Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Minden, Nebraska and Skippy's accident 8Aug - 15Aug 2014

In all the places of the world to have a crash with a bike, what could be a better place then to have it in front of a machine shop with ALL kinds of tools?!

We are VERY THANKFUL to Bob & Peggy who took us into their home, gave us a private room (bigger then in some hotels we have been!), borrowed us their car, guided us to the emergency clinic, took care of girls, provided us some food, let us use their internet and phone and cheered us up!

Let's go back to what happened.

It was Friday morning the 8th of August. We rode along some of the super-straight asphalt roads along Pony Express and Oregon trail when I thought it would be a good idea to ride for a while on gravel roads and save a few kilometers on the asphalt. The sun was shining, it was warm, the sky was blue with only a few clouds – in short a good day to ride. The gravel roads were wide, it looked fine and I rode it with almost 100kmh (60mph). It was fun. Then there was the one spot where I noted that the bike was swimming on the gravel - a cool feeling of drifting with the sidecar.

By the next stop sign I waited for Skippy and since she did not come I went back to check on her. As many times before - so I thought - most likely she would ride by me full speed just after I made a U-turn and tell me later that she only fixed her gloves or something like that. Well, not this time. This time I saw the bike almost in the ditch, Skippy standing besides it and crying, one sidecase laying in the middle of the street, the topcase some few meters forward, the other sidecase missing. Shattered windscreen all over the places, blinker here, other parts there and her Barbie mascot beheaded, as the head was laying a few meters away from the topcase.


I checked quickly on Skippy that she does not bleed anywhere and then I remembered to take a few pictures before moving the stuff aside, that no other fast truck would hit it and damage even more. 

Stuff all over the road - luckily there was little traffic right now.
Side case landed a few meters away from the bike in the ditch.

A few seconds later Bob – who lived in the next house – came with his ATV to look what is going on. He was instantly very helpful, went back to his home to get a car so we could transport Skippy into the cool house. Then he came back with his pick-up and we loaded all the sidecases and loose parts we could find onto it. Luckily the bike started and I could ride it slowly into the shed. Then we came back and I rode my bike back with the girls to the shed as well.

There Skippy was sitting on the couch, shaking and full of adrenalin. After a short discussion, Bob and Peggy offered us to use their car so I could drive Skippy to the emergency clinic. It was of course safer than to have Skippy sitting behind me on my bike. Bob had to go to Kearney anyway, so he drove ahead with his car and we followed. We went first to the health clinic but they instantly told us to go to the ER opposite side of the street. Bob was always with us and with Skippy when I managed the formalities at the front desk.

At the ER we had less formalities to take care off before Skippy got called in and hooked-up. Bob was relieved to see that we are now in good hands and he was able to do his own businesses in town. The doctor came – he was a very humorous and funny guy (told me several times to continue the trip alone :D ). Skippy got CT scanned and shortly after the doctor came to tell they didn't find anything alarming, except a tiny spot which they could not explain. Skippy made it to the next round – MRI. Also nothing bad found here just a tiny tumor (a friendly one) – great relief! (Maybe that explains her behavior sometimes??? Ouch - Skippy don't hit me!). She got some happy makers and looked occasionally that she was in trance :D

It was now around 18:00, I had a few chips from the snack machine, but other than that we hadn't had any food since breakfast and we were both starving. Luckily for us a new Hy-Vee had just opened and we got us something to eat before going to pharmacy to get more of those yummy pills for Skippy's pain. Then back to Bob & Peggy and girls. Hertta was missing mommy quite badly and the welcome from her was as great as usual.

I took quickly care of girls, we had something to eat and then dead-tired to bed. Next morning it was time to look at the bike. We moved the bike to the workshop and I started to dismantle it... plenty of damage! I stripped the entire front parts off until we saw the front support frame which was totally bent. Rob came to help and with a two meter long crow bar he moved the frame back into its position. Then Bob brought plenty of special two-component glue and I started to glue the broken headlights back together as well as some of the other plastic pieces.

In the end of the first day it started to look already better and I was sure we can fix the essential parts of the fairing. It was clear that the handlebar needed replacement, the foot peg might be weldable, the sidecase mounting kit looked a well-cooked spaghetti, one pannier was seriously out of shape and the locks were damaged. The front fork had tolerance and this was only a loose bearing – fast fixed as all the stuff like handlebar was already dismantled.

Next day we went first to a bike shop to get a new helmet for Skippy and check whether they have a handlebar and foot peg. It seems that inventories became unfeasible some time ago and the helmet selection was not the best. We found a right size, checked it, but the color did not match. They only had black and Skippy had enough of wearing a black helmet as we both think it gets even hotter in sunshine then a light helmet. So we knew what we wanted and ordered it online. One thing done.

Damage report:
Front sub frame bent
Right blinker broken (cable cut out, bulb broken)
Right fairing totally damaged
Windscreen shattered
Windscreen brace shattered
PoV HD Camera lens slightly scratched
Handlebar bent
Handlebar weight screws bent, one was ripped out
Left foot peg broken
Rear sub frame bent
Pannier mounting kit totally bent on all sides
Right side case twisted, lid broken, lock mechanism broken
Top case mounting frame broken
Barbie beheaded and helmet damaged.
New helmet on doctor's order.

I posted on our blog (link here) and a few other places to see whether we can get missing spareparts at least used or even as a donation (I remembered how many parts I had back home in Finland for the V-Strom and my GS which went later to trash or as a “gift” to a friend). Anyway, back to the work shop and I started to assemble the bike with the fixed parts.

Wolfi on Skype - getting things organized.
Fixing front sub frame.
Bob discussing with Rob how to fix the bent frame.

My new friend!
Bob hammering the mounting kit back into shape and testing how it fits.
Oh no - rear sub frame was also bent!

Old and new handlebar
Building up the foot peg.
It looked like that, but since we got a spare for it we throw this one away.
I combined a grocery shopping trip with sightseeing.
Hy-Vee was our organic fruitarian paradise in Nebraska.
Archway Museum over I-80.

Dobytown - rise and decline.
One of the many animal farms in the state. This one very sad without any green fields!
Camera needed also some fixing.

Skippy on her way to recovery - she can make again great tasting raw dinner :)
As good as new ;)
Hard to capture this loose sand. According to Bob the road caretaker had a big machine and he loved to run it by putting more gravel on the road and grading it to some extend. When I rode one day there were up to 30cm high sand piles in one of the lanes - a death trap for anybody! Even with a car you can easily loose grip and just slide into the ditch.

Almost ready!
Handlebar weights, foot peg and Barbie head still missing.

No more fairings ... no more "Suzi" nor girls
... and my Tarantino fan lost the "Pussy Ride" sign!
Bob and Peggy's fantastic garden - great to see that people grow their own produce!
Soo good :)
 The repair took about one week and we were good to go.
New HJC helmet
Bob gave me a tour to his fields. Here's his irrigation system.

Our heroes – Bob & Peggy!
BIG THANKS to Kirk A. and Tracy B. for giving us spare parts Free-Of-Charge and they even paid the postage! Great guys!!!

A short travelogue from the events in Minden.

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