The Llama Incident

by Jeff Deeney & Some Rec.Moto Friends


From: vlj@hpfcso.FC.HP.COM (Victor Johnson) 
 
In rec.motorcycles, ron@hpfcso.FC.HP.COM (Ron Miller) writes: 
 
> It is with a heavy heart that I regret to inform you that Jeff Deeney 
> appears to have been seriously injured during some sort of  
> motorcycle accident. 
>  
> I wasn't listening closely enough to the local cable-station news to 
> catch what it was all about. I also haven't been able to contact his 
> wife, he may not even be in the local hospitals because they seem to 
> have no knowlege of him. (Flight for Life will often take victims to 
> their own facility)  
>  
> The news said it was "awful."  I hope they're wrong. 
 
  They're not. 
 
  A guy a couple of cubicles down is always plugged into a scanner so 
  I asked him if he picked up anything on this.  After giving me the 
  usual ".. those thing are dangerous ...you're all nuts ...", he said there 
  had been a single vehicle accident involving a motorcycle seven miles 
  southwest of town.  There was a fire involved as the Masonville Volunteer 
  Fire Dept. was called to the scene to put out a grass fire and the rider 
  was airlifted to DGH Burn Unit.  Not good.  I'm trying to find out more. 
 
  Damn! 
  Victor Johnson 
  -------------- 
 
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From: matthews@ajsh.colorado.edu (Alex Matthews) 
 
I heard the strangest story today.  Those of you who live away from 
the Colorado Front Range are probably often amused by the strange 
juxtiposition of civilized and backwoods mentalities here in  
Colorado, but you local folks should listen up seriously because it 
looks like this time we have a real maniac to deal with. 
 
I was just down at a local shop to pick up some fork dust boots 
that I ordered for the GS450s, and one of the parts guys was all aflame 
about an "accident" he saw on his way into work today.  He 
was riding in through the foothills and was nearly run off the 
road by - get this - a truck with *llamas* in it!  That by itself  
might not be too bad, even a bit amusing on a good day, but later on 
down the road he came across a group of emergency trucks strung out  
across a field, with oil on the outside of a turn and what looked like 
a burning motorcycle over across a field.  He was nearly stopped anyway 
trying to tiptoe around the oil, so he rode up to one of the 
firemen and asked what was happening.  The reply was that the  
cyclist was pretty badly burned and they were clearing a helicopter 
landing area to fly him to a hospital.  The fireman didn't know how 
it happened, so the parts guy told him about the crazy truck driver, 
thinking that the truck ran the bike off the road.   
 
The fireman said he'd radio it in, so the driver is probably behind  
bars now, but it left all of us with major new jitters about meeting  
trucks on the wrong side of a canyon road.  With the laws as lax as they 
are we can probably look forward to meeting up with this idiot 
truck in the near future, as the courts will probably just slap his 
wrist and let him keep his license "for the continuance of his 
business."  Business?  Llamas?  Sheesh, let the granola yuppies 
grow their own pack animals; let's put this driver in the electric 
chair and pour gasoline over him. 
 
Sorry for the diatribe, but after having been run off the road once 
by a drink driver I don't take too kindly to that sort of lunacy. 
*sigh*  April's just around the corner, maybe I should just take a 
deep breath, wait for spring, and leave the flaming to someone else. 
 
--  
-Alex Matthews (matthews@ajsh.colorado.edu) 
DoD #0010    
"Every particle continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a  
straight line except insofar as it doesn't."  -- Sir Arthur Eddington 
 
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From: jld@hpfcso.FC.HP.COM (Jeff Deeney) 
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1992 15:20:14 GMT 
 
Reports of my death have been  greatly  exaggerated.  Yes, I had a mishap, 
but I've been  released  from the  hospital  and I'm now at home for a few 
weeks.  Too bad I can't  say the  same  for my  motorcycle.  Writing  is a 
little awkward with some of the bandages, so please excuse any errors. 
 
I've got good news and bad news.  The good news is that I finally  got the 
750 put back  together.  Ron  Miller  was over a couple of nights  ago and 
helped me wrestle the engine  back into the frame.  Another  late night in 
the  garage had the pipes and  carburetors  back on.  The next  morning, I 
hooked up the fuel and fired it up.  It took a few minutes  for the engine 
to catch, but it eventually started firing.  First on one, two, three, and 
finally all four cylinders.  The garage and driveway were filled with blue 
smoke as the assembly lubrication burned off. 
 
Before I tell you any more, I have a  confession  to make.  Ron knows  all 
about this and has  threatened  to make my  frugality  public, so I may as 
well beat him to it.  Because I place  little  value on the street  pig, I 
didn't want to invest any more than  necessary  to get her running  again. 
 
The only new parts I bought for the top end rebuild were one exhaust valve 
and a top end seal kit.  I reused the cam chains,  the chain wear  blocks, 
and even the piston rings.  Everything was still well within specification 
after 37k miles and 11 years and I saw no reason to replace them.  If only 
I'd known then what I know now. :-( 
 
After about an hour of gentle  riding  around  town, I decided to take her 
out in the  country for some high speed  break-in.  There's a nice  little 
two-lane here that winds around  Horsetooth  Reservoir  above town.  After 
warming up on several  miles of  twisties, I turned  South at  Masonville. 
There are some good straight stretches here so I decided to open it up for 
a long burst. 
 
Not long after the 85mph speedometer  buried the needle, I begin to detect 
that  something was not right.  Within a matter of seconds, a dull ticking 
grew to a loud  clacking  and the entire  motorcycle  begin to shudder.  I 
just  started to shut down the  throttle  when one of the rods snapped and 
proceeded  to  ventilate  the  crankcases.  The  engine  suddenly  stopped 
turning and locked the rear wheel;  which was now  thoroughly  coated with 
oil. 
 
The back end came around on me just before I regained enough  composure to 
pull the clutch in.  Being halfway  sideways, the bars violently  wrenched 
my shoulders and I was almost tossed off as the bike straightened out.  By 
this time, I would  estimate  that I was still doing at least 80 miles per 
hour.  Having focused on getting the bike back under control, I had failed 
to notice the sharp corner  coming up.  When I tried the brakes, I quickly 
learned  that the  engine  had  hurled  oil over all three  disks.  What I 
wouldn't have given for good old drum brakes right about then! 
 
When it  became  obvious  that  there  was no way I was  going to make the 
corner with no brakes and oil covered tires, I stood the bike up and tried 
to pick a path with the  minimum  number of  hazards.  I think  that I got 
some air as I left the  roadway and  dropped  down the slight  bank into a 
field.  I narrowly  missed a fence post and punched  through a barbed wire 
fence.   
 
If you've  ridden  along  the  county  road  South of  Masonville,  you've 
probably seen the large llama ranch to the East of the County road.  Well, 
the field that I had  rocketed  into  happened to be occupied by a herd of 
very  surprised  llamas.  They  scattered  as I  approached,  but I  still 
managed to clip the  hindquarters of a large brown and white male, sending 
waves of pain through my left hand and forearm.  Having cleared the shaggy 
creatures, I found myself  headed for a ditch with a berm on the side that 
I was  approaching.  I had the  choice of  hitting  the ditch  square,  or 
trying to lay the bike  down.  I  realized  that with my  current  rate of 
speed, even sliding, I would still hit the ditch at high speed, so I opted 
to square up as best I could,  stand up on the pegs, and  prepare  for the 
impact.  It's really amazing how fast the brain  processes  information in 
the adrenelin induced time expansion. 
 
The  suspension  bottomed with a loud  Ker-THUNK at both ends as I hit the 
embankment.  I pulled  back  hard on the bars as I  crested  the  mound to 
prevent  the back end from  kicking up into the air.  Ideally I would have 
used a burst of throttle  at this point to maintain  the proper  attitude. 
For a while, I thought  that I was going to clear the  entire  ditch,  but 
when I landed, the frame  smacked  into the soft dirt lining the  opposite 
lip of the ditch.  I could hear the pipes crumple and grind beneath me. 
 
The impact  tore my hands from the bars and the chin of my helmet  smacked 
into the tank, scattering stars across the inside of my faceshield.  I was 
actually  quite  lucky  that my hands were not on the bars at this  point. 
You see, as irrigation  ditches in Colorado often have, this one was lined 
with large cottonwood trees.  Through some kind of divine intervention, my 
trajectory took me squarely  between two of them.  This would have been OK 
if the trees were six inches  further  apart.  Each end of the  handlebars 
sent up a shower of coarse, dry bark as the bars received a modified  cafe 
racer bend. 
 
I managed to wrestle control of the mangled handlebars just as I looked up 
to see an  electric  fence  approaching.  By this  time, my speed had been 
slowed considerably.  I was able to bring the back end around and slide to 
a stop within  inches of the fence.  I sat there for a few moments to take 
inventory of all major limbs.  I was astounded to discover that other than 
some sore muscles, I was pretty much unscathed. 
 
Then I noticed the strong smell of gasoline. I stepped of the bike and put 
it on the  sidestand.  The source of the gasoline  was a deep gouge in the 
leading edge of the tank, probably from the barbed wire fence.  Hearing an 
approaching  vehicle, I turned to see the llama rancher blazing across the 
field on a  4-wheeler.  The last thing I remember was walking  toward him, 
loosening my helmet, and trying to think up an  appropriate  opening  line 
like, "I meant to do that!  He-He". 
 
I'm told that the  fireball  created when the  sidestand  sunk in the soft 
dirt and the bike tipped into the electric fence was quite spectacular.  I 
was very fortunate that the rancher was able to douse my flaming  clothing 
in short order.  Unfortunately,  the only thing he had to douse the flames 
with was a couple gallons of insecticide.  Nevertheless,  the doctors tell 
me that my chances of leading a normal life are pretty good.  The bandages 
should be off in time for our dirt riding trip to Canyonlands, but I would 
imagine I'll have to stay out of the sun as much as possible. 
 
So here it is, the first of April,  spring is here in full  force, and I'm 
stuck inside until some of these lesions  either explode or fall off.  Let 
this be a lesson, don't scrimp on repairs, or you'll pay, painfully. :-/ 
 
-Jeff Deeney-           DoD#0498    NCTR    '88 XR600(Shamu)  
jld@hpfcla.fc.hp.com    AMA#540813  COHVCO  '81 CB750F(In Cinders) 
"...and that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death;   
 an experience which I don't hesitate to strongly recommend." 
               -Baron Von Munchausen 

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