The Bag-Drag Boogie
June 1, 2011
I was riding my first motorcycle, a Suzuki GSXR 1000, that Iâ€™d bought about a year earlier. The previous year, my girlfriend bought me motorcycle riding lessons from a Harley-Davidson dealership as a birthday gift. She knew how much I wanted to ride. The four-day Riderâ€™s Edge course helped me a lot. One of the lessons we were taught was how to properly secure items while riding. Cruiser-type motorcycles, such as Harley-Davidsons, often have saddlebags or even trunks to carry gear. However, on my Suzuki sport bike, I was pretty much limited to whatever I could strap to the gas tank or rear fender.
As I got ready to hit the road that morning, I used a spider bungee cord to strap my travel bag to the rear fender. I checked and double-checked the bag to make sure it was secure before heading out. As I pulled onto the highway, everything seemed normal. Periodically, I reached back and checked the bag to make sure it was still there. Iâ€™d only gone about 20 miles when things suddenly changed.
I was riding in the right-hand lane at 75 mph when the engine light came on and I lost all power. I didnâ€™t have a clue what was happening, but I felt like I was riding on ice as my bike skidded at least 100 feet into the fast lane and stopped. Fortunately, my motorcycle training had taught me to not panic, so I didnâ€™t lose control.
My mind was racing. Here I was at â€ś0-dark-thirtyâ€ť on the highway with traffic rapidly overtaking me. I got off my motorcycle and started pushing it into the emergency lane. However, as I pushed, I noticed the bike was difficult to move. When I got into the emergency lane, I checked the bike see what had happened. At first, I didnâ€™t notice anything. Then it struck me " â€śWhere did my bag go?â€ť Then I saw where it had gone. The bag I thought Iâ€™d properly secured had fallen and become jammed between the motorcycleâ€™s fender and rear wheel. Thatâ€™s what locked up the rear wheel and sent me skidding across the road.
As I stood there, my heart was pounding in my chest. I realized how bad the situation could have been had I not been trained to properly handle motorcycle emergencies. Beyond the initial training I received from Harley-Davidson, Iâ€™d also taken the Military Sportbike RiderCourse. In an emergency, good training pays off.
I learned that day it is essential to properly secure any bags or luggage when riding a motorcycle. I should have known the spider bungee cord I was using wasnâ€™t up to the job. Since the accident, I have looked into buying a tank bag. Had I been using one that morning, Iâ€™d have been enjoying the day with my girlfriend instead of doing the â€śbag-drag boogieâ€ť on the interstate.