Road Rash: The Thangs Yew Larn

Dec 31, 2015 View Comments by

While working on a construction site years ago, one guy in particular had a habit of muttering the phrase “The Thangs Yew Larn” in typical Appalachian hill country drawl every time someone had a minor accident such as shooting a spike through their hand with a nail gun.
In any case, the words somehow stuck with me over the years. I’ve hit the play button on that particular phrase after several riding incidents. They’re a lot funnier now looking back than when they were happening. I’d like to share a couple of the better ones.

4-15 Road Rash_DSC00309
Footwear Farce

Many of us have worn regular shoes while riding, especially on short trips around town. I actually rode for years without even owning a proper pair of riding boots because the pair of lace-up leather work boots did just fine. And I was too cheap to spend the money on the right footwear. I think these were the same boots that once got sprayed by a skunk. Anyhow, my thought process was modified one day riding my 350cc dual-purpose bike on the busiest street in my hometown. I slowed and downshifted while approaching a red light, leaning to the left as I stopped in preparation to support the bike with my left foot.
As I attempted to remove my foot from the peg, I found that my double-knotted (for safety) shoelace was looped over the shift lever. I simply couldn’t get my foot to the ground, and since the bike was already falling to the left, there was nothing I could do to stop it from going down. I rode the bike like a raccoon clinging to a falling tree and needed assistance from surrounding drivers to get up. I had a pair of side-zipper riding boots very quickly after that.

Bungee Cord Calamity

The next snafu is one of those instances where I stood arrow straight, puffed out my chest, and attempted something so incredibly stupid that I’m debating the wisdom of sharing it with anyone. My excuse? My young brain was not fully developed. It’s probably still not, but that’s another story. A legal disclaimer should probably precede this one, and I’ll keep it simple: Don’t ever attempt to use a bungee cord to tow a bike.

A co-worker, who I’ll call Bill, had recently restored a 1960s-era Honda scooter and was anxious to take it for a ride. Although I knew that the scooter would be no match for my metal flake yellow 1974 Suzuki GT380, I slid a substantial portion of “cool” into temporary storage and decided to join him on a short ride after work one evening. We were on a sparsely traveled state highway when the scooter sputtered and died a couple of miles from town. In hindsight, I wonder if perhaps the scooter’s restoration should have included some carburetor cleaner in addition to the can of spray paint and steel wool pad. No amount of tinkering, even when combined with liberal use of “special” words, could revive the diminutive motor.

My first lapse of judgment came when I decided that we needed to get both bikes back into town. There were no cell phones at that time, and I didn’t want to leave my Bermuda short, half-helmet clad friend by himself, vulnerable to roving bands of “Deliverance” type individuals. To our younger readers, please Google the movie Deliverance.

The only logical option was to tow the scooter into town with my bike, but what could we tow it with? No one had accidentally tossed a length of rope from a car along with an empty beer can—all we had was a bungee cord. After hooking one end to my license plate bracket and the other to the front of his scooter, we were ready to roll.

Bill hopped on the scooter after pushing it until we built up some speed, and I anxiously watched my mirror as the cord stretched to about four times its normal working length, and … held. As we approached a hill, I twisted around and told Bill to hop off and push, as the cord probably wouldn’t hold. He didn’t hear me, and simply sat, grinning like the Cheshire cat, on the scooter. Halfway through the third “JUMP OFF AND PUSH” attempt, the knotted end of the bungee cord pulled free from the hook on my bike, heading for Bill’s neck like a striking cobra. Once he regained the power of speech, the option of me riding into town for help suddenly became a viable solution, and the scooter was soon in the back of another friend’s truck.

The path of the learning curve can be terribly erratic when it comes to motorcycling. Hopefully my twisted route will put a smile on your face while filing away useful “don’t try this at home” information.

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Tags: Categories: Chronicles, Outside the Lines