Monday, October 01, 2007


Mike Kane has a very nice Indian special, built up from various years and models, and decorated with a lot of great period lights and accessories. He attended our Yosemite AMCA ride, and I took a lot of pix of his bike as it is unique and visually compelling.

Mike had an epic spill on Wards Ferry Road, a totally avoidable one as well, but it has a happy ending (or at least not a tragic one!). Mike stopped to assist another rider on the narrow and cliff-clad road - there is certainly no shoulder or guardrail, just a rock wall on one side, and a 150' drop on the other into the canyon below. All riders on our rally were given a detailed 'heads up' on what to expect on the road, which is only 20 miles long, but due to the possibility of going over the side, needs to be ridden with respect.

After helping the other rider, Mike rode off, forgetting to tuck away his side-stand, which is a very stiff item - stiff enough to pogo a 500lb motorcycle towards the edge of a cliff when trying to get around a left turn! Mike did his best to haul the bike to a stop and keep away from the edge of the world, but his front wheel hit the soft dirt verge, and even though he was essentially stopped at this point, the front wheel began to slide down the cliff face. Mike tried his manly best to keep the wheel up, but the rear wheel began to crumble the road edge as well, and soon he was sliding vertically down the dirt cliff face, struggling to keep the bike upright so that it wouldn't crash end-over-end down to the rocks below. It must have looked like he was riding a dirt elevator down the hill!

Somehow the bike caught on a less-steep spot on the hillside, and stopped about 40' vertically down the hill. Mike climbed back up to the road, dirty but unharmed.

It took about an hour for the tow truck to arrive, and after much negotiating, Mike and the driver came up with a plan - 'I can't tell you to get on your bike as I tow it up the hill, but I won't stop you if you do', was the compromise. A cable was lowered from his truck on the road, we removed as many of the fragile items from the bike as we could (horns, lights, one half of his gas tank, speedo, etc), before wrapping a large nylon strap around the forks and steering head. It took some heaving, but we managed to get the bike pointed up the cliff face, and Mike got on it and managed to keep it upright all the way, with lots of yanking from yours truly who was also taking pictures, and keeping out of the likely path of the bike should the strap break! Climbing up and down that cliff six times, hauling tools, bike parts, straps, etc up and down, in leathers on a hot day, was fairly exhausting.

The last pictures really give an idea of how steep was that hill. If Mike had gone over the edge ten feet before or after where he did, it was a sheer rock face for the first 40' down - it doesn't bear imagining. He must have a guardian angel with a sense of humor!


paul said...

Poor Mike has had some bad luck.
He pulled over to help someone in this case.

Josh said...

Thats a very cool story man.

Her Majesty's Thunder said...

Glad it was a happy ending for Mike.