Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Big Louie's Knucklehead

About 35 years ago this was the bike that kicked off my love of motorcycles.  It has perfect lines even by todays standards, no clutter, kick it up a bit in the front and run a sprung solo with a p-pad.  When I was a kid I built a chopped BSA that had the same lines, my wife hated that p-pad. After a block it went flat and she could feel every bump, pothole and crater the road offered up.  I would ride that bike as fast as it would run, I remember splitting lanes at crazy speeds.  It was the Grace of God that I am still around.

My buddy Mike and I were running up highway 29 from Vallejo to Napa and must have been very close to 90 mph when a car pulled across our lane and stopped.  I was running on the right side of the road so I hit the throttle and was going close to 100 when I squeezed past his front bumper.  Mike couldn't get out of the way and hit the car broadside.  I didn't know he had crashed until I was well past the car and heard the collision.  I did a u-turn and went back to find him laying on the roof of the car and I thought he was dead, the helmet strap cut his throat so deep I could look at the back of his throat.  He told me later that when he knew he was going to hit the car he climbed up on the seat and flipped up on the roof.  He broke both legs, his arm, almost severed his head and had multiple internal trauma.

He lived but it wasn't too cool for a long time.  The strange thing was that the guy who turned left in front of us and stopped had the same thing happen to him and his wife when they were on their honeymoon.  He felt pretty bad about it, he was old and just froze up. 

Mike never did fully recover, one of his legs would not heal correctly.  After he got the insurance settlement he got into some things that hurt his full recovery.  I tried to get him re-focused by giving him a K Model basket case that I had sitting around.  He worked on it a little but never finished putting it together.  After he died I think his brother got it and it probably just sat around until there wasn't anything left.  I tried buying it from his brother to build a memorial bike to Mike but he would not sell it to me.

Anyway, here's to you Mike.  Sorry