Monday, February 23, 2015

Viva, indeed.

And now for a trip down memory lane,

Juvat's funny story here, coupled with Borepatch's October crash, made me recall a similar incident back in my younger, dumber days.

The year, if I recall correctly, was 1986. It was a fine summer day, and a much younger me was in fine form, having just watched a great movie the night before about a man that I looked up to as a role model back in those days.

The man: Evel Knievel, a virtual god of motorcycles and stunts in the nineteen seventies.

The movie: Viva Knievel!, a 1977 action-adventure film starring Knievel as himself.

The next morning, inspired by the movie and my typical "If they can do it, I can do it" attitude that was getting me into a lot of trouble back in those days, I built an impressively high ramp out of some old 2" thick picnic table boards and dragged it out into the street in front of our nice little suburban home. Then I fired up my trusty machine, a 1979 Suzuki PE 250.

Confidence was sky-high on that bright, sunny morning as I made a few anticipatory passes by the ramp with my front wheel off the ground and my engine revving. It wasn't going to be enough to just soar for a few seconds; I had to get the attention of everyone around first. I needed an audience, because this was going to be epic.

And came, they did. Several younger neighborhood kids materialized and took their seats on the curb. A few other neighbors came out on their porches to watch the show. I had my witnesses for this hallmark leap and I'd planned this right down to the last detail, calculating just exactly how fast I needed to be going when I hit that ramp in order to get some impressive distance but still come down on the rear wheel...I'd calculated everything, except for one thing:

You see, I may have been a good bike rider, but I was a lousy structural engineer and an even worse carpenter. And this all became shockingly apparent to all as I took my final run at that ramp and hit it at speed, only to have it shatter under the weight of bike and rider as I hit the mid-point of it. The ramp collapsed and what should have been a long, graceful flight ending in the admiration of all turned into a very short flight ending in a violent meeting with the concrete street.

I don't remember much after that. I definitely don't remember the fire trucks showing up, or the ambulance ride to the hospital.
"Concussion," I recall hearing a voice say.
"Lucky to be alive," said another voice.
"Fucking idiot," a third one pronounced. (OK, that might have actually been me.)

End result: an overnight hospital stay, followed by my first-ever ambulance bill, which came in the mail a few weeks later, causing me to exclaim: "What the hell? I didn't even call that ambulance! I was just laying there in the street, minding my own business, and they came along and just snatched me up! I won't pay it!" (I eventually paid it.)

Oh, and were the neighbors impressed? They must have been, because I didn't hear the end of that for a long, long time.

But the bike came out of it just fine. I rode it to my first follow-up appointment with the doctor who took care of me at the hospital. I recall him not being terribly pleased.

It's only looking back now at what I refer to as my second-worst motorcycle crash that I realize that right there, Murphy and Belle almost lost out on their forever home years before their great grandparents were even born.

Oh, and do I still ride, you ask? Damn straight. Gonna get me another bike before too much longer. Gotta make another ride out to the Pacific Coast or down to New Orleans. You see, I just saw this movie called Easy Rider...

14 comments:

  1. Time it so you're going through Butte MT the end of July so you can stop at Evel Knievel Days. They shut down the whole uptown, build a bunch of ramps and such, and bring in motorcycle stunt guys

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    1. Oh Lord! Don't tempt the man, it doesn't take much.

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  2. That story and concussion does explain quite a bit as to how you are today.

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  3. I worked with Lars Larson who grew up with Evel Knievel in Butte, MT. He would come by the business to see Lars. Funny guy, had some great stories.

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  4. Ya know, I do like Butte, MT...

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  5. Hey Murphy,

    Well the motorcycle mishap might 'splain how you are....on the other hand....You going to look at a Gold Wing....? those seem to be the ride of choice of the "seasoned" crowd

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    1. Nah, ain't old enough for one of them yet. Looking BMW or KTM dual-purpose bike.

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  6. In the '70s, I had some fun on dirt bikes...but, being as they were 80cc (Suzuki trail) and 100cc (Yamaha enduro), I managed to escape without serious repercussions. Last night, oldest son (22) showed me a RM125 he'd bought. "What the he-- are you going to do with it?", the older & wiser me asked.

    Still, I'm not beyond daydreaming about getting a bike myself - someday - right now the Kawi Versys tops my list. Enough bike to clamp on some 'bags and a bivy tent and head out on the road, with enough ground clearance to navigate unpaved trails.

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  7. Hey ML, have you got some AMARG photos from your trip of Ghost Rider, that just got called back to the big leagues? http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-ghost-rider-b-52-rises-from-the-grave-to-ride-aga-1686588702

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    1. I doubt it. They didn't let us get too close to the aircraft in 1000 storage. In fact, they never even let us off the bus to get close to any of the aircraft.

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  8. Hmm. I'm planning on buying a Ural w/sidecar in the near future for some slow, poke along touring. Feel up to some SEUSA riding this summer, I'll haul most of the camp gear?

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  9. Getting back on the horse is always the best option...

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  10. What could possibly go wrong =)

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