Friday, February 24, 2012

Dauntless Sidecar proves to be my lifesaver...

I was basically side-swiped by a 2007 Toyota Corolla driving woman this morning as I rode Yoshie, my V-Strom DL1000 Motorcycle with Dauntless Sidecar.

I was traveling westbound on a three lane highway known as Arapahoe Road, and had just crossed under the overpass that is the I-25 Super Slab that crossed the Denver Metro Area going North/South.

I saw this silver car exiting the I-25 and turning right to enter Arapahoe Road.  I kept an eye on it as there was nothing between it and the extreme left lane where I was traveling.  Instead of just driving onto the extreme right lane, she proceeded to cross over all three lanes immediately and as I jammed on the horn and started braking, she went right for me.  I swear, I don't think she even looked!

I was trapped by a 4-6 inch high concrete median to my left and could not dodge, still I saw I would not be able to stop in time to allow her in front of me, I started swinging into the concrete median to try and swerve away from here, raised concrete curb be damned.

It was not to be, the right front corner of my sidecar subframe apparently was hit by her left front wheel.  I of course lost all forward momentum at that point for a second or two, I heard metal and plastic crunching noises, remember seeing bits flying in the air as I was thrown forward into the windshield of my motorcycle.

I must have been holding the grips pretty good at this point because once I hit the windshield, I think I bounced back into the saddle.  The rig was now moving forward once it lost contact with the car and I was able to regain control of her and bring her to a shuddering stop by the concrete median, and clear of traffic.

I say it was a shuddering stop because I could not actuate the clutch lever.  Turns out I somehow held onto the control assembly hard enough to twist the thing forward about 180 degrees so the lever wasn't where I was expecting it to be!

I got off the motorcycle, checked for oncoming traffic from behind me and was clear.  The idiot cager had been stopped by the damage inflicted on her car by the sidecar's subframe.  A couple in another car stopped and asked if I was OK, I told him that I thought so and asked them to call the police, which they did.  Whoever you were, good samaritans, my thanks again.

 The Toyota Corolla that hit me, initially came off worse from
the encounter, I thought

That dent on the wheel was where I think it hit the beefy steel tube
that makes up part of the subframe assembly for the sidecar

 What a flimsy bumper on the Corolla, it's really just a damn plastic cover

 Where the van is passing my shadow, is where I estimate the impact occurred.
I am standing on that damn concrete median that separates the
West and Eastbound lanes of Arapahoe Road.
The above is looking west.  As you can see, I drifted for quite
the distance before I regained control.

 A police officer from Greenwood Village showed up in less than 30 minutes 
and got our stories and information.

 I thought initially my damage was limited to a broken wheel fender on the sidecar
and a dent on the subframe tubing plus scratches.  Not too bad, I remember thinking.

 Above it the main impact point on my rig by the Corolla
There's a dent on the tube, probably where her wheel rim hit it.

 The broken stub where there used to be a mount for my phone/GPS.
My jacket must have caught it and broken it off as I was flung forward.

The bracket that used to secure the front of the wheel fender.  
It broke from the fender's fiberglass unsurprisingly, but note the
impact managed to break one of the mounting bolts!

The officer gave me his card with the case # of the accident report he'd be filing, he assured me that he'd be charging the idiot driver with careless driving and told me I was free to go.

I got my helmet back on, checked for traffic and motored towards work as it was closer than home at this point.  Yoshie felt a little funny at first, kind of wiggling a bit underneath me but she soon settled down and I didn't notice anything else bad.  I noticed my throat had started hurting at this point, but only when I swallowed.  "Weird" I thought but figured it would go away.

I kept reliving the impact moment in my mind and counted myself damn lucky at this point.  Figured I'd order another bracket and wheel fender and some touch up paint and Yoshie would be good to go!  Nope.

As I was walking into work, some guy who works there followed me in and he asked me: "Did you know your rear tire is wiggling back and forth when you're moving?".  I stood there and said "No, you mean the tire in the sidecar?".  "No", he said, the one to the rear of the motorcycle.  Damn.

I headed up to work, to call the insurance companies involved, the doctor to make an appointment to check me out and yeah, there was work to be done.  The morning flew by in meetings, my throat continuing to hurt when I swallowed.  Not sure how I managed to hurt it, am thinking perhaps as I was impacting the windshield, my helmeted head must have snapped forward, and I pressed my neck into my chinstrap buckle assembly?

I left work shortly after 2:00PM, thinking to go to the doctor on my relatively undamaged rig to get myself checked out.   I took a closer look at the rig in the parking garage and I was dismayed to find the rear wheel looked liked it was bent, as if the swingarm had been twisted slightly!  I also now saw from the front that the subframe mount hardware on the motorcycle appeared bent towards the right side of the motorcycle!

 Note how the rear tire is off-center now, probably not a good thing.
I am told by Oscar, who followed me to the dealer part way that he could see
it moving sideways by a good two inches as I rolled along.

The front wheel is lined up straight, not the subframe mount 
hardware was bent towards the sidecar.  The vertical
arm, onto which the sidecar is attached by the support arms, 
should be straight up and down!

 The scuff/rubbing marks etched onto the left side subframe mounts
 indicate that the motorcycle was forced by the impact into that concrete
median.  Above is the leading edge of the subframe.

Above is the trailing mount of the left subframe.  Check
out the scoring caused by contacting the curb on the raised median.

 Above is the axle nut and right side tensioner screw.
The screw is supposed to be centered in that rectangular opening, 
pretty much in-line with the hole you can see behind it.
"not quite aligned, is it?"

Same damage on the left side tensioner screw.

So, riding to the doctor's was out.  I elected to slowly ride to the nearby Honda/Suzuki Dealer on Arapahoe Road and have them assess the motorcycle and sidecar for damage.  Who knows, with all that force impacting the sidecar, it surely got transferred onto the motorcycle's frame by the mounting hardware!  I could have hairline cracks in the aluminum frame for all I knew.

I got to the dealer with no issues.  As I rode there, I could feel I was tilted to the left and the rig was not really tracking very straight at times.  Damn.  Got the rig checked in, but the shop won't be able to look at it till this coming Tuesday.  Coincidentally, that's when the idiot cager's insurance adjustor is able to go look at it also.

My loving wife came and picked me up after her work was done (I'd called right after the accident and she knew I was not injured) and we went home after taking off all removable items from the rig.

So, the ruggedness of the Dauntless Sidecar subframe saved my butt today!  Ironic isn't it, I had no issues yesterday in a heavy snowstorm on snow/ice-covered streets but today in bright sunshine and dry roads some careless idiot tries to take me out!

Now I have to wait for Tuesday afternoon for the damage appraisal.  To my eye, my Yoshie may not be repairable but we'll see.  I know that if the sidecar's subframe is bent, am pretty sure it's not fixable without shipping it back to the manufacturer in Enumclaw, WA.  

I know, I know, it's just a motorcycle, and I should consider myself lucky.  I do, I really do.  The motorcycling gods were really looking out for me this morning.

27FEB11: Update:  Rode through the cursed intersection this morning, a bit nervous I'll admit, but no issues.

Here's a googlemaps shot of the intersection in question.  The red line denotes what I remember the stupid cow took as a path to the lane I was occupying.  The black X is the collision point.  That's where I saw bits of plastic from the accident.  I estimate I was just in front of that gray car to the east (left) of the X.


Martha said...

The raised curb also protected you from being pushed into on-coming traffic.

Am relieved beyond words that you are ok. I've invested too much time in training you JUST right, to have to deal with a seriously injured red-leg!

Depending on what the insurance and mechanics say, I think we need to seriously examine whether a Chinese man is meant to ride a Japanese motorcyle? I feel like we should re-visit your relationships with the Russians and their side-car options.


Oh, and my diagnosis is some soft tissue injury to the neck area. Probably from the impact of the helmet to the windshiefl

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Damn. It does sound like there is much to be grateful for, still I get your concern over the bike. I don't know if you are the luckiest guy around, first dodging serious injury slipping on some black ice, avoiding injury when the chain broke on the first tug, and now this...or, unlucky for hitting the black ice, the chain breaking, and now this. Whatever the case, take care of you. It sounds like you may have whipped your neck some. Glad you were up to writing the story. That is a good sign indeed.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Circleblue (Keith),

I'm going with the "I'm very lucky" theory....look how supportive my wife is being after all! Thanks for commenting and the kind words.

Troubadour said...

Wow, glad you're okay Dom and you were fortunate to have the sidecar protecting you. Judging by your shadow in the pictures I am guessing the sun was in the driver's eyes (mirror) as they made their shoulder check (mirror again). I wonder if the curb had not been there you would have had enough room to avoid her.
I going to guess that the insurance company may repair the hack but the bike will be totaled. Sorry.

Steve Williams said...

Glad you are ok and that Martha won't have to train anyone new.

Idiot drivers. Not much you can do save for keep an eye out. Riepe would tell some lie and say he would rocket out of harm's way. But there are times when they box you in.

On the bright side, maybe the idiot can finance a new URAL for you.

Hope you check out ok physically too!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Unknown said...


I'm glad you are Okay. As Martha said, a lot of luck today, the curb to keep you from oncoming traffic and the sidecar to save you from further injury.

I can imagine how hard it was to train you the first time, Martha's got too much time invested in you to have something happen

You are also fortunate to have built-in 24 hr medical advice.

Riding the Wet Coast

WheresMurph said...

Dom,good to hear you're ok.
Sorry 'bout Yoshie.
No words of wisdom from me at this time,I know the same may happen to me next year somewhere,hope not,but shit happens.I think I would prefer to have a wrecked outfit tho then have a wrecked me.Sounds cliched but true.

Take care,


Low Buck Rider said...

Glad you are OK and sorry about Youshi. You came out much better than a gentleman Janet and I saw spread across the street today. Janet has said nothing except to bad he wasn't wearing gear.

Roger said...


BMW HACKER said...

Glad you came out OK!
We just completed a 1500 mile jaunt around CA. After a bit of time on the 405 freeway in LA, I'm glad I don't have a city commute!

Unknown said...

I'm so happy you're alright, Dom. I feel like you just christened that one, too. Sorry. I'm happy you've got a leg, though, instead of a pile of dog food. Lord.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

SonjaM said...

Dom, this could have turned out much worse. I am relieved to hear that the sidecar and the moto gods protected you that day. Please let yourself get looked after just to exclude that you might have had some hidden injuries. It almost sounds like poor Yoshie is toast, and I understand your worries. So sorry, that this happened, I hope the stupid cow gets fined big time.

SheRidesABeemer said...

sorry to read of your accident. But thank you for taking the time to share all the details with us. I think the more we learn about different scenarios the better prepared we can all try to be.
Heal up, and I hope you have a good insurance company.

Barron said...

Sorry to hear about the crash but glad you are ok!!!

Andy & Laura said...

We are so relieved to hear that you are o.k. Bikes can be replaced, the people in our lives can't. Hugs to you all.

redlegsrides said...

Troubadour, your theory has merit,but am pretty sure she didn't really look, probably on the phone and late for work....

Thanks Steve, we'll see how it all turns out in that regard. I see the doctor on Monday...

Bobskoot, yeah, the curb did keep me from the eastbound lanes but if they'd been clear....oh well, no sense in dwelling on it. thanks for the visit.

Murph, good to hear from you....yep, shit happens....but lately...

Low Buck Rider, thanks for the to the guy on the road you and Janet really was too bad.

Raftnn, eloquent. :)

BMWHacker, thanks and yeah, am reconsidering my commute routing ....

Brady....yeah, apparently Suzukis and me weren't meant to to "pile of dog meat", my wife reads this stuff...lets be more reassuring. :)

SonjaM, thanks for writing in as well. I don't know how many points on your license are incurred by being cited for "careless driving"....I hope it's a lot and comes with a huge fine.

Sheridesabeemer (Gail), got a great insurance company but driving this whole thing through the idiot's insurance company....thanks for the comments.

Barron, thanks for the comments and visit.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Laura and Andy!

Allen Madding said...

I am very glad that the ruggedness of the sidecar subframe saved you from serious injury. As I read your encounter, all I could think was if that was me on my Road King, she could have very well killed me.

I am really bummed about the amount of damage she has done to your rig as you have really worked hard and been through a great deal to get a dependable rig like you wanted. That just bites.

Hope your throat heals quickly, and you can get back to enjoying your riding.


Unknown said...

My bad, Dom, I really am glad you're ok. I know you're a safe driver, sorry for the bad taste. I think it's a bit of deflection on my part, but I hope you get back out and keep on tuggin' I know how important it is. What's life without the joys?

Behind Bars

redlegsrides said...

I'm just giving you shit Brady. :)

Oz said...

Wow. I am glad you are OK. I sure hope the driver learns from the accident and is fined a lot. This should remind us all to keep an eye on all those in the cages.

Bluekat said...

Oh man, I'm so glad it wasn't worse! I really want to come down there and beat that corolla driver! (Not that I'm worth much in a fight).

So are the Urals built different, stronger? Just curious. Most of all take care of you! Hate to see anything happen to all of Martha's investment. :)

Take care

FATTKAW said...

WOW you are very lucky. glad to see you live to ride another day but the bike..........
And to Martha, I think he was better off riding Russian. :)

redlegsrides said...

Allen, pretty sure results would have been less good on two wheels.

Motoroz, thanks and must ride aware. I saw it coming at me but options rapidly dwindled in those few nanoseconds....

Bluekat...thanks for volunteering to come down and beat the cager....I do appreciate the sentiment but you can't fix stupid and you can't beat sense into it either! Someday, she'll try the same but it'll be a semi truck she tries it on. As to your question re Urals....they're just as tough but have nice features like reverse and 2WD.

Jon Risor, thanks for the visit and the comments....

RichardM said...

Glad to hear that you survived an encounter with stupidity. I'm impressed with the strength of the subframes. How fast was the Corolla going at impact?

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Richard...I am unsure how fast the stupid cow was going....I was trying to avoid and going about 40 mph. We'll see what the police report says.

Learning to Golf said...

Somehow I'm thinking texting or a cell phone was in use about the same time said cage was entering your space.

Best news is you're not seriously injured. 2nd best is maybe you will get enough insurance money to get a new Russian rig with 2 wheel drive and reverse if they have that option!!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dom:

Old friend... I am thrilled to learn that you walked away from this one with limited injuries and undiminished man pride. You did everything but stand on the wounded sidecar rig and roar.

What did the moronic cager have to say? Let me guess, "I never saw you?"

Judging from one or two personal experiences, I think your cool sidecar rig is probably toast. It appears to me as if a lot of important metal connections are bent beyond reliable repair.

Now far be it from me to imply that insurance companies are bottom-feeding scummers, but you should have had the bike picked up by a flatbed and had a buddy run you to the emergency room. You don't know what damage you've done to your throat. Suppose it turns out you can't talk for two weeks and have to communicate by tapping musical spoons or honking a Harpo Marx horn?

In the meantime... I'm curious. How old was the other driver? Did she say why she came over three lanes? Was she on the phone?

What kind of horn do you on that sidecar rig? What about auxiliary lights? Not that any of this stuff would have made a difference to a blind cager.

Once again, congratulations on walking away.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...

AZ Harley Dude, thanks for the comment. I suspect as well she was on the phone and oblivious to me but my memory is of a large silver colored object rapidly becoming larger....I guess if we end up in court, we can subpoena her phone records.

redlegsrides said...

Hello Jack and thanks for your commentary. I too believe things are bent past the point of reliability-inspiring repair but we'll see what the adjustor and the dealership say on Tuesday.

The driver appeared to be a middle-aged woman, who only stopped talking on the phone for us to exchange insurance information.

I didn't talk to her at all, fearing I'd loose control and call her the kind of names she ought to have branded on her forehead....

She was obviously trying to make a left at the next intersection and so crossed over the three lanes immediately upon exiting the I-25 highway. Not one lane at a time, mind you, but all at once.

I have a Stebel 139db horn on the rig and it was blowing steadily once I realized her intentions. No perceivable reaction of course.

I travel with the high beam headlights on in daytime (which it was at this time) and my rig sports a rather bright forward pointing H3 light on its outboard front quarter. You are right though, there's stories of police cruisers with all their lights on being hit by unwary drivers.

I could have used a Claymore Mine attached to the sidecar in this case....that would have gotten her attention but I fear the police might think it a bit overmuch.

Chris said...

Dom, glad you are ok and that yoshie protected you. I hope you can get out and ride soon.

Martha, the chinese make a ural knock-off a CJ!

redlegsrides said...

Chris, you're recommending a chinese knock-off of the russian rpoc....some friend you are!

Alan P. LaRue said...

I see that fairly often... enter the freeway and move all the way to the left. It's usually older people, and I suspect they're taking the AARP advice I saw in a magazine 20+ years ago that says the extreme right and left lanes are the safest, because you have someplace to go if somebody cuts you off. Horrible advice (slow car in the fastest lane!), and I haven't seen it sense, but the legacy of the bad advice remains.

Glad it wasn't worse; hope you're feeling 100% soon.

redlegsrides said...

Just an update for you all.

Doctor gave me and my throat a clean bill of health, he suspects it's just the bug that's running around.

I also took a snap of googlemaps showing the intersection where the accident happened. Annotated accordingly and added it to the posting.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Alan for your comment, and truly, that is terrible advice to be giving out.

Gary France said...

Sorry, but I am coming to this late. I am of course very pleased to hear that you are okay. Yep, a motorcycle is just a motorcycle (did I really just type that?) which can be fixed or replaced, but a broken Red Leg will probably been harder to repair. By the way, I loved Martha’s comment about the training, and the cross-nation combination of rider and machine! I am however disappointed she missed the opportunity to say your neck problems may have had something to do with the bolts needing to be tightened....

Seriously though, the “stupid cow” (love that) needs to be prosecuted for her actions. Talking on a cell phone or not, the red line you drew on your map image speaks volumes. Even, if she wasn’t using her phone and even if she didn’t see you, there is no way she should have been pulling a stunt like that.

From a quick look at later posts, it seems you have a new bike.... going to read about that next......

Bucky said...

Islands in the middle of the highway serve no purpose I can see. They don't really prevent vehicles from crossing over, but do prevent motorists, emergency vehicles, and the occasional motorcycle rider to seek refuge there.

See what our town, in its wisdom, did: