Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Embarrassing episode - dropping a motorcycle in public

All motorcyclists have done it at least once.  Some have done it many times.  We have all dropped a motorcycle at some point.

You thought the side stand was done when you leaned the bike over.  It kept going.  Or, you simply lost balance.  Yes, we have all done it.

Picture courtesy of Larry, aka GalacticGS on www.advrider.com

But have you dropped your motorcycle in REALLY embarrassing circumstances?   I have and this is my story....

I was going to give a presentation to a few hundred people about the London 2012 Olympics.  It was a formal affair in a large central London hotel.   Even though I was wearing a business suit that day, we were experiencing a hot summer, so I decided to ride my Harley-Davidson Road King to the event.   It was only 20 or so miles, so I was looking forward to the ride.

I knew the hotel had its own car park, so I wouldn't need to leave my pride and joy on the street.

I arrived at the hotel in good time and rode down its long ramp to enter the underground parking garage.  I stopped at the booth to collect a ticket, but the attendant put head out of the little window, and the conversation went something like this....

Attendant: "Sorry mate, we don't allow motorcycles to park in here."

Me: "What?  Why?"

Attendant: "Some people bring their car in here, leave it a long time and come back weeks later on a small motorcycle, get a new ticket and take their car out cheaply using that new ticket.  They then ride in the small gap at the end of the barrier to get the motorcycle out."

Me: "I am not going to do that."  Full of self-importance, I added "I am giving an important presentation here at the hotel and I need to park my motorcycle in here."

Attendant: "Sorry, the answer is no."

My only other option would be to park my bike on the street and I didn't want to do that.  By now, a car was waiting on the ramp behind me.

Me: (Getting a bit annoyed now) "So you are discriminating against me, because of what someone else has done?"

Attendant: "Like I said, you are not parking that motorcycle in here."

I was as determined as him. "Please contact the manager of the hotel and ask him to come here."

Attendant: "No, because it won't do any good."

Me: “I am not going anywhere.”  Now there are a few cars behind me waiting to get into the car park.”  One beeps his horn.

Attendant: “You had better move your bike.”

Me: “No.  Besides, I cannot as there is a barrier in front of me and cars behind me.  I suggest you go get the manager.”

Attendant: “No, move your bike.”

Me: "No!"

There was no way was I going to back down and somehow turn my bike around in the small space and squeeze passed the cars on the ramp.  I climbed off my bike and lent against the wall, staring at the attendant.   I was furious and the cars drivers were not happy either.   I shrugged my shoulders at them as if to say “what can I do?”

After a couple of minutes of this stand-off, more cars have joined the queue, so I locked my bike, set the alarm and leaving it blocking the ramp, I set off to find the manager of the hotel.  After a short discussion, he agreed with me and telephoned the attendant to tell him so.  I walk back to the car park, unlock and start the bike, the barrier is raised and with the attendant and car drivers glaring at me, I rode into the car park.

It then happens.  Ten feet past the booth, turning sharply to follow the ramp, I drop the bike onto its right side.  Fuck!

Full of blood-pumping adrenaline, I use all my strength and pick the bike up, only for it to get away from me and it fell over onto its left side.  Fuck!  Fuck!

Now sweating buckets in the heat of the confined car park, I tried in vain to lift my heavy Harley-Davidson again but i didn't have the strength.   I was now delaying the car drivers even longer and some had begun to blast their horns. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

I tried again, but there was no way I could lift the bike.

Embarrassingly, I had to ask one of those drivers to help me.   I felt stupid.  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me so I was out of the gaze of the car drivers.  Reluctantly, one did help me to lift it, and I quickly parked my motorcycle and got out of that car park as fast as I could.

I can assure you, getting flustered, angry, sweaty and being in a bad mood is not a good thing just before delivering an important speech.  It went okay, but I have never been back to that hotel.

43 comments:

Arizona Harley Dude said...

I hope it OK that I find the humor in this story Gary.

Arkansas Patti said...

Sorry but that is a bit funny. After such a grand stand for your rights, then to have your bike rebel against you in full sight of those you had just bested. Groan.
I had mine pin me against my riding mower once as I tried to secure it in the barn from an approaching hurricane. It really makes you feel so helpless and I am pretty sure I dropped as many F bombs as you did.

Gary France said...

AHD - That is okay, as when I look back on it now, I too find it funny.

Gary France said...

Patti - That is nice of you to try to direct at least some of the responsibility towards the bike, but I have to admit, there was only one person to blame! Being pinned by your bike against a mower as a hurricane approached sounds like quite a story. You should write about that one! I'd love to hear more.

Canajun said...

Great story. You're right, we've all done it but you managed to hit the embarrassment factor out of the park (if you'll forgive the baseball metaphor).

Thomas Osburn said...

Well, that tops any of my embarrassing bike situations. I would love to have a video clip of all of that :) I hope the bike is OK. In Dallas, TX we have some parking garages that will not let bikes park, not sure the reason.

Trobairitz said...

I am glad you can find the humor in it now, I would have been mortified. If you are going to cock it up, you may as well cock it up to the best of your ability.

I thought it was bad enough to have Max take a nap on me while the IMBC moto-bloggers were behind me in eastern Oregon last year. That doesn't seem so bad now......thanks for making me feel better.

Funny I never used to believe riders when they told me it was a matter of when, not if, I dropped a bike. Oh I believe them now.

Gary France said...

Canajun – You are forgiven :-) Yep, we have all been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Gary France said...

Oz – The bike was fine, it was just my pride that was dented at the time. I don’t understand garages that don’t let bikes park, for that is just silly. I go all out and object whenever I find one. I think that is called being bloody-minded.

Gary France said...

Trobairitz – The way I feel about the incident now is way different to how I felt as it was happening. Now it is just funny. The way I look at it, if you cannot look back and laugh at yourself in an incident like this, there is something wrong. I like the way you put it about Max “taking a nap” that is good. I will use that in the future!

bob skoot said...

Gary:

This post was really funny. I mean, funny now but not then. It was like I was there beside you and watching. I still can't imagine you dropping your bike TWICE. I keep thinking about all those scrap marks and dents as I know how particular you are with your bikes. Lucky thing it wasn't one of your custom bikes.

You can be sure that if I were there, I would have it documented with photos

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Dar said...

Gary

The best part of the story was your determination to park your bike. I hate bike naroclepsy, my bike has taken a nap and it was pretty embarrassing because it was out in front of my house and my ankle was wedged underneath and I couldn't get it off and I was madder than a hornet caught in a t-shirt. Some dude was walking by and staring at me and finally asked "Do ya need some help?" All I could think was DUH, I am actually sitting here for the fun of seeing how much weight my ankle can take with a motorcycle on it and dripping gas everywhere. UGH it was mortifying my neighbours were watching.

I hope you don't have too many more bike narcolepsy moments.

Charlie6 said...

The chances of dropping one's motorcycle is directly proportional to the size of the audience which will witness the event.

One good thing about sidecar rigs, very hard to drop one....unless you're in the process of disconnecting the sidecar, then all bets are off!

Dom

RichardM said...

No experiences that bad though last Summer, I was turning around in the entrance to a trailer park and went to put my foot down and there just happened to be a large pothole there. Needless to say, my balance isn't that good. An elderly resident came by on her mobility scooter and asked if I needed any help....

Nikos said...

Now I know why underground bike parking is not allowed!

WooleyBugger said...

That is just the sort of thing I refer to as "The Wooley Curse" and it rears it's head at the most inopportune moments. Back in the early 80's on the way home from riding I had to stop for fuel. Peanut tank of course and my closest friend stopped beside me at the pumps. Sitting on the bike taking off my helmet and gloves while talking to friend on his Lowrider I got off to go prepay for the fuel in the parking lot full of Lake departures. Having the coolness bad assed thing going on ( Those days on a Harley aren't like these days on a Harley). I suddenly hear my friend calling my name with panic in his voice, I turn and there he is sitting on his bike leaned way, way over holding on to my handle bar. He's a big fellow but still I can see his legs trembling as he strains to keep both bikes from hitting the pavement. I had got off the bike and just walked away without thinking to put the kickstand down. I asked him what happened and he said "You just stepped off the bike and started walking away." All those people seeing us just made me want to suck my head down inside my Jacket like a turtle.

VStar Lady said...

I have to say, I'm happy when it goes (if it's gotta go down) in company now. It out weighs me 4 to 1 and I know, as embarrassing as it is I ain't getting it back up on my own, nor am I getting it back up with the aid of a little old lady who stops to help (God bless her soul.) But you've out done even me - twice in one go, side to side - now that is worth a few f bombs.

BeemerGirl said...

Oh yeah, that isn't fun. Not if, but always when...and always at the worst possible time. Hey, at least you got in the garage. :)

SonjaM said...

Gary, yep I have the T-Shirt, too, although your story beats any of my droppings which were either kickstand related or gravel induced. Of course I had the bonus of being able to pull the girl card, hence, asking for help wasn't even necessary, and thankfully there were always kind people around at the ready to help.

Trobairitz said...

Bikes get tired - they like to nap. I don't know why but it is what we call in around here.

Here's hoping your bikes don't get tired anytime soon.

Gary France said...

Bob – If it had been one of my custom bikes I’d have been apoplectic. If you had been there taking pictures, you would have seen how red my face was!

Gary France said...

Dar – I didn’t understand at first, until I looked up the meaning of narcolepsy! These incidents are very bad at the time, but often amusing later. I hope your ankle was less injured than your pride.

Gary France said...

Charlie6 / Dom – Great comment that made me laugh. Both parts!

Gary France said...

Richard – LOL. That is very funny! I hope you declined her offer.

Gary France said...

Nikos – You are probably right.

Gary France said...

Wooley – A great tale. Sometimes our brains seem to forget the simplest things and your story is a case in point. You have put your kickstand down thousands of times, so what on earth made you forget this time? Oh, I get it, trying to look cool huh? “…like a turtle.” I love it!

Gary France said...

VStar Lady – As they say “If you gotta go, you gotta go.” It is embarrassing that we cannot lift our bikes on our own, but that is really silly. We are not superhuman, but I have seen small women lift heavy bikes. Its all about the method and I have no doubt you could lift yours if someone showed you how. That is, without all of your packing of stuff for your touring!

Gary France said...

BeemerGirl – There is never a good time, unless it is on your own drive with nobody to see, then you can pretend it didn’t really happen.

Gary France said...

Sonja – Other bikers will always come to your aid, even to the point of running to help. On our recent trip over the Alps, one of our group (I won’t mention his name for fear of embarrassing him) dropped his bike by forgetting to put his kickstand down. I was some way away and watched as four guys ran over and helped Ian (oops) pick his bike up. It couldn’t have been six or seven seconds from going over to being upright again.

Gary France said...

Trobairitz – I will put energy drinks in their tanks to keep them awake!

Nick D said...

And I thought I'd seen Ian post recently that he'd never dropped a bike.... :)

Gary France said...

Nick - He did say that. He lied. :-)

Lucky said...

I dropped my bike while getting off of it in a parking garage. Darn thing shoved me into a neighboring car, and I felt the sheet metal bend under me. It was a miracle I didn't dent the car.

Then it was in such an awkward spot I couldn't lift it. Luckily, someone walked by and was able to help me.

I didn't even think of taking a photo, I was entirely preoccupied with getting my bike off the ground again. :)

Tina Walker said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Thank you.

I've had a few incidents since I got my Kawasaki, being a new rider, of dropping her. It fills me with shame each time, as if I were being careless or just ignorant. I have struggled with feelings of being inferior to other riders, or undeserving of riding.

Other riders never shame me! They all encourage me. I do a fine job of shaming and berating myself. But it's so nice to hear that someone else gets as mad at themselves as I do.

My first ride on my Kawi I dropped her in front of my apartment building, injured my leg and the maintenance men saw the whole thing, rushing out to help me while Highway had to turn around and come back for me.

Ugh!

Thanks again,

Sash
www.sashmouth.com

Brian said...

dropped mine making a full lock 2 mph U turn on a one lane up-hill along Puget sound to get back to the ferry...

... riding two up :(

Damn thing made a noise when it hit the ground like a Las Vegas casino demolition.

I laid there on the ground with the bike on top of me thinking; WHAT THE HELL did you just do ya monkey?!!!

when "herself" gathered herself up from getting flung across the asphalt and asked me "What Happened?"...

... I don't believe telling her; "I forgot you were on the back and misjudged the balance I guess!" was the RIGHT answer. :)

Jon said...

Happened to me (at least) twice... First time out on first big bike (Triumph Tiger 1050) the first time after passing test a few years sgo. Up to the front of a queue at a temporary set of lights feeling cool as. Road camber quite pronounced! Left foot down into a void... man those bikes are heavy once they go past the tipping point. A motorist was very kind and helped me pick the fallen Tiger up but how embarrassing and stupid and expensive - especially as the bike was booked in the next week to have the engine guards fitted. Second time was in a gravelly car park in Austria (or was it Germany) but I don't think anyone noticed

Rex J. Covington said...

Great Story Gary! Fantastic Post & Thanks For Sharing!

Scootard said...

Gary-
I can relate. I actually felt the sweat start to run as you described it. After riding for forty years, I finally decided to get a license, breezed through the written test, went through the MST with flying colors, right up to the hard stop where I locked up the front wheel and skinned my knee and the plastic in a slow speed get off in front of all the newbies. D'Oh!!!!

Gary France said...

Lucky – I can understand about not taking a photo, for that would be the last thing on my mind too, if I had dropped my bike.

Tina – We all do it. We look around at other riders and they look strong and confident on their bikes. They look as if they would never drop their bikes, but you know what? I don’t know one biker who hasn’t dropped a bike. There is nothing to be ashamed of, for at some point, we all do it.

Brian – That is a great story of dropping a bike – if you are going to do it, drop it in style, in front of lots of people. I liked the bit about the Las Vegas casino demolition!

Jon – Those cambers can be tricky. I remember once having to stop on a steep hairpin bend and I put my foot down for balance and it just kept going – the road surface was about two feet below where it normally is. I share your pain! As cool as, to idiot, in a split-second! I think it was Germany and we noticed Jon, we noticed….

Rex – You are very welcome.

Scootard – Doh indeed. You feel a fool at the time, but happily laugh at it later. Life is good!

Anonymous said...

Your blog has some funny and embarrassing "drops"! I had just purchased my brand new, 2003, 100 year anniversary edition Electra-Glide Classic!! I was (and still am) thrilled! I was so excited that I decided to take my girl friend to the 2003 Anniversary Party in Milwaukee. After one of the evening parties, we were ready to book it. I was pulling out of the main parking lots (the one with 5000 bikes!). The problem was that we were pulling out soooo slow that when I made the turn to get out, the 1250 lbs (850 bike plus two trim riders in good shape) got out of control... it happened in slow motion. At first, you think your strength is going to hold it up - and push it upright with your leg. My able partner tried to help too, but she lost it too. Luckily, we got out of the way... I was able to push it back up with my hand on the front brake. Cheers and Merry Christmas to all !!

Anonymous said...

Dropped my bike tonight (first season with my very own) - gotta say was feeling really shitty about it. Not a scratch on 'er, my legs and head hurt, but I'm ok. Like the other poster, I stepped in a pothole :( Anyways, read your story and I felt so much better, sorry, but I really did...less alone. Thanks for sharing your story!!

Anonymous said...

Dropped my Ninja the other day stopping at a pedestrian crossing and fell on my ass, you should of seen the looks I got from people crossing the road, I felt and looked like a moron, Bike would not start after the drop so I had to push the peace of shit to the local service station which was approx 1.5 Kms away. Awesome afternoon.... Not

Gary France said...

Anon - Sharing stories of dropping your motorcycle is cathartic. It make you feel better having shared your own story.