We recently had a fabulous trip out to the NW Corner and bck. 10 wonderful days of great riding and fabulous roads (yes there will be a report coming), but something was different in my mental prep this time around. As the years mount up, the odds can weigh against you and I had a sense of unease that I've never felt before, a nagging concern that there could be misfortune ahead. No we didn't have any real issues, but my senses were far more heightened than I can ever recall.
The trip out to Washington was nothing short of riding nirvana, fabulous weather, traffic (other than the lower mainland nearing Vancouver) was fine, and my pre-planning had us in very good accomodations for the most part and nothing got left behind (especially the passports like last year LOL). We toured the backroads around Bellingham and though we didn't have time to ride up to Winthrop we did some serious riding and floorboard scraping (enough that I need to replace the board protective pads again). I could live ther and be in total riding bliss forever.
On the way home however, my suspicions were confirmed, and some total nimrod in his car turned left (classic right?) directly in front of me as I was passing through and intersection to a fueling station in Golden BC. After the initial emergency escape was executed, the bikes horn (damn, but Goldwings have fabulously LOUD horns) blared followed by an extremely profane verbal tyrade into the cager's open window, we got to the pumps with no harm done. Even my wife was pi$$ed off at him. I still believe he didn't know he did anything wrong.
Three days later we rolled up the Icefield Parkway into Jasper Park. Just North of Sunwapta Falls, a cager passed us with very little room to spare from oncoming traffic (I had been watching him rather closely in the mirror as he clearly was watching for an opportunity to overtake us; we were doing about 70mph). I pulled over to the shoulder to give him room and he took full advantage of it, passing us at far too close a margin than I am comfortable with. With no need to stop in the tourist trap town, we took the bypass, same as the car did. From my vantage piont behind him I could see his driving was becoming very erratic and he seemed engrossed in conversation with his passenger. I opened up my follow time to about double my usual time gap between 8 and 10 seconds. If I had exactly 8 seconds I was covering 700 feet at 60 mph, if I take a second to recognize, and a second to react, I still have time to stop my bike well within the 700 foot mark. Theoretically anyway. Oncoming traffic was very heavy, trucks, trailers, motorhomes, you name it it was there coming at us in a steady stream. Just then the driver veered left right into the oncoming lane and an oncoming semi. I hit the binders hard enough that my wife's helmet smacked mine hard enough to knock my head forward and she squealed in fright as she could see what was taking place now. Several things happened at once: the semi pulled over to the shoulder, the cager got his car back into the proper lane, and I was alomst at a full stop pulling over to the shoulder on my side. Had the trck not pulled over, the car was toast, and the semi would likely have lost control and took us out too. As it was, I had done as much as I could to ensure our safety, but had the truck lost it, it would have been nasty for us.
My point in all this is that you can be aware, give yourself a margin of safety and still end up in deep doodoo. I'll never know whether or not we'd have been ok had the truck and car collided. We certainly wouldn't have hit the car, but a big rig wouldn't stop after hitting that car and could have very easily lost it and continued on and ran us down. Sometimes it's not just the other guy, sometimes it's more than one other guy.