While my motorcycle is jerking side to side, I see smoke billowing out of the RV that is right in front of me. We would later find out that the smoke is pouring out of the RV was the engine exploding and spewing oil and antifreeze all over the blacktop of the Interstate. Being the first motorcycle behind the RV, I hit the oil/antifreeze mixture; which, was later described as “slipperier than ice”. That is the reason my bike is totally out of control.
My mind is racing, the end is coming quick, and it all is going to happen somewhere on Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Sturgis, SD. I remember that we just passed a veterans cemetery and I was praying I wouldn’t become one of the motorcycle accident statistics of the 1996 Bike Rally. But, the next thing to come to my mind, was the voice of my motorcycle safety instructor; which I had heard for close to 40 hours during the training some years before. The voice I heard said, ‘don’t fight it, lay it down’, ‘don’t fight it, lay it down!’ The thought, in a normal state of mind, makes no sense at all. Yet at that very second it made perfect sense! There was no other choice. I had to do something because disaster was waiting to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to make it out of this situation alive and I thought I might as well try to lay the bike down and see what would happened next. So, I made the decision, and laid it down.
I consciously move my weight to my right in order to pull the entire motorcycle over on its side. I had no choice. It was inevitable. I was going down, so why not make it happen myself. Thinking that this is the end I at least had happy thoughts of my husband and son floating through my mind. Yet, those thoughts are changed quickly because at this moment, I’m still alive. One second I’m looking at a RV with smoke piling out of it and the next second I’ve been spun around, my motorcycle gone, and I’m sliding down the Interstate on my backside having been spun around and now facing oncoming traffic.
I’m sliding on the oil/antifreeze mixture that has covered the blacktop, lying on my back being protected by my leather vest. The many motorcycles and other vehicles that were behind me at one time are now coming right at me. I’m still sliding at speeds of excess of maybe 60+ mph with no protection except my leather vest, jeans and riding boots. I’m like spaghetti, my feet are in the air, my arms are flailing, and I’m trying to hold my head off of the pavement because, if you remember, I took my helmet off and strapped it on the back of my bike not more than 20 minutes earlier. I knew I had to keep my head lifted to try to see if I could have any say in what might happen in the next few seconds. I steadied my head and could now see what was in front of me-another Harley. It was coming straight for me. The riders had been ejected already and this lone, unmanned motorcycle and I were about to collide.
The next seconds are crucial. I might make it out of this one or I could easily be smashed by the huge chunk of metal coming at me. The unmanned bike was in a dangerous position with the handle bars aimed directly at my groin area. I remembered at that split second the story of a high school classmate’s fatal who died when the gear shifter jammed into her groin area causing her t bleed to death. I decide to pull my legs together as close as I could and draw my knees into my chest. I’m now in the tightest ball position one can assume while sliding down the Interstate on their backside. Now in the tuck position with my head lifted and legs together, my riding boots were additional protection between my body and the oncoming Harley. I angle my boots for the seat of the fast approaching motorcycle with hopes to have my boots collide with the seat and miss the handle bars all together. Bam…jolt…pressure. I felt the impact square in the center of the seat. The impact is so intense with such tremendous force that it is like a spring board at a swimming pool. It shoots me off the seat and propels me into the air. While traveling mid-air I complete two full summersaults and am like a professional gymnast waiting for the perfect landing. Bang…thud…impact. Both boots land squarely in a tight formation and I receive a “10” rating as I land in a standing position on the shoulder of the Interstate. I AM STANDING, yes; you read that correctly…STANDING. I am now facing the ditch, looking at houses and the beautiful hillside of the Black Hills of SD. Was I alive and here in this world? Or was Heaven looking a lot like Sturgis? When my thoughts were collected and I realized I was still alive and not in heaven, I figured I have to be hurt and blood is going to be everywhere from surviving that crazy ride!
My focus came away from the houses and hillside as I began to look downward to begin the thorough examination of what had to be a mangled, bloody mess. I started with my mid section; my vest was still on and snapped. I move my eyes down further to my legs; my jeans were still intact with the exception of a small tear in the knee on my right pant leg. Ok, that was good. Boots still on my feet, check. Now for my arms, they had to be full of road rash from all the crazy positions and angles my body had just endured. The leather jacket sure would have come in handy during this ordeal, but only my leather vest and tank top would be the layer of protection. Looking at each arm individually, the left one was totally fine. Nothing, no broken skin, no blood, no road rash. The right arm was close to the same with the exception of a small break of skin with a trace of blood oozing out, but nothing more than I’d ever experienced from years of growing up on the farm and being a typical Tom Boy. I began moving a bit to see if there was any pain anywhere that would indicate any broken bones, but there was nothing. Absolutely nothing seemed to be wrong with me.