Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Ride isn't over until the kickstand is down

(or, Watch Captain Sullenberger do a facepalm....)

Alan is in my office, waiting as I put on my BatSuit (i.e., my motorcycle gear). We are heading home after attending the latest SCA populace meeting. As the last step, I make sure my cell phone is in my motorcycle tail bag. He jokingly asks why I don't keep it on me so he can call me while I'm on the bike. I grin and reply that I can't use the phone during a ride. I tell him I don't even think I can use the phone with my full-face helmet on.

He brought his car, so he leaves first from the parking lot. It takes me a while to get the tail bag situated on the bike, start it up and let it warm up, and then I follow.

It takes about 20 minutes to get from Brown Hall to the house. I cruise up the driveway, make my turnaround in front of the shop, then pull to my parking space at the end of the house. I park the bike there because it needs to be plugged into a battery tender every night (motorcycle batteries don't like cold weather very much).

I stop, turn off the engine, and put the kickstand down... or so I thought.

As I swing my right leg up and over the tail bag to get off the bike, I realize something is not quite right. I have just enough time to think the classic expletive ("SH*T!!"), then I realize what is happening: The bike is falling -- and towards me.

I try to catch the bike, to keep it from falling to the ground. Not a great plan, considering that the bike weighs 300-plus pounds, and I weigh 135....

We live in a mobile home, so there is a small set of wooden steps leading up to the utility room door at the end of the house. The fall concludes with me sitting on the steps, the bike resting atop me.

Whuh. Okay, let's see. Here I am, sitting on the steps, a motorcycle in my lap. Now what? I try pushing the bike upright. No go. I don't have the leverage in my seated position. Can I get out? No. My legs are trapped between the lowest step and the left-side muffler of the bike. Okay, I need help.

Fortunately, I can reach the tail bag bungieed to the pillion seat. I unzip it and start rooting through it to find my cell phone. Belatedly I notice that I still have my gloves on, which I why I can't find the phone. Take my glove off and find the phone. Call Alan. Who is about 25 feet from me, inside the house.

He answers with a note of surprise in his voice. "Help. Stuck!" I say. I still have my full-face helmet on, and I'm holding the phone as close as the opened visor will allow me to get it. "I'm at the end of the house. The bike fell, and I'm stuck between it and the steps, I can't get it off of me, come help!"

(I ask him later if I sounded panicked and he says no. I was completely calm -- so calm that he wasn't sure if needed help until I specifically asked for it.)

He comes out of the house, looks at the tableau of his wife sitting calmly on the utility room steps, a motorcycle leaning against her. He takes a second to figure out the best place to grab the bike, then starts it moving back upright. I help, and I am finally freed. My first thought is "Is the bike okay?" He wants to know if I'm okay. Yes. I think so. Nothing broken. Nothing overtly painful.

I make sure the bike's kickstand is *firmly* down, plug the bike into the battery tender, then go in the house for the night.

--------------------

This morning, I'm sore, and I'm developing nice big bruises on the back of my left thigh where it encountered the step edges and down my left calf where it was pinched between the bike and the porch. My left shoulder hurts, probably from trying to keep the bike from falling.

But it could have been a lot worse. If the steps hadn't been there to abbreviate the fall, I might not have been able to reach the tail bag. If I hadn't had my armored overpants on, I might have gotten my shins burned by the hot muffler. And since it fell towards me, I padded the bike's fall, preventing damage to the left-side fairing and muffler. It'll get a closer look-over today when I go home. (I drove the truck in to work today.)

Alan and I laughed about it last night at bedtime. As Alan reminded me: The Ride isn't over until the kickstand is down. Since it wasn't fully down when I got off the bike, technically, I did need the cell phone during the ride. And yes, it turns out that I can use a cell phone with my full-face helmet on.

As we laughed, we riffed on ways we could post this on any of the Cheezburger Network sites:

Failblog.org Kickstand Deployment: FAIL

I Has a Hotdog Me to bike: You iz NOT lapdog!

Engrish Funny Ground-rod superior position important!

Sheesh. A week ago, Captain Sullenberger makes a disabled Airbus walk on water in NYC, while I can't even put down a bloody kickstand....

Tag this little adventure: Self-Inflicted Stupidity (SIS).