assessed my physical and mental conditions, as well as the road conditions, beforehand, not after. Ride safe and remember ATGATT — All the Gear, All the Time!

 

 

  • 14 March 2021
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 1487
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2
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