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Highly Flammable

    • 220 posts
    May 10, 2016 9:15 PM EDT
    Highly Flammable

    Edge Walker July 9, 2011
    I wrote and posted this story back in 2011. It recounts a tale from my past, one I hope never to forget. When I first posted it, I caught a LOT of flak from readers about how ‘This could never have happened, you’re lying!’ and ‘It must have been diesel, but it wouldn’t have caught fire’ or ‘Fun story but I think that’s all it is, a story’… ouch

    I will say this once more; I am a writer, a rider and a biker. I write fiction out of my twisted mind. In addition, historical fiction based on my experiences and stories told to me by other bikers and finally, non-fiction stories that have happened to ME! I change the characters and club names (for my protection) and when I write about something I say happened to me, you can ‘Take that to the bank’. I’m an honorable man and a good writer; do you really think I would lie in a public forum? Why not just post this under ‘Fiction’ and move on?

    This is a true story that happened to ME! If you don’t believe my story, that’s fine. Read it as ‘fiction’ and enjoy. I respectfully ask that you do not call me a ‘liar’… since you weren’t there to help me pick up the pieces of my bike or put up with my Bro when he was trying to pick up on one the ER nurses while they reset his jawbone. No breaks, just dislocated jaw. Read my story, comment if you wish and thanks for reading!

    The night air pressing against my body was hot, at least 95* and we were riding in Levi’s, boots and cotton tee’s. I was riding my 57/67 pan shovel. Rigid frame, 12” over springer front end with no front brake. My riding partner of 2 years was next to me on his hopped-up 750 Kawasaki and we were heading home after tipping a few. I had stayed within my self-imposed limit of two drink = one hour and felt comfortable on the bike and in my skin.

    We were cruising streets that we were very familiar with and the traffic was light at ten thirty. We were riding side-by-side and were headed west in the left lane of a major city street that had three lanes in each direction with designated left turn lanes. The speed limit was 45 mph and we were doing five over as we pulled into our left turn to head for the barn.

    The light was green for us and there was no oncoming traffic so we throttled off a little and I dropped back and let him take point. We hit the intersection at speed and leaned hard left. Everything went south at this point. My dependable, hard-riding bro (I never saw this man drop his bike, till now) was sliding on his left side and spewing bright yellow and white sparks from under his bike. He was almost sitting on top his gas tank as he rode the Mighty Kawi across the intersection.

    My beautiful chopper, that I had assembled by hand, now found that the blacktop was too slick to remain in a tight corner and unceremoniously DUMPED ME in the intersection. It was sometime in the first 1.5 seconds that I realized several things. The Never Ending Belt Sander was still working, I was losing my hide; there was a STRONG smell of gasoline and now I could see that we were sliding through a carpet of small, blue and yellow flames.

    As I write this I am covered with duck-bumps just remembering that night. We slid across the intersection and impacted the far curb at approximately the same speed that we entered the intersection. Not pretty! We both hit and flipped over. The Mighty Kawi survived with a few lumps and scrapes. Shifter lever, gone. Tank dented, forks slightly tweaked (we loosened everything up later and brought it back to true) and three broken spokes on the back tire.

    ‘The Chopper’ did not fare as well.... Shredded clutch basket, toasted primary, bent tranny input shaft, popped rear tire, assorted dents and I had lost at least five pounds of hide. When my bike hit the curb, she tossed me with the same dexterity that I had been thrown years before by my flesh and blood horse. I landed in an inglorious heap fifteen feet away but instantly leaped to my feet and ran to The Chopper to shut off the ignition switch and the gas.

    I was the first to the bikes and turned his ignition off and his gas petcock too. I was pretty freaked about flames-in-the-road, ya know? As I turned to see how he was, he was just getting off the ground and seemed kinda wobbly. He had banged his head when he landed and I was worried it could be bad. He had a hard head (like mine) but not harder than concrete.

    Neither of us was wearing a helmet and I thought right then that maybe I should start. As I watched him, his jaw ballooned to an alarming size. He had hit the point of his chin on the gauges of his Kawi when he hit the curb. Looked like his jaw was broken, he probably had a concussion and there were no cell phones back then. Suffice to say, we got him to the ER, got the bikes picked up by friends and taken home and we got in around 3 in the morning. Of course, at this time in my life, that meant it was time to party! So we did it right....

    In retrospect, I think a gas-burning box-truck, maybe a U-Haul, was missing the cap on his passenger-side fuel tank. When he took the left-hand corner that night, he spewed gasoline onto the blacktop. It was hot enough to evaporate most of the gas but we came along at JUST the right/wrong time to set it ablaze. A few minutes later, maybe 20, we would never have known there was a fuel spill. A few minutes earlier.... BOOM! We would have been immolated. Thank you Great Spirit for Good Timing!

    This happened in ’78 or ’79 and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. The flames were only ‘vapor flames’, short dancing blue wispy flames. They only lasted for less than a minute, started in front of my eyes when my buddy hit the deck and spread out from his sparks as he slid across the intersection. It was right then that I did the same, dropped the Chopper, and started sliding. It was as if the pavement was covered in oil or something slick and there was nothing I could do but go down. I was in the middle of a left turn, doing 45-50 mph, there was suddenly no traction, and we were sliding thru dancing blue flames.

    Neither of our bikes was leaking fuel (thankfully) and by the time I got up to turn off the bikes, there were no more flames. Several cars stopped to help and when I asked them about the flames, only one person had seen them too. He was in his car, headed the other direction and was in the right turn lane; he had front row seats to our ‘Fiery Flame-Out’. He told me “It was crazy man! I was watching man! I heard a BANG and when I looked up, your buddy was sliding in a puddle of flames, man! I thought his bike was on fire, man! Then you dumped it and started sliding and then you hit the curb and when I looked back the flames were gone man! That was so cool!” end quote… or something like that, close enough. We all said ‘Man’ a lot back then <chuckle>

    Hope you enjoyed the story. At the time, it all happened so fast I didn’t really have the time to freak out. That came later at the ER, accompanied by the shakes and a slamming headache. Remember, sometimes Truth is stranger than Fiction and some things defy explanation.

    Edge ‘FlameOn’ Walker

    • 18 posts
    May 10, 2016 10:11 PM EDT
    crazy, man. Glad ya came out of that one or we wouldn't have all your great stories to read. Keep on keepin on!
    • 326 posts
    May 15, 2016 7:26 AM EDT
    Edge good writing as usual.
    • 19 posts
    May 15, 2016 12:28 PM EDT
    as usual man, great