The original plan for Day 3 had been a leaisurely start, say around 9am, wandering back home through Montrose, Gunnison and Canon City. This would leave plenty of time for a quick diversion the the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and still get me home before sunset, which would be around 7:30pm. Alas, now I had an extra hour’s ride and was starting out over four hours later, so injuries not withstanding I really had to get a move on.
I must confess that it was not with the greatest of confidence that I wobbled off from the hospital — I took the precaution of lowering the seat a notch and taking off the sheepskin seat pad so that my feet could both rest flat on the ground.
I was back to the campsite and loaded up and ready to go within the hour, which was pretty good progress, and I re-tightened everything, stuffed disposable ear plugs in the appropriate orifices and set out for home at around 2:30pm. I stopped to top up the tank and have a slurp of water and a power gel in Monterey and headed off for a straight burn through the mountains. The thought occured that I may have stopped for gas prematurely, as I only put 2.5 gallons into the 6.3 us-gallon (24 litre) tank …
t was a hotter day than the previous two so I stayed buttoned-up and may technically have been in violation of a couple of speed limits on the way east. When I hit the climb up to Monarch Pass, with its many twists and sudden unguarded cliffs I had a moment of clarity that made me wonder what the flip I was doing, and backed off for the rest pf the way.
I stopped in Salida to stuff some fast food in my face and set off again for home. I realised that I probably had stopped for fuel a little too early as my estimated distance to home would probably put about 240 miles on the tank, and all the real-world estimates I’ve seen say that the Tiger will manage between 230 and 250 without a top-up. I may be benefiting from some thin-air reduced power altitude affect though, as I usually manage 45-50 mpg(US) and that should give me at least 280 miles. So I decided to rely on my luck and not stop again.
It was just starting to rain and get dark as I arrived home at 7:30pm — maybe I hadn’t backed off on the speed quite so much after all, come to think of it. The kids all came running out of the house when they heard the bike and as soon as I was back on two feet they promptly tried to knock me to the ground with their excitement, which was nice. It’s funny that you can spend so much time with them for so long, then you turn your back for a couple of days and they suddenly grow a couple of inches. Huh.
So, now we come to the morals of the story.
The original purpose of the trip was to get away and have a few days to myself before my wife deploys — something to get the batteries of my child care and home life appreciation system recharged. Well on that basis it was a resounding success, I don’t mind saying. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to ride up the driveway and put the bike back in the garage. I also have a new appreciation for hot showers and decent cups of tea. And home-cooked food.
Another lesson learned — spending money on your own self-protection can pay big dividends. Although I pay nothing for my health care I would think that from the amount of dirt ground into my clothing and boots and the scratches on the side of the helmet the $1,300 spent on jacket, trousers, gloves, boots and helmet saved me from some very painful skin grafts and whatnot despite the low speed of the incident. In fact I’m thinking of upgrading to Kevlar in the future — without that elbow wound I would have ridden away from the crash without a scratch on me. I absolutely cannot believe that there are so many people who ride around without protective gear. The sport bike crowd seem to like helmets but think that shorts and a t-shirt are appropriate, and the cruiser crowd like plenty of leather but a dumb little rag wrapped around their head (how do they deal with this sort of thing? No wonder they always look angry).
And then there’s the matter of having engine protection bars on the motorcycle — that saved a pretty penny in respraying or replacing a lot of plastic, and protected all the foot controls (and feet and knees) from damage.
A note on first-aid: a handful of band-aids and an aspirin does not a first-aid kit make. What you need is a big handful of gauze, some wrappings and a bottle of something to slosh into an open wound. Any other injury can wait, thanks.
Well, that’s about it. It’s been an interesting week — we trooped down to the airport at 6am on Tuesday to see SWMBO off on her deployment to Sicily, and I’m now “Mr Mom” for something between six weeks and four months. We find out on Friday how long it is likely to be, and whether I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday in December with an ice-cream cake and balloons or with a more civilised pub-based/curry-influenced event.
And the motorcycle will be staying in the garage until she gets back — no need to take any additional chances at a time like this :D
Ride safe, dudes!