Probably because I wanted to block it from memory. There were many things wrong with this ride.
Getting out of Laguna Seca was no problem. And I actually love the route they send the motorcycles. You get a great tour of the now defunct artillery range that surrounds the track. Laguna Seca was part of Fort Ord. The road out is long and winding, a little gravelly so Sean kept nailing me with rocks that shot out of the tread of his rear tire and ricocheted off my helmet and jacket like bullets. This only added to the artillery range experience. But it really is a nice ride and you’re usually in the midst of hundreds of motos just cruising out to the highway. It’s all low shrubs, a couple out buildings falling into disrepair, warning signs to keep out for fear of unexploded ordinance or alien autopsies being performed. Last year we rode into the races this way and out the front gate. This year the reverse.
As we got onto the highway and down the road just a mile or so, the first bad, awful, stomach sinking thing. We were entering this long, slow curve, the whole distance of which you can see, and up ahead we saw a bunch of bikes pulled over and a car or two. There was debris in the road. At the same time I can hear something ticking from Sean’s bike. He was looking back at me to see if I could see what was happening. I was thinking it was just a rock stuck in the tire treads slapping against his hugger, but I was also getting that sinking feeling as we were getting closer to the mess in the road. Something was wrong. And my “something is wrong” feeling got translated to Sean’s tire so then I started thinking that we were going to find a massive nail and that our journey home was about to get really ugly.
We finally reached what we’re seeing is a wreck and Sean pulled off behind all the other bikes taking the opportunity to find out what was happening with his tire. I pulled off behind him, but Rob, being in the lead, failed to see this and went through the scene, directed by one of the stopped bikers. I pulled up right next to Sean and could see the piece of gravel stuck to his tire merely with tar. I leaned down and wiped it off and that was all that was wrong there. We pulled back onto the road and the devastation became pretty clear when we started to ride through the accident. We were avoiding bits of fairing and bike and actually a biker splayed very unnaturally across the road, her legs at wrong angles. There was a field on one side of the road and not really any shoulder. Another rider was face down on that side of the road, his torso on the narrow shoulder and his legs down the small hill into the field. Another rider, not involved in the accident, was down next to this guy’s helmet, talking to him, telling him not to move etc. With everything else running through my head it was then that I realized that this must have happened moments ago. There were no police or fire or paramedics even on the scene yet. In total, there were three bikes strewn across the highway, all kinds of parts and four people. I only got a good look at the two I mentioned. That was enough, and I was also trying to navigate through this mess. I know as we were passing it, I wasn’t thinking that anyone was seriously injured. I mean, in retrospect and with the information that Sean found about the accident when we got home, yeah, the one girl on the road did not look good. But when we were there I was just thinking, “Uhg, what a wreck. People are stopped and helping. Everything should be fine.” Now I wonder should we have stopped too? Not that I have any talents that would have helped the situation, but don’t you always wonder that?
Rob had pulled off on the other side of the accident and looked like he had his phone out and was about to text us when we pulled in behind him. We got going again. We did eventually get all the way back to the front gate where we hit the traffic coming out from that side. Little snippets of conversation through the fat padding of our helmets and the rumble of the exhausts.
“Looked like four bikes down,” Rob said.
“What?” I said.
“Looked like four bikes involved,” he said again.
“Yeah,” I said.
It is very easy to get contemplative on a motorcycle. Even when you’re sitting right next to a friend, the noise and helmets really make communication tough, so not talking to your friends is socially acceptable in that situation. And if you aren’t talking, you’re thinking. And we were all thinking about what we just saw. I know I was.
The sun was warm, we were sitting on our rumbling bikes waiting for the CHP officer to wave our line of vehicles through the intersection, the smell of grass from the sides of the road and every few seconds a nose full of exhaust when the wind would change. This and the adrenaline from the races wearing off, it made me sleepy, dreamy even. Things looked purple in the afternoon light and then an emergency vehicle would scream by. I thought about the people folded across the road, pieces of metal and plastic… Then they got us moving again.
The ride toward the coast and the hotel got foggier and foggier. By the time we got back I was pretty wiped. We looked at the photos I took on Rob’s iPad and he said he was probably going to go back to San Francisco that night. If someone was going, I was going too. Sean was talking about staying another night, which I probably would have if Rob hadn’t said that. So we all decided to leave. Rob went over to his uncle’s house to collect the rest of his stuff and Sean and I passed the eff out at the hotel. Luckily my annoying text message alert is just that. Sean heard it, I was gone. I think he said he had to shake me awake.
Right away, on Highway 1, there was massive traffic. This is where being on a moto is glorious. Well, actually is sucked until Rob finally got the hint that we wanted to lane split to get the hell out of there. It was pretty dark by this time, but not full night. The fog above was keeping it cold and darker than it should have been. We took 1 to 156 to 101 battling traffic pretty much the whole way. The cool thing, being that it was mostly moto-riders-in-cars kind of traffic, they would pull over to make the lane splitting easier. I was trying to wave thanks to everyone who did. I love them. I really do.
At some point on 156 I think, the traffic thinned out and sped up. I was pretty much thinking that we didn’t need to lane split anymore. Rob and Sean, not so much. I kept up with them until we got on 101 and I felt comfortable that I knew where I was going, but I was done weaving between speeding cars. It was also right about when we hit 101, somewhere way below Gilroy, that I realized my ass was killing me. And not just killing me, but oh sweet jesus imma die if I don’t get off this em effing moto soon kind of pain. I was standing on the footpegs every few minutes, stetching one leg out in front of me, then the other… This helped for a couple minutes until the pain crept back up my hammies. It was also around here that I noticed the edge of the fog. Beautiful, dark, dark blue, clear sky in front of me and black sky behind. It was actually amazing, especially when I got a little farther inland and the fattest full moon was creeping up behind me. That made me a little more comfortable. I’m a big moon lover. It’s nice when it’s full and following you along, keeping its eye on you.
It’s then that I started to tick off the cities… “Oh man, get me to Gilroy. Oh, okay, there’s Gilroy exits. Okay, get me to San Jose… Jees, where the hell is San Jose? Seriously? Oh, okay, San Jose exits. Now gimme some Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto… Wait, I’m still in San Jose? I haven’t even reached the airport? Oh what the hell? How big is San Jose? Oh thank god, Great America!” I literally kept that monologue running through my head the whole way up the peninsula. It could have been worse. I could have had “Oh Sherry” by Steve Perry stuck in my head. Not that I don’t like that song, but I only know so many lyrics. And if that’s the case, they just keep getting repeated and repeated, “You should ah been gone, knowing how I made you feel. You should ah been gone, after all it was a steal?” What does he sing there? Was a steal? That can’t be it… and then I go back to singing, “Oh Sherry, our love, holds on, holds on, oh sherry. Oh Sherry, etc., etc.”
You have no idea how awesome it was to peel my legs off the seat and hobble into my little apartment. Oh man, I never loved home as much.
I thought I should post the link Sean sent me after we got home concerning the accident. Click here.