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When Your Ass Catches on Fire

Friday, December 5th, 2014 RIDING

My ass is saved!

 

Ever find yourself a player in one of your own insane dramas when you react to an emergency life or death situation as if you were cooly swatting a fly away from your face? Well, this is just what I experienced on the first of my eight day solo ride up the coast from LA to Seattle, Washington, when my ass caught on fire.

There I was in the fast lane, zipping along the boringly straight Interstate 5 Freeway, a mere 100 miles from my brother’s boat home in San Francisco’s harbor. The high-pitched hum of “Jack,” my DRZ, had lulled me into a meditative state where only something out of the ordinary could shake me. And there it was — one of the worst possible moto “Richter Scale” scenarios. My butt felt extremely hot through the motorcycle pants, and as I glanced down behind to the right there were flames shooting from the saddlebag and exhaust! Luckily, ┬áthere was a gap between the 18-wheelers in the slow lane, so I zipped over to the shoulder for an emergency stop without the flames climbing my leg.

The next 15 minutes felt as if I were an observer of someone else’s nightmare, as I surreally reacted to the insanity. Thousands of thoughts raced through my head as I tried to smother the fire by beating on it with my glove. To make matters worse, I was quickly using up the oxygen within my helmet with no time to think of opening the visor. Not one person pulled over for me after I waved like a crazy person with flames and smoke shooting from my bike. What was fabulous about this is that I was left to my own devices to save Jack and myself from a fiery fate. It was a good thing I grabbed a piece of tire from the road to try and swat out the fire, because the weight of it ended up knocking the burning bag off the bike.

It was then that I remembered that I was still wearing my CamelBak, which was still 3/4 full and ready to save my ass before the flames hit the tank. So, I poured the contents out and doused the fire before all went up in flames. Finally, a woman pulled over and gave me two extra bottles of water and called 911 for me.

By the time the fire engine arrived, I had already proven that I could meet this big challenge head on and take care of myself. I met them with a huge smile and laugh about how my adventure had started off with a bang. They gave the bag a final dousing, and surgically cut the melted plastic away from the pipe. A peek inside the damaged area revealed that only the electrical tape around the wires had begun to melt, but the wiring seemed intact. They asked if I needed a tow, but I answered, “If this baby starts up, I’m outta here!” And wouldn’t you know it, my amazingly reliable Suzuki DRZ400 kicked over immediately. So, I grabbed an extra set of ROK Straps from my tank bag, lashed the surviving Ortlieb saddle bag to the top of my load, and was off.

My brother, Jonathan, had left work early to greet me at his boat. As he waited for my late arrival, he got on Facebook to pass the time, and discovered the post of my smiling face next to smoking Jack. As I finally pulled up, he ran out to give his only sibling an extra huge hug. There was just one answer to where we’d go to dinner that night, “Let’s get your butt in the water and kayak across the estuary to restaurant row for a well-deserved toast to life!”

And a short while later, there we sat on the outdoor waterfront patio of a fabulous Jack London Square restaurant raising our glasses to “not letting anything get in the way of chasing our dreams and living life to the fullest.”

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