Two weeks after picking up my BMW F650GS, I was riding home from my dealership (needed to order a couple things). It was in Feb and the forecast called for light flurries late in the evening. I figured I had plenty of time to get home. I was wrong and so was the forecast. The weather system arrived 3hrs early and it wasn’t just flurries…it was a full out storm.
As I rode the highway, the roads became wet but I wasn’t concerned. At least not until I came to my exit and saw the off ramp was at least 1cm deep with wet snow. Oh crap! Not only was I thinking this but I nearly did too! I wished at this point that my bike had ABS but it didn’t.
I knew well enough to not touch the front brake but every time I applied the slightest rear brake, my rear wheel locked up causing me to fish tail dramatically. Ok…I’m gonna crash I thought to myself. I accepted it. I double downshifted in hopes of using engine braking to slow down. Of course my rear wheel slid out as I varied clutch and throttle inputs, but because my rear wheel was still spinning, I still had vertical stability thanks to the laws of physics and how gyroscopes work. I fish-tailed through the entire ramp Motard style but managed to stay upright and was able to come to a safe stop at the lights.
Sitting at the light, my heart pounding in my chest, I observed the conditions on Victoria Park and it was bad. Cars were skidding through the intersection, drifting into snow banks and once again thought to myself…I’m gonna crash.
I gingerly turned onto Vic Park, and every foot traveled was a challenging, white-knuckle ride. My heart was pounding hard and my eyes were popping out of my head as I watched cars slamming into each other. How the hell was I going to make it home? The snow was coming down so hard and visibility was near-zero. This was a bloody blizzard!!!!
This was getting bad…really bad. I thought of parking the bike and calling for a tow truck but I was nearly home. Just take it easy…control your breathing and don’t bloody panic! I needed to get off this road though before I turned into a speed bump for some incompetent SUV driver. I turned onto a side street and was grateful to be away from the carnage I was witnessing on the main road. I literally lost count of the number of cars I observed crashing into snow banks or each other. I was happy with my choice to get off the main road; well…that was until I actually turned onto the side street and saw that the snow was so much deeper because there was no traffic driving on it. Damn…now I’m sliding sideways at 10km/hr down hill approaching a curve and what do I see? A car attempting to go up the hill towards me but skidded sideways and it was blocking my path. Yup…I’m screwed. No way I can stop. I’m gonna crash.
At the last moment, I saw what I needed…an escape hole around the backside of the car against the left curb. I aimed for it and figured I was going down for sure but at least I would hit the snow bank and not the side of the car.
Screw it…I’m going for it! I recall talking to myself “take it easy..stay smooth…look were you want to go…don’t screw up!” You can imagine my surprise when I rounded the back of the sideways sliding car, my rear wheel grazing the snow bank, which actually straightened me out and I proceeded down the hill without dumping and filling my helmet with snow.
I couldn’t believe it! Only half a kilometer left to get home and although I continued slipping, sliding and drifting…I made it…without crashing.
Was it skill? Was it luck? I would say a good combo of both!
It was one of those times that you either soil yourself in fear or pucker up so tight that you can’t take a dump for two days. Well I didn’t ruin my shorts that day and two days later…I was able to go again.
Made me think though…why with four wheels and ABS did so many cars crash but I didn’t with half the wheels and no ABS?