The Road Snake
Today I knocked off at noon, in order to get back some time I had given
the company recently working on a weekend. I wanted to head over to a Honda dealer to find out if I fit
on an ST-1300, and most dealers are closed on Monday so I had some miles ahead of me to get to one that
was open, in Whittier. I sort of knew I could get there if I took the 60 Fwy East, then get off
somewhere around Rowland Heights, go through the hills, then on Whittier Blvd. a ways west of Colima Rd.
The traffic slowed, and the right two lanes were solid trucks. I headed over from the #1 lane to the #3
over the course of a few miles, as I kind of knew I'd be getting off the freeway soon but I didn't
want to do any sudden dives for the offramp. I was doing 65 about now when a truck ahead of me finished
running over a road snake, or a very large piece of truck load strap.
I guessed it would be in the right-hand wheel track and went to the left-hand wheel track. The snake
twised around and laid out lengthwise in the left-hand wheel track. I figured it looked docile enough,
not likely to kick up if I ran over it and I didn't fancy trying to swerve to miss it and be in a
lean when I went over it so I went over it straight-up. I expected to have a little bump, and I did,
but I did not expect to start losing the rear end. The rear started a slide towards the right side
and I applied corrections, then it came upright and started sliding towards the left. More corrections
and I focused my eyes full onto the straight lanes ahead of me awaiting the deceleration to a complete
stop. It was only when I was 10MPH or so from a complete stop that I started to think it was a good
idea if possible to try to steer it towards the shoulder, but it came to a complete stop moments later
in between the #1 and #2 lanes. Now, let me tell you, looking backwards at 4 completely stopped
lanes of traffic on the 60 freeway is both a relief and a panic. Fsck, what now?!
I figured I had about 3 seconds before the traffic started flowing again, and I'd be trapped out there
in the middle of traffic unable to do anything about it. The guy behind me couldn't go but the other
three lanes could, and did. I tried as hard as I could to push the bike but the rear wheel was locked
by the snake. It had wrapped around both the left-side brake and hub, and the right-side driveshaft
You can see some bite marks in the bar connecting
the brake caliper to the swingarm - that's where the black hook in the third picture grabbed.
This picture looks clean but it was all snake
when I was stuck there.
Somebody started honking, and I think he was yelling to get it to the shoulder. I was demonstrating
the stuck rear wheel. Out of nowhere 4 guys came up and helped me push it to the side of the road,
while two truckers had stopped the #3 and #4 lanes. Thanks, guys!! One of them was frantically
trying to cut the snake loose and I was frantically tapping him on the back to remind him he should
get back to his van before the traffic started moving again or *he'd* be trapped on the side of the
road. When he looked up I showed him my pocket knife and he offered to leave me with a drywall
scraper blade. I thanked him best I could and soon all the traffic was flowing again.
This snake stuff is very tough, and I had a much easier time just rocking the bike backwards and pulling
the snake free. I knew if that didn't work then I could fall back to using the knife but I also knew
the stuff was going to be tough to cut. I got the snake clear of the bike (in three pieces), then
picked it up and stuffed it into the side luggage, figuring maybe I would snap a few pics and write
up the accident. I examined the bike best I could on the side of the freeway (I found my accessory
socket weather cover on the road) and started off slow, then brought it up to merging speed and
took the next offramp.
No bent brake rotor, and other things seem to be fine, but I was pretty shaken. I made it close
to the bike dealer and stopped at an Arby's first and grabbed a bite, hoping the feeling of shock
would wear off. It didn't. I walked around the dealer a little but I saw no ST-1300s at all.
I'm bummed out. Maybe they don't make the ST-1300 any more. Nobody around to ask. Okay,
I'll go for a ride on Glendora Ridge Route. I don't want to let this day go to waste.
I'm aware as I ride that I'm not all there. I'm still pretty numb. The road is passing
underneath me, and the cars are passing around me, and I'm not all there. Best to head
back home then. I went for the 10 West, and I tried a few corners at my normal freeway pace.
Bike seems okay but I'm detached. When I got it home I checked the rear tire.
The only damage is a tire, and my accessory plug and weather cover.