Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lost the Old Bag at Highway Speed!

No, not the wife, but I got your attention didn’t I?

This embarrassing story actually started about five months ago. I had stopped for breakfast with a coworker on my commute to work one Saturday morning at the local Waffle House. I had just backed the bike into a parking space, removed my helmet, and started walking towards the Waffle House entrance when I glanced back at my Mistress, that’s what I call my bike, and saw the left Custom Classic Hard Leather Saddle Bag was off its rear bracket stud and was leaning down.

I had removed the bags only one time before to give the bike a good cleaning and commuted without them just that once. I rode it only partly “topless” because I had left the Memphis Shades windshield on. I have as yet never removed both bags and shield to ride her convertible style, top down.

I put it back on after eating breakfast and then rode to work and home afterwards. I looked at it again at home and the locking cam did feel like it was binding or just not closing all the way. So I emptied the bag and removed it and lubricated the mechanism with some WD40 and reinstalled the bag. I thought is felt secure, but was too lazy to take the locking bracket off the bag itself to get a better view.

Now, fast forward to a week ago, commuting back and forth to work every day as usual. I was on my homeward bound commute on a Friday in the usual D/FW rush hour traffic, wearing full leathers, impatiently weaving in and out of bog downs but mostly staying in the “fast lane”. I exited 183 Airport Freeway onto 121 north picking up velocity to normal highway cruising speed. I took my normal exit, Cheek-Sparger Rd. as usual and down shifted one time to start engine braking.

That’s when it happened. I rode over a small seam crack in the road and I heard a clunk from the left rear of my bike. I glanced back just in time to catch out of the corner of my eye the saddlebag hitting the ground and take off tumbling down the side of the road. Checking my mirror I see it go cart wheeling off the left shoulder of the exit lane and into the median grass on the side of the freeway. I merged with the access road and exited in the first parking lot.

As I park the bike I see a white pickup pulling over onto the shoulder with its hazard flashers turned on. I get off the bike and remove my helmet and start walking back up the access road. I see the driver get out of the truck and go get the saddlebag. He put it in his truck and started back down the access road in my direction. He sees me walking back up the access road and signals me he will pull into the parking lot where my bike is parked.

The Good Samaritan pulled in behind my bike and gave me back the prodigal saddlebag. I thanked him and asked if I could pay him for his extra effort. He declined and offered some bungee chords but I had a bungee net in the saddlebag. I strapped the bag to my pillion seat and thanked him again as he left.

That Saturday I took it completely apart removing the bracket from the bag. The bag itself was not damaged too badly. The hard plastic backing plate was cracked on one corner, it was scrapped and scuffed up and some of the stitching had come loose on the lid. Considering what it had been through it came out well. I managed to get the bracket lock to unbind so that it would fully lock the bracket in place. I remounted the bag on the bike and made sure it was secured properly. Then I reinstalled the contents I usually carry back inside.

This was a good luck bad luck story. It was bad luck that the Saddlebag came completely off the bike while riding, and it is not easy to get off the bike when you are purposely trying to remove it. Good luck that it did not happen while I was in the middle of traffic or the fast lane of the freeway. I believe my Guardian Angel was looking out for me again and I shudder to think of what could have happened…..

Ride on,


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