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Easter: Wi-Fi Knievel ‘Rolls Tide’

April 1st, 2016 · Tags:Satire · Sports

 

Ping Thunderbird sized

 

I consider myself to be fairly visually oriented, which probably explains why I take so many photographs and also stare at people, totally unaware.  It goes back to my roots.  … Watching the spinning shadow of the windmill on the farm … tracking dusty whirlwinds across the wheat fields … waving at the crop dusters that flew low over our barn on their way to the next “bombing” assignment.  Sports.  Sunsets.  Sunrises …

During the recent Easter holiday, another interesting visual from my youth came to mind — from the long school bus rides to and from school when I was a kid … over old Route 66 and the newer Interstate 40, through miles and miles of farmland, and along some pretty interesting ranch roads in the northern part of Oldham County.  Usually, the visuals from the bus were pretty similar … For miles and miles, I would watch the shadow of the school bus, running along side the yellow coach which was wrapped in a cloud of dust.  When the sun was about to go down, or just coming up, the low angle of the light source altered the shadow of the bus, distorting it.  Sometimes the bus shadow would be elongated and looked big and other times the shadow would appear compressed like a rounded off turtle shell with wheels, all depending on the sun’s angle.

But this Easter I was picturing another scene from the days on the school bus.  It was a memory of one sunny afternoon on the way home from school, the official begging of the Easter break … Spring Break.  All the young kids on the bus had attended Easter parties that day at school and had hunted eggs, and we were all carrying baskets home, filled with real, hard-boiled, dyed eggs and also chocolate rabbits and sugary hard candy easter eggs.  Of course we all treasured the chocolate and candy eggs, but could not care less about the hard-boiled eggs.  Although we were never permitted to throw trash from the windows, we figured the bio-degradable colored eggs were “a gray area.”  Acceptable school bus projectiles, or ASBPs.  Someone got the idea to throw and egg out the window, and we all joined in.  We all yelled “Cool!” when one kid tossed an egg out  to the road and it hit the soft blow dirt on the side of the road.  Instead of shattering on impact, it rolled … very fast … it rolled a little more and then split in half.  Then it continued rolling, and the cooked egg white broke away flying everywhere, and from the cloud of egg white, the hard boiled yoke was revealed as it popped out and continued to roll … a little grayish, yellow ball rolling down the road, out of sight.  We of course threw out every egg, but never duplicated that fine visual.

Ha … that rolling egg came to mind this Easter when I hit the side of the road and rolled.

Against all better judgement, I made the 20-hour motorcycle ride back to Fort Worth from Miami on Easter weekend … and at least 13 of those hours were in the pouring rain.  It was so wet.  It was cold … and because I needed to make good time, it was not the most cautious decision.

In my defense, I was asked to be in the office in Fort Worth on Monday morning after Easter, to complete paperwork for perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I was told I would be flying to Brazil, ASAP, and that my paperwork for the required visa needed to be handled on Monday — signed, sealed, delivered.

Brazil and South America are bucket list items for me, so, rather than wait a couple of days for the storm to bypass Florida, I mounted up on the aptly named Triumph Thunderbird and rode on.  I figured this was worth the risk.

I was about as focused as I have ever been on the bike, eyes pealed … lights on bright.  Watching every car as if they were on a mission to take me out.  I knew it was very dangerous, especially with so many cars on the road — cars with drivers who apparently cared little about what happens to a motorcyclist in a rain storm.  Can you believe many automobile drivers are not smart enough to turn on their lights in a gray, overcast, thunderstorm? (Ha … who am I calling stupid? … I was the idiot on the bike … I digress …).

Surely the people who cut in front of me, or cut me off, or splashed me, or whatever did not do so intentionally or maliciously.  Not that intent or lack of malice make it any more easy to accept when they nearly kill you.  Anyway … this one black pickup truck stood out from all the other drivers, because he actually pulled over for me to pass him.  You know  — the way you are supposed to do so, to be courteous.  Everyone else did their best to delay me … in the rain.  As I passed the black truck, I noticed he had a big maroon letter “A” on the back window.  “Roll Tide!,” I thought, as I appreciated the kind, safe gesture.  As I pulled along side of him, I wondered if Alabama has a hand signal like so many colleges … you know like “Hook ‘Em Horns” for Texas … or a tomahawk chop for Florida State … or “Guns Up” for my Red Raiders.  I wondered how they “sign ‘Roll Tide’”???  Any who … as I passed, I waved and mouthed “Roll Tide” to the friendly driver.

I continued down the highway …

So I was being pretty attentive to the road and careful … Understandably, when there was a let up in the rain, I would hit the throttle and try to make up for lost time.   Well … Just after Pensacola, as I entered Alabama, the rain subsided, and I was moving at a pretty good pace.  I was smiling about the welcoming sign that proclaimed “Sweet Home Alabama.” Of course, that’s when I started watching the gas gauge, seeing the tank was getting low.  Another cloudburst was just ahead and it started to sprinkle, so I decided to pull over and fill up.  Just as I made the decision, I saw an exit and took it.  OOOOPS! It was not a straight, off-ramp exit and I realized that too late in the game.  It was a circle exit, and a tight one at that.  Yes … after hours and hours of caution, I had lost my focus, just for a second.  That’s all it took.  One slip up.  I started braking, and the bike was not slowing enough to make the tight turn.  It was pretty obvious to me that I was about to go down.  Would it be on the hard, slick, paved, steep slanted circle of an exit?  In a split second, I made a decision to try to brake all the way to the end of the pavement straight ahead of me and hope that I could keep my balance and eventually stop in the soft grass on the side of the highway.  The grass was much to soft, and I think the brakes/ABS system may have failed as well … As soon as I reached the grass, the front tire sunk and the bike slid sideways and we went down … hard.  I think the decision to shoot over to the grassy knoll was a good one.  There were cars coming behind me, but I was out of their way.

I can’t say that I wasn’t hurt, but my pride hurt most of all … How did I lose my focus?  How embarrassing.  I popped back up on my feet quickly, and reached to turn the key off on the bike … still running, laying over on its side in the mud.  The Thunderbird was not happy.

As soon as I was up, two cars stopped to check on me and to render aid.  One was a white sedan, with a young couple who looked like they were headed to Easter Sunday services.  The second Good Samaritan was .. yes … “Mr. Roll Tide” … the black pickup with its courteous driver.  They made sure I was okay, and helped me upright the bike.  It weighs more than 800 pounds, by the way.  Everything looked in order, and I had no blood flowing outside my perimeter … thanks to the leather.

In that split second as I was going down, I thought of Tony Romo and his various injuries.  I felt certain that hitting the ground on my side at about 30 m.p.h. must feel just like getting blindsided by a 350-pound defensive end … Ha … and when I hit the soggy, mushy grass … splashing … I thought, “This must be what it feels like to be body slammed in a mud wrestling match.”  It was not pretty.

I scraped the mud off of one side of my body, and inspected the bike.  No damage!  Just a lot of mud and grass wedged into the bottom of the frame and the exhaust pipes.  I fired it up and tested it … rode to the gas station — very carefully … and eventually got back on the road, letting the rain wash the mud from my leathers and helmet and glasses.  I rode another eight hours, with my wounded pride and whatever. Ha … shock is a good thing …

So … like I said, I should never have been on the road that day, but I thought the risk was worth it for at least a month in South America.  Especially since it was Easter, I had began my morning with a long prayer of thanks for the opportunity ahead of me … and thanks for grace … thanks for the salvation of a sinner such as myself … and yes, I asked for the blessing of safety on the road.  I have to think my Easter prayer was heard.  This little mishap could have been so much worse!

In summary … I wondered if my hitting the ground, and becoming separated from the bike and continuing to roll a little had looked a little like that tiny Easter egg rolling down the road from so many years before.  I am visual like that:)

I thought of Roll Tide … Ha … I had just “rolled tide” … or “rolled hide” … or whatever.  An Alabama Easter memory for the rest of my days.

Obviously, I was increasingly cautious the rest of the ride.  Just after I crossed the Mississippi River into Louisiana, the clouds began to fade.  I was bummed that the rain and pain had taken away from the awesomeness of riding a motorcycle over “The Mighty Mississip.” There was no more lightning and eventually the sky cleared off.  By the time I hit East Texas, there was some sun.  It felt about as good as anything I can remember.  And by the time I hit Fort Worth about 8 p.m. that night, I was almost dried out.

And about that upcoming, awesome work assignment in Brazil?  I was in the office Monday morning completing the paperwork — with some pretty sore ribs, but I got her done, on time.  Wednesday … I found out the assignment was cancelled.  Oh well my visa is ready for the next opportunity … and the blog is all about adventure, right?

Know what I sayin?