July 19, 2009
It was a typical Wednesday as I left work just after 6 at WMS. My Birthday was coming up and I was wondering what Sheila had arranged for it, as we make a big deal out of birthdays in our house. I was traveling one of my usual routes home. I have about 6 routes that I take on a random basis. I think it’s safer to ride this way because you don’t get complacent at intersections and other traffic hazards.
I was about a mile away from my office in heavy traffic; I had just turned southbound on Kedzie, just above the Belmont intersection. Traffic in the northbound lane was bumper-to-bumper. A silver car was peeking its nose out, trying to turn out from School Street and into my lane. I chopped the throttle and covered my brake. Just like that it darted out in front of me. I hit the brakes but it was too late. There was no place to go, so I added more rear brake and went sideways, laying the bike down and separating from it cleanly.I was wondering if the guy was even going to stop. He did. For a minute I was amazed that he was going to be a good samaritan. It ended when he began yelling just as was getting up off the ground and assessing the damage. “How fast were you going?” “YOU WERE SPEEDING”! Do you have insurance?
I’m doing a “Street Luge” on my spine protector head first down the street and he wants to know what? Somebody else finally called the cops. He was on the phone to his wife at the time. An ambulance pulled up with a tow truck 10 minutes after this, along with a Sargeant that said he’d call for a car to take the report. I was treated for a skinned knee and the Ambulance drivers thanked me for wearing my gear and motored off. The other driver asked me if I was OK or had any broken bones at this point — about 20 minutes after it happened. I was still a little adrenaline-overloaded by the accident, but somehow I managed to keep my cool. He then introduced the argument that I had rear-ended him. I explained to him that “the bike” had rear-ended him after he had pulled out in front of me and I had fallen off. If I had rear ended him, there would have been much more damage from where my body and flown into his car.
The police finally pulled up. I had been talking to the towing company about getting my bike to Rose Farm Classics in Woodstock as soon as possible for repairs. The other driver ran up to the Police car and started yelling that I had rear ended him. At this point the adrenaline is wearing off and I’m getting PISSED. I “calmly” interceded that the bike had indeed hit his rear end after he had pulled left in front of me from school street, where we were located. After answering “yes” to the officer when she asked if this was true, he blurted out that I was speeding and must have ran the stop sign that was about 200 feet above the intersection.
The officer asked if he had seen that. She said “if you saw that, why did you pull in front of him?”. He said “I didn’t see that”. I said, “I’m not surprised, because I actually did stop there. I had to, because I was turning left from that intersection at the three-way stop, and nobody would let me in”. The police officer then separated us and took our statements. The other officer, driving the vehicle, wanted to cite the driver. The officer taking the report didn’t. She said “we weren’t here, we didn’t see it. The driver said he was rear-ended after he pulled out, and the rider said he was cut off”. The policeman driving the car was a rider, but his partner wasn’t budging. Nobody was cited.
The towing company at this point was waiting for my wife, who they had called. My cell phone was dead. The scene was pretty much cleaned up, my bike was sitting upright on it’s kickstand, the center stand was bent from the slide. Damage wasn’t “too” bad. all the bodywork on the left side was scraped up and the mirrors were broken off. Other than that, it was ok. I figured it had some bux in front of it, but I’d be back on it in a few weeks. Sheila arrived. I filled out the paperwork for the Chicago Towing Association with my State Farm info, and they said they’d get it to Woodstock tomorrow, as it was just after 7 at this point.
The whole incident lasted less than an hour. I had no damage to my clothing or gear other than a few scrapes across the back of my jacket. My helmet had never hit the ground. My double-kneed Dickies that I usually wear in the city had about 2 broken threads in the knee that I found after washing them. Total damage to me was two silver-dollar-sized “rug burns” where my jeans, knees and the street met. My Dainese hard spine protector completely insulated my back from the pavement. My Held GP1 gloves were completely unmarked, still the finest damned gloves I’ve ever had. I immediately went home and wrote down the entire incident as I remembered it fresh, and sent it to my insurance agent This was important. It saved my butt.
I was headed southbound on Kedzie after turning left from Roscoe at a 3-way stop about 200 yards to the North. Traffic was heavy in both lanes, but bumper-to-bumper on the northbound side of Kedzie. The vehicle that I was involved with had sqeezed between the cars in the northbound lane and was attempting to make a left hand turn headed south in my direction. I saw him between lanes, ready to pull out, but couldn’t see his face so I didn’t know if he could see me. As I got closer, he accelerated hard to pull in the southbound lane. I tried to anticipate and brake hard, but I had nowhere to go. I laid the bike down — it slid about 20-30 feet and hit his rear bumper — I slid on my back to a stop about 10 feet away, still in the southbound lane. My left leg is a little sore and I have a lightly skinned knee. I declined any ambulance transport as my gear protected me fully.
He immediately stopped, accused me of speeding and asked me if I had insurance. He did NOT call the police — a bystander did but got the fire department. Ambulance arrived, dressed my knee and took off. Police arrived approximately 30 minutes later, although a two to others including a sergeant stopped briefly to call for a patrol car to file a report. No citations were issued because, according to the officer, “they weren’t there at the time”.
I am sure that the driver of the vehicle will claim that I was speeding and I most certainly was not. Traffic was heavy and I ride this route every day. Evidence of my speed and light fall can be had by examining my gear. There was no damage to my leather gloves, boots or even my helmet. My jeans were not even ripped where my knee was scuffed. Only light scuffing to my leather jacket where I slid on my back protector. Bike damage consists of significant scuffing to the left side, broken mirrors, bent center stand and possibly some other damage that wasn’t readily visible to me.
Bottom line — the car made a left turn in front of me and cut me off.
Bike was towed to Rose Farm Classics, the Moto Guzzi in Woodstock, Il (1250 N Rose Farm Road, Woodstock, IL 60098 — 818-337-6686 — owner is Jim Barron).
(I also put all claim number information, and information about the other driver, but I deleted this to protect this jackass’ privacy.)
Didn’t know about Chicago Towing Companies, but NOW I do!
Here’s a tip if you are living in Chicago and you ride a Motorcycle. Have this printed into labels and sewn into your motorcycle gear:
Billy & The Boy Motorcycle Towing in Tinley Park, IL 60477 – (773) 239-5971
I didn’t know about these guys before, but I wish I did. You see, the bike didn’t show up at Rose Farm the next day. I called the number on the receipt and got an answering machine. I called Jim at Rose Farm and he told me that he didn’t like the sound of this. Other people I talked to just shook their heads and silently prayed for me. Someone sent me “Lincoln Park Pirates” by Steve Goodman:
The streetlamps are on in Chicago tonight
And lovers a’gazin’ at stars
The stores are all closin’, and Daley is dozin’
And the fat man is counting the cars
And there’s more cars than places to put ‘em, he said
But I’ve got room for them all
So ’round ‘em up boys, ’cause I want some more toys
In the lot by the grocery store …
I realize that I AM SCREWED. I call the insurance company to warn them. I apologize for not knowing about towing companies in Chicago. LA and Phoenix just don’t do this stuff so I was unprepared. My State Farm agent, Luis Garcia and his people were just awesome, said that they knew what to do and not worry about it. I have to call out my Insurance Company as being totally stand-up with this whole incident. They were awesome, helpful, empathetic and in the end, fast about getting money back to me. Good people and I am glad they cover me.
Day Two. I’ve called about 30 times, finally found their lot where my bike IS NOT located, with nobody attending. I call Jim. Jim calls a fellow Guzzisti in the Police Department. I get a call 15 minutes later and the bike is on it’s way to Woodstock at about 3pm in light rain. Jim said he’d wait and call me when the bike gets here.
Jim calls back and says “things are not good”. He took pictures. It seems that the driver and his rider, let’s call them “Darrell and Darrel”, had let the bike fall over in the flat bed on the way out there. Obviously didn’t know how to secure a bike on a flat bed. To keep it from “moving around”, they had taken the main cable on the flat bed, wove it through the front wheel and over the frame while it was laying down, and, wait for it…
Used the winch to tighten it down. This trashed the front wheel, bent a rotor and bent the frame.
Towing bill to the insurance company was $825 for 43 miles. I called State Farm immediately. Jim had been smart enough to take pictures of the bike while it was still on the truck and cinched down. The idiot that pulled out in front of my took pictures of the bike with his cell phone, so everyone had before and after shots. State Farm is going after both. Total damage to the bike: more than $14K. Total loss.
What a waste. It was such a wonderful, wonderful bike that had really grown on me. 1200 miles and two months. Real craftsmanship and quality, just discarded after an accident. I know it’s insured and will be replaced, but it just bothers me that you “lose the souls” of people that put their energies into building a particular bike, their hands having touched it, wrenches, concentration, etc. All gone.
State Farm cut me a check for my 2 month old bike with 1200 miles on it. Even paid the tax, title etc. I showed them the receipt, they took a mileage deduction, and we settled. I took the two weeks over the above events to re-evaluate how I rode and how I was going to ride for the next few years. I expected to make a few long trips and the 1200 was going to be the locomotive that hauled me down the interstate to those destinations. It was naive of me to think this was going to happen — My job is going to keep me pretty close, and there are plenty of rides within 500 miles in this topographically challenged region. 99% of my riding is going to be in Chicago or within 100 miles…
I just don’t need a 1200 cc bike for this. I’m not getting into third gear unless I get on the freeways that are jammed during my commute times. The 1200 is unfortunately too much bike for the city commute. I decide to get something smaller, lighter, nimbler, but still get a Guzzi.
I take delivery of my new V7 Classic at Rose Farm this morning. Going to RockerBox this afternoon.