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Our intrepid member Laura has a story to tell about riding gear

Hi, For the last 4 weeks, I've been in south central Colorado (where the temps are in the 50's at night), building with Habitat for Humanity. The physical work is good for me, the goal is worthy, and I've met many kind people. I've attached the story of why I'm suddenly in the market for a new motorcycle.

July 11, 2009

Laura: "Da Judge"

They shot my horse out from under me – and why I’ll never again ride in just blue jeans

I parked my RV at Vallecito Lake north Bayfield, Co. (on Hwy 160 between Pagosa Springs and Durango in south central Colorado) and worked three weeks on a build with Habitat for Humanity. The day before we were to leave, I rode my FJR and Steve rode the Yamaha XT 250, heading south to the Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico. It was hot, so I took off my mesh riding pants and headed home in blue jeans (mistake #1). Around 7 pm (mistake #2), we were riding north on Hwy 501 – a rural road that gains about 2,000 feet in altitude as it heads towards Vallecito Lake and our RV Park. It was the 4th of July, and the traffic was heavy with folks going to see the fireworks over the lake. As I rounded a curve, a VERY large deer bounded down the embankment to my left in front of an on-coming pickup. I hit the brakes; the deer did a shuffle step, and then hit me. It was over so fast I don’t really know what happened. Apparently the deer got tangled in the front end of the bike, we fell, and he kicked free. The only direct “deer damage” is where he kicked above the front fender and below the headlights, making toast of a lot of expensive plastic. The bike fell, skidded on the left side, grinding the frame slider to a nub and all but erasing the saddlebag. After the left side was transformed into scoured plastic, the bike flipped over and ground down the right saddlebag and other miscellaneous plastic and metallic parts.

And the deer? I don’t know. I was busy sliding down the highway. Steve stopped in the middle of the highway to keep the traffic off my downed butt ‘til I crawled to the edge of the road. He said the deer was caught in the bike, kicked free, stood up, fell down, and then skittered down the steep embankment to the right.

After a brief assessment, I decided I could ride the FJR the 5+ miles back to my RV. Most of that ride was over gravel, and as I rode with my left leg as stiff as Chester’s, I swore I’d never ride again with just blue jeans.

Progressive Insurance totaled my old friend – too much expensive scoured plastic and probable damage to the forks. So, the Gypsy Rocket, bruised and battered, was unceremoniously hauled off for salvage. I feel like my favorite horse was shot out from under me – one with whom I’ve shared many an adventure, one who taught me many lessons of freedom, self-confidence, reaching, risking. I’d rather have skipped this entire learning opportunity, but the Gypsy Rocket is gone and the ample check from the insurance company is in my pocket.

Unlike the FJR, I didn’t get totaled. I have some nasty road rash on my left knee – thus the belated New Year’s Resolution to Never ride again in only blue jeans. If you’ve never experience road rash – it burns, and burns, and burns. A week later, it’s still burning. It’s much hotter than those riding pants could ever be. (Plus it oozes, sticks to the sheets, and hurts – the riding pants do none of that.) There’s more road rash on my left shoulder – I don’t know if the pad in my Joe Rocket jacket turned on impact, or if the impact itself caused the injury. I’m sporting miscellaneous bruises and a knot on my wrist from my bangle bracelets. So – I’m one lucky rider, now without a horse.

From Bayfield, we moved over to Pagosa Springs, Co. for another two-week build with Habitat. On the 19th, I’ll head up toward Denver to test ride the BMW F650 GS. I’m also looking at the Suzuki Vstrom 650 and the Kawasaki KLR 650. I’m vertically challenged, and many of these bikes require a stepladder. But I’ll probably buy something that is more comfortable with dirt and gravel than my FJR was.

Lessons –

  • (1) when you ride your bike “where the deer and the antelope play”, don’t ride during their play time (at dusk or dawn)

  • (2) don’t wear only blue jeans, no matter how hot it gets

  • (3) bangle bracelets gouge and leave bone bruises;

  • (4) given the chance, get right back on your favorite horse.

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