Scott's 2001 VFR 800, No frills and pretty much stock


Beth's 98 VFR 800, OEM blue bodywork and stripped rims

The Dreaded First Accident

  In two years and 40,000 miles of riding, I had yet to have an accident. Apparently, all good things must come to an end. I had planned a trip to the mountains of Arkansas surrounding Hot Springs for a group of about ten people for Memorial Day weekend 2001. Beth and I could not get off until Friday evening. Because it is just over a seven hour drive from Huntsville, Tx., to Hot Springs, Ak., we decided to put the bikes on a trailer and drive the truck. We get into Hot Springs around 1:30 in the morning and do not get to bed until shortly after 2:00am.

  The first ride of the day is scheduled to start at 9:00am. We get our wakeup call, get ready and head down to the parking lot to unload the bikes. I am not feeling very good and have some slight nausea. I am not generally a morning person and this kind of feeling is not that unusual for me when I get up very early (say before 10:00am hehe). Everyone else meets us in the parking lot and before long we are ready to head out. We stop to get gas on the way out of town. At this point I am feeling worse than usual. But the weather is superb and I have been planning this trip for so long that now the time has come, I can't bear the thought of missing it.

  I lead the group out of town and into the mountains. The roads are great with some fantastic curves. I seem to be having trouble concentrating and holding my lines as steady as I normally would. But I have not had any problems other than just feeling like I am weaving slightly through the corners.

  About eighty miles into the trip, we stop for gas (we have a short range Yamaha VMax in the group hehe), refreshments and a stretch. I have been yawning nonstop for the last eighty miles! One of the group and I are talking about how great the roads are and yet dangerous at the same time because they can deceptively suck you in and get you in trouble before you know it. We mount back up and head out. My physical condition has not improved.

  Soon after heading North near Magazine Mountain, I get into a downhill entry to a left hand curve that sweeps back up hill and makes about a 170 degree cutback. The entry into the curve looks predictable and sucks me right in about 10 mph faster than I should be going. As I try to look through the turn, I am having trouble keeping my eyes up the road to see where I need to go. As a result I don't start turning and leaning soon enough. Then the curve decreases in radius and I am going too fast! I start chanting in my head, "Look, Lean, Believe!!", over and over. The left side of the bike starts to drag. First the peg feeler, then the center stand, then the kickstand and finally the bottom of the left fairing.

  At this point, I get a very serene and calm feeling. I realize that I am not going to make the turn. The bike behind me (Brian) has a communicator and we can talk to each other. I state that I am going down but I don't think he hears me. I see the edge of the pavement, look up the road, try to lean some more, and then I slip off the edge. I am fortunate that the edge did not lead to a cliff, rock face or trees. Instead it was a gently sloping ditch full of rocks and gravel.

  Right before leaving the edge of the pavement, I stand the bike up in an attempt to ride it out rather than low siding. At this point I am pretty much through the curve and traveling straight again, right down the very edge of the pavement. Unfortunately, the pavement edge drops off and has a car tire rut running right with the edge. Guess where my tires wind up? As I try to control the bike, it starts tank slapping violently back and forth. I stand up on the pegs and try to let it settle down under me. This works for a short distance, but as I try to steer the bike onto the road, it high sides right out from under me and flops onto it's right side and starts sliding. I land on the left side of the bike, still hanging on and shouting many bad words at the top of my lungs. This Brian hears.

  The bike slides a short way, hits a large rock embedded in the ground, and then spins around 180 degrees so I am facing the riders coming up behind me. The crazy thing about this is that during this whole mess, not once am I in fear of bodily injury or pain. The thought running clear and loud through my head is, "DAMN! this is gonna be expensive!" And then, as quickly as it started, it is all over. The dust cloud around me is drifting on the breeze. I turn my head to look back into the turn... just in time to see Brian, on his Ducati ST-2, low side right into the ditch behind me in a swirling cloud of dust spitting gravel onto the road as it slides. DAMN!

  Brian leaps up instantly and runs towards me as I am sitting next to my bike, casually reclined with my back against the side of the ditch and both arms spread wide. "ARE YOU OKAY!!??" I look at him quizzically, thinking to myself, "Me?! What about you!?" Then I remember that Beth, my wife, is trailing the pack and will be coming around the corner any second. If she sees me laying here in the ditch and bikes on their sides, she's likely to flip out! I stand up and turn around right as she comes through the turn. Fortunately, she was far enough back and around a bend that she did not hear what was happening on the communicators. Here is the scene looking back the direction we just came from.

  After everyone gets stopped and we ascertain that no grievous bodily harm has been done, we relax on the roadside and collect our thoughts. We get both bikes righted to inspect the damage. The Duc looks pretty bad at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the damage is purely cosmetic. He has the whole left side of the bike scratched and the mirror is missing. Other than that, he is good to go. He gets the bike fired up and rides it a bit right there in front of us. His leathers are scuffed pretty good and his helmet took a good hit, but he is fine. He gets off with some small bruises and a very sore thumb.

  My bike is not so fortunate. All of it's damage is on the right side. The right clip on is completely bent down. The right signal punched through the front fairing, other than that, the front fairing is not even scratched! The hand brake lever is bent pretty good and the Throttlemeister is toast. The right fairing has scratches going every possible direction. The foot brake pedal has been bent 180 degrees back onto itself. The crankcase cover is cracked and ground through right below the oil fill hole... and leaking. Game over for me. The rest of the bike did not receive even a little scratch. The wheels, rims, forks, and other body work are untouched. I have a small bruise on my right arm below the shoulder and one above the left knee. Other than that, I did not even get any dirt on me except for where I sat down in the ditch after getting off the bike. Amazing. Silent prayers of thanks are offered to the One watching over us.

  Beth and I decide to try to get my bike back down the road a few miles to a convenience store we had just passed. Brian, decides to go with us. But a few hundred yards down the road, after seeing that his bike is running and handling fine, he decides to turn around and continue the ride with everyone else. The others finish the remaining 300 miles of the route. My bike fires up and I can ride it but it is pumping oil out of the crankcase. I go reallll slow back to the store. By the time we get there, the bottom right side of the bike and the rear tire have oil everywhere. When I explain the situation to the store owner, he graciously allows me to put the bike in his garage next to the store so it will be locked up where no one can mess with it. A very nice fellow.

  After securing the bike, Beth and I two up on her SV650S the hundred miles back to the hotel in Hot Springs to get the truck and trailer. For the first few miles I am a bit nervous, especially since I have my wife on the back of the bike. I'm sure she is pretty nervous as well. But the ride back is uneventful and we have a great time. The little SV ran great even two up with luggage. We make it to the hotel, get the truck and trailer and spend the two hours getting back to the store. Once there, we load the VFR, thank the owner, and start the two hour ride back to the hotel again. By the time we get back to the hotel, it is only a few minutes later when the rest of the group starts to trickle into the parking lot after a fantastic day of riding.

  It might sound crazy. But even after wrecking my bike, I still had a great time the rest of the weekend. The company was great, I did not have to go to the hospital, and the weather continued to be perfect. I did the ride the following day on the SV650S and Beth elected to go shopping along Bath House Row in Hot Springs.

  Lessons learned? You bet. Next time, start the ride later and do the shorter and less demanding ride the first day. Pay attention to the warning signs. I was feeling bad, having trouble concentrating, and not on my game. I should have called it quits and gone back to the hotel until I was feeling better. But being the person that organized the ride, I felt like I had to go along. Now I know better. My friend Brian now knows all about the pitfalls of Target Fixation. Good lessons at a minimal cost (unless you count dollars hehe).

  The aftermath? The estimate for the Duc, $7500!! Yikes! The estimate for my VFR, just a hair over $3000. I told them to fix the foot pedal and the crankcase cover and to leave the rest for me. We put the OEM Blue bodywork on the bike and are selling the remaining red bodywork. Beth got the 98 VFR 800. Due to time restraints for an upcoming major trip, I bought a new 2001 VFR 800. We've since sold the SV650S.

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