I see this lady riding home every afternoon on her Harley which told me she must be a seasoned rider. It's been about 6 years since I started working in town. She always has a vest with her club branding on the back, full helmet, and gloves. The one thing I did notice about her was she likes to weave in and out of traffic on the way to the freeway. It always worried me to see her doing that. When I used to ride to and from work, I tried to stay in one lane as much as possible. Preferably an outside lane where I only have to watch one side, front, and behind me. The lane may be slower than the rest but when the road is full of cars, the odds are stacked against you when you're on a bike.
As I drove along Ala Moana Boulevard I heard her bike. She was behind me. She changed lanes to the right of me and continued cruising on her way. I watched her ride and missed being on a bike. I missed feeling the sun on my skin and wind against my skin and the freedom and ability to unwind your mind of the stresses at work as you ride home in the Hawaiian Sunshine.
As we approached Alakea Street, the traffic in the right lane slowed down as usual (people making right turns onto Alakea). We were all slowing down because there was a Fire truck coming down the next street (Bishop). I don't think she heard it. She changed lanes quickly in front of me and then proceeded to change lanes again to the farthest left lane. I cringed. She was making these changes quick (for those who ride, it's those changes where you have to jerk your bike out of the way versus a smooth lane change). Her bike was close to the van in front of me and she just cleared it. In the meantime, the fire truck is slowly making its way into the intersection (the one she is attempting to cross at that same moment).
As she made that last lane change I think she realized what was going on and tried to come to an abrupt stop. There was a square piece of tile/wood/carboard/sheetrock (I couldn't tell exactly) that was under her rear tire. Road debris, abrupt stop, intersection, fire truck = motorcyclists worst nightmare.
In that instant, her bike skidded to the left, she fell off, and rolled on the road with her hands up in the natural defensive position. Her bike continued sliding into the intersection until it came to a stop dead center of the fire trucks bumper. I yelled in the van, "oh my god! no!" as I watched her roll like a log hitting her elbows on the black top at least 4 or 5 times. It stopped my heart. I was sitting in the middle lane. Beside me to the left, a big dump truck. I wanted to jump out of the van to help her but knew I would be no good in heels and a dress trying to help her lift that harley up off the ground. My van was in the middle lane and all I would be doing was creating more traffic. I was shaking in my seat. That could've been me.
She got up and immediately tried to shake it off. She tried to pick up her bike and couldn't. Her arms near her elbows were bleeding down towards her hands. The fire man pulled around the bike and said something to as she was coming up off the ground. The large man in the dump truck beside me immediately jumped out and helped her get her bike up on the stand. She looked okay but I know her body was full of adrenaline and probably embarrassment. I know when I dropped my bike in an intersection I was more embarrassed than anything else. I couldn't lift my own bike up on this hill.
She looked over her motorcycle. She was shaken and was trying to get her bearings. She tried to start her bike up and because it was still in gear, it leaped forward and didn't start. Our light turned green and we slowly drove past her. I felt so bad. There they stood in the middle of the left lane during rush hour traffic. Now the fire truck pulled over and was not responding to its original call. I hope she's ok. Thank God she had a full helmet and gloves on. If she had a leather jacket on, she may have gone unscathed.
All of this unfolded in less than 2 minutes. We sat there watching all of this until the light turned green. Accidents happen. As a bike rider, I know the risks and the consequences of being on two wheels. I've had a few near misses and each time I counted my blessings and thanked God for protecting me from injury. She was lucky. Had someone been speeding or that fire truck been going any faster, the situation could have been much worse.
Seeing that made me change my mind about wanting another Harley in the future. But just for a split second. There's no feeling like being on two wheels. Riding a Harley is what helped keep my mind at ease. After a long craptastic day at work (when I get them), getting on my bike and riding home erased the drama and stress out of my mind as I took in my surroundings in my one hour commute home. Being on a bike forces you to stop thinking about anything else and focus on the ride. By the time I got home, I was happy, relaxed, and got my daily dose of Vitamin D.
One day, I will get another Harley and enjoy the ride again (in full gear). Ride safe my fellow bikers and be careful out there!