The odds of crushing my motorcycle’s exhaust header into a pancake, destroying the engine sump guard, ripping off the oil filter, having four quarts of oil spew onto both wheels at high speed and living to tell about it are fairly slim, so someone was looking out for me on a cold and wet afternoon this past February.
I was heading south on I-95 to speak at my first talk of the year, a luncheon for MS patients in North Carolina. Because of an eight-inch snowstorm that was rolling into New Hampshire, I needed to leave two days earlier than I normally would have. I warmed up the home generator, filled all the five-gallon jugs with gas, and made sure the snow blower was all set to go. It was the least I could do for Elin, my wife, as once again I would be 1000 miles away and somewhere sunny when the winter cleanup was being tackled. I did feel a twinge of guilt for about a second, or at least until I rounded the first corner our block.
It was cold. I was riding with all my heated clothing plugged in, head to toe, drawing large amounts of amperage from my alternator as the temperature stayed below freezing for the first 8 hours. I spent the first night at my brother’s house in Virginia, hoping the weather would get a bit warmer the next day. I decided to spend the first extra day I had riding to Florida, as there was a harsh and heavy rain forecasted for the Blue Ridge Mountain area.
It was in the low thirties when I left the next day, and it rained through most of my ride south. I chose to continue wearing the heated gear. It rained on and off a bit; the temperatures rose to a respectable 45 degrees and I made good time using the Florida state line as my goal for dinner.
Driving through Florence, South Carolina, I sped up to pass a tractor-trailer whose spray momentarily blinded me. The crunching collision with a large object in the road was instant, and the bike went airborne. I never really saw what catapulted me into the stratosphere, but for a rare instant, a truck driver and a motorcyclist saw eye to eye. Neither of us blinked. ...
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