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The Story of Jim

Summer of 1973, Albert Lea, MN.  A high school friend of mine tries to teach me how to ride and shift his 350 Honda.  Total disaster (one down and two up? or is it one up and two down?)  Almost spill the bike and he ends the lesson.  Due to lack of funds and fear of shifting I never ride a motorcycle in my youth.

Fast forward about 30 years to Brooklyn Park, MN.  Wife is out of town at bridal shower and I have nothing to do for the weekend.  Find out that Midwest Motorcycle rents out 50 c.c. Ventos with auto shift.  Love at first ride...planned four hour ride turns to 7. 

I buy a 50 c.c. Vento, soon is not fast enough.  Get my license (see story below) buy a Kymco People 150, fast enough for a year, then not fast enough.  Buy a People 250 c.c.and now currently happy (though Bob at Scooterville and I would be overjoyed if my wife approves purchase of an Xciting 500 this spring. Bob's working on the numbers).  I live, eat and breath scooters during riding season.  The annual Twin Cities scooter rally is heaven packed into three days.

The story of Jim getting his license.   I rent a 125 c.c. German scooter that Midwest Motorcycle provides almost exclusively for taking your test.  I wait in line behind a 20 something on a big ass Harley hog and ahead of a 20 something on his Yamaha crotch rocket.  The kid on the Harley knocks down half the cones and rides off without even hearing his score.  I proceed to circle the cones at what the instructor says "has to be the slowest speed I've ever seen."  I think I get my license simply because he sees my age and figures that I'm a lot less dangerous than the kid on the Harley.

Jim's Accident

In July, 2005 I was happily riding my People 250.  I had just exited off of southbound 94 using the Broadway Ave. exit.  The exit has two lanes that allow left hand turns, and I was waiting in the right lane of the two lanes.

I commenced my left hand turn when the light turned green and swung as far right as I could to turn into the right hand lane heading eastbound.  Normally, drivers waiting in the left most of the left hand turn lane turn directly into the left lane heading eastbound.

I never saw the guy who rear ended me.  Witnesses could only confirm that a white van that had been waiting in the left hand left turn lane swung wide right and rear ended me.  The bike hit the curb and I discovered I could fly short distances over my handlebars.   After bouncing a couple of times and sliding ten feet (thank god for helmets with face shields) I was staring at the sky in total shock.  The bike was a total loss with a bent front fork and frame.

The cops put me into an ambulance and sent my bike to the Minneapolis impound lot.  Thankfully I got away with only a stiff left arm and some road rash.

Trying to get the bike out of the impound lot the next day was an adventure.  The lot doesn't differentiate between vehicles towed there for violations vs. those brought in for accidents.  I had to pay $200 plus to get in with my pickup;  I then sat there staring at a bent up 250 pound plus bike, trying to figure out how to get it into the truck bed (even if I had a ramp the front wheel wouldn't roll).  Finally gave two tow truck drivers $20 each to heave ho the bike into the truck.  Drove the bike to Scooterville and both Bob and State Farm agreed it was a total loss.

Kudos to State Farm for a quick claims check and to Bob for holding onto a new People 250 for me so I could get back on the horse.

They ARE all trying to kill us.....

Jim's Near-Miss

We all have our stories of "near misses" with idiot auto drivers....here's mine.  Last summer I was waiting at a stoplight to make a left hand turn.  A minivan was waiting in the oncoming lane, also signaling a left hand turn, with the "person" (I don't want to single out and stereotype a particular gender, but you can guess) chatting oblivously on their cell phone.

The light turns green, I begin my left hand turn, and at the same time the minivan turns off their left turn signal and starts coming straight at me.  Only the speed and nimble handling of the People 250 kept me from becoming grease paint on the street.  My final glimpse of the driver showed they were still chatting happily on the cell phone.   I truly believe the driver never saw me even though I was right in front of them.

Thankfully my "near misses" have been far and few between, but the majority of them have involved drivers distracted by their cell phones.  Studies have shown that even the "hands free" models provide a significant amount of distraction.

If it was up to me, I would ban all cell phone use in moving vehicles;  if you want to yak, pull over and stop...maybe it's just me being old and paranoid...they ARE all out to get us....;-)

 

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Last modified: August 22, 2013
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