Well, sometimes things just don’t turn out quite as expected.
It was a great day for a ride – one of the very few we’ve had so far this year actually – so I was quite interested in putting a few miles on my orange 1976 GT750. I’m the second owner of this bike, and have had it in my care since 1986. At that time we really didn’t have much in the way of disposable income, and a motorcycle was the last thing I really needed to spend money on, but what attracted me to it immediately was that it was the same colour as the one we’d had stolen in 1974. The engine on this 1976 bike was seized solid, but the bike itself was original and pretty much complete with the exception of one frame cover, so I gladly picked it up and had it running before too long.
I made a few trips on it – once out to Vancouver and back in a weekend – and drove it to work regularly over the years till we moved to Calgary. Its been super reliable, and although I have toyed with the idea several times of changing it over to an electronic ignition system, I never felt it necessary as the points based ignition for the most part has been rock solid. Of late, the clutch has been starting to sound a bit odd ( it is the original clutch), but all-in-all like many old friends, if you were familiar with their idiosyncrasies it wasn’t really a bother.
I headed out for Bragg Creek following Highway 8, and 22, and then cut down through Millarville where I picked up Highway 549 and pointed toward Okotoks. and then on to Highway 2a into Aldersyde and into High River. Everything was running well so I continued on to Nanton which I’ve written about previously here and stopped there for a bit of lunch at the Wild Thyme Cafe, on the east side Nanton just off of Highway 2 northbound. I stopped because I liked the name, and was then very pleasantly surprised at both the service and also the food – recommended !
After lunch it was a straight shot home northwards up Highway 2, and then the Deerfoot bypass into Calgary, on to Bow Bottom Trail and then to the intersection of Bow Bottom and Deer Side Dr, which is where disaster struck. I should first mention, that Calgary is a very nice place to live, but has idiots as elected officials. I’m sure they are all quite pleasant people individually, but for whatever reason, when they gather together to exercise their collected wisdom, invariably they manage to demonstrate that as a group, wisdom is the last thing they possess. Take street maintenance as a simple example – their starting position is that it isn’t required, and so in the winter (and this is a northern city with long winters) the roads are not ploughed but instead covered with pea gravel that then is kicked up and breaks car windscreens and headlamps. With the roads not cleared, after every snowfall there are many accidents leading one to wonder if perhaps city council members are given shares in body repair shops as part payment for their vacuousness, but I digress ……. Once spring eventually arrives all the roads are covered with this gravel, which continues to break windscreens and headlights well into May and June. There is an effort of sorts to clear up the gravel, but it really does not seem to be a priority – as an example, the Calgary Stampede banners have already been installed on light posts and standards on many streets by city works crews, but the gravel and the pot holes on the roads still remain.
Gravel and two-wheeled vehicles have an uneasy relationship – on a paved road covered with a light coating of small gravel, it is much like trying to drive on a surface covered in ball bearings. I had been around this corner a number of times this year and although the side of the roadway had not been cleaned and had a lot of loose gravel on it, the centre area of the intersection had been clear. The operative words being ‘had been’ – perhaps a car or truck had kicked some gravel from the roadside into the intersection, or some had dropped from the back of a truck carrying a gravel load. Whatever the reason, as I entered the corner I saw it too late to avoid it and both I and my trusty Buffalo hit the pavement hard. This is of course, why you wear safety equipment – I always cringe when I see some ‘dude’ with his ‘dude-ette’ on the back in their t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops, as I know what pavement does to skin even at slow speeds. And the idea of not wearing a proper helmet as is allowed in some parts of the world just appalls me – although in the case of an accident I suppose it does improve the gene pool, as they are obviously too stupid to be allowed to breed.
At any rate after a trouble-free run of about 290 km I approached the corner to make a left turn, put on the turn signal and then hit the deck. I wasn’t going fast – about 40km/hour – and because of all the equipment I was wearing I wasn’t hurt badly at all, although I do have some colourful bruising. My beloved 1976 Buffalo is repairable – at first glance actually there isn’t too much damage at all, although as is typical in most Buffalo crashes, the points cover and points are toast – which I suppose provides me with the perfect excuse to install that electronic ignition I’ve been thinking about !