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Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 4.19.44 PMRiding in the wind or doing research on motorcycle insurance!  Insurance research is not something any of us look forward too, but is a necessity.

Getting unbiased information on products and services along with specific pricing can be a challenge.  And we know that motorcycle insurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, but should include liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  That last item is key because it’s a well known fact that many riders are underinsured.

Every state requires motorists to carry some minimum level of insurance; this minimum level will vary from state to state. Regardless of the state, however, the minimum level of coverage is only sufficient to cover minor collisions; any collision that is serious enough to send you to the hospital will quickly run over the policy limits, typically within the first few minutes of the collision. Nevertheless, as long as a motorist carries this minimum level of coverage, the motorist is meeting their legal obligations. But the minimum level of insurance is insufficient to cover anything more than a minor collision and because of this motorists who do select this minimum level of coverage are termed “underinsured.”

And if you have the misfortune to be hit by an “underinsured” driver, the driver’s insurance policy will likely be insufficient to cover your injuries.  I’ve learned this first hand and in the last couple of months it was reinforced when Scootin’ America, who was raising money and awareness for the children of fallen soldiers by visiting Harley-Davidson dealers across N.A., was injured by an underinsured driver and life-flight to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh.  He’s recovering well!

Most know that your motorcycle liability coverage provides financial protection in case you cause an accident. Comprehensive and collision coverage pay for damage to your motorcycle under various circumstances. But, the question to ask is: “Will you get protection if you are in a serious accident with a driver that has no coverage or is underinsured?”

A good policy can protect motorcycle riders and their families from potential financial disaster.

The good folks over at Reviews.com reached out to me with information they pulled together. They’ve spent six weeks creating a guide to walk riders through finding and choosing a policy, including how to decide how much coverage is necessary, which discounts to take advantage of, and how to stay safer on the road. They found three nationwide options that provided the best all-around coverage. You can see their full process and findings HERE and make your own decision about insurance needs. Their stated goal is to get the research into the hands of people who may find it helpful which I’ve offered to help re-post.

Full Disclosure: I have read through the web site, but have not used this service. I have no advertising relationship with Reviews.com.  I received no compensation from Reviews.com or an insurance provider for posting this information. I’m passing along the insurance advocacy information to help protect motorcycle riders and their families. Reviews.com does have an advertising relationship with some of the insurance offers included on their review page.

Photo courtesy of Reviews.com

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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MC (right) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with Shark Week III Crew

MC (center) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with members from the Shark Week III Crew

According to this recently published survey, Utah has the second best drivers in the country.  Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the compiled results scored every state on the quality of their drivers.

It is apparent to me that whoever conducted that study has never driven in St. George, Utah and they never talked to MC.

Who is MC?

Just a motorcycle enthusiast, from Oregon, who on July 31, 2013 was part of a multi-state group riding through the area attending the Shark Week III motorcycle rally. He had split from the group early that morning and was heading home to attend a friends wedding ceremony.  It was around 7:30 a.m., as he traveled northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  While doing so, there was a left turn yellow light and he was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway. The  first car missed MC before he was hit in the side by a second car also making a left turn on a yellow/red light.  (Note: This intersection is now under construction and will have a flyover to help prevent accidents!)

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Although MC was wearing full protective gear, he had head trauma and the impact left MC with significant injuries to his left leg.  It’s St. George county protocol for trauma patients to be flown directly to University Medical Center in Las Vegas as a matter of course, but MC’s blood loss was so severe due to multiple open fractures, the onsite EMT decision was made to fly him to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  You can read the local newspaper report HERE.  Previous blog posts related to this incident is HERE.

The Sheriff who was on the accident scene (MC was lucid enough to give his cell phone to the officer and had him call) called us and we arrived at the accident within 15 minutes and prior to the life flight landing on scene.  Perhaps an ambulance ride directly to Dixie Regional Medical Center should have occurred, but I won’t second guess or revisit the sequence of events.  In fact, Dixie Regional Medical Center created a recovery video testimonial HERE.

There is an old biker adage that many of you have heard before.  “There are those who have been down and those who are going down.”  It’s often described almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy—a mental process whereby an individual subconsciously creates the belief in the inevitability of that event.  The point is, I don’t buy into it and don’t think of accidents as a right of passage to be a motorcycle enthusiast.  I’ve certainly dumped a dirt bike more times than I care to admit, but I never viewed it as inevitable or part of the hobby—I just made some poor choices.

MC

MC at Bryce Canyon, Utah – 2013

Like many things in life there are inherent dangers with motorcycling.  Risk is part of the package.  An accident can have all sorts of negative repercussions.  And any accident that involves someone you know or is a good riding buddy only amplifies the situation.   From a psychological perspective it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the entire riding group to weigh the risks and rewards of riding and question why do it.  But, I’ve digressed.

The EMT’s put MC on life flight and we helped clear the wreckage from the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  The underinsured driver was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and attempting to beat a red light while not paying attention to the rest of the traffic in an intersection.  The male driver was in his girlfriend’s well-used Honda.  Clearly the vehicle driver penalties in the state of Utah are not proportional to the suffering inflicted onto MC.

MC was in St. George’s Dixie Regional Medical Center for exactly 12 weeks and underwent 12 surgeries before being transported home to Oregon.  In Oregon there were more doctors, more surgeries, more physical therapy and mountains of medical forms.

Five months after the crash, MC reached the point where a fixator was removed from his foot.  And a few months later, May 2014, he underwent his 15th surgery—”de-bulking”—to remove the surplus transplanted muscle tissue from around his ankle.  There’s been a lot written on his path to recovery HERE (warning – graphic images).  The scope of this life-changing accident has been very challenging, but through it all MC remained mostly positive with the help of friends and family. There was also significant outreach from the motorcycle riding community especially the Shark Week III crew who deserves a big shout-out!

Today, a year later,  MC is mobile and self-sufficient.  For the most part, life is returning to a more normal pattern.  Those of us who know him, know that the year has been one of the hardest in MC’s life.  The medical decisions, the money worries and trying to smile every day and be grateful didn’t come easy.  It’s unclear if MC’s best motorcycle riding days are yet to come or if the risk-reward ratio tipped somewhere along the line.  Only he can answer that question.  In reality, it is possible for a motorcyclist to never go down. Ask around. You’ll be surprised how many motorcyclists have never actually been in an accident. Oh sure, they’ve had scary moments, war stories even. But, most have never been down in any kind of a serious way.

The dog days of summer are upon us, and I believe all MC really needs to think about is how much body hair does a guy have to remove from your face before golfing.

This blog post is to mark the 1-year anniversary and to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12 months provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve been awesome and we’re all grateful that MC is doing so well!

Photo’s taken by author and courtesy of MC.  Road map courtesy of UDOT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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MC enjoying the fall weather at home!

MC enjoying the fall weather!

12 surgeries, 12 weeks in the hospital, 12 separate medical billing groups….  12-noon, at home enjoying the fall colors – priceless!

You might recall that back on July 31st (HERE) while attending the Shark Week III rally we learned that a member of our riding group (MC) was hit by a car who was trying to beat a red-light at the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the rally hotel. We arrived on scene to see the paramedics working on MC and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris, gathered up some personal belongings and then rode to the hospital.

MC spent 4 weeks at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, UT in critical care and acute therapy.  There was a continuous debate about how to save the foot.  He was then transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland where he spent another 8 weeks enduring various forms of surgeries in an effort to avoid amputation of his foot.

At home and something to smile about...

At home–something to truly smile about…

The awesome news is that MC was discharged from Legacy Emanuel hospital on October 23, 2013.  Exactly 12 weeks from the date of the accident in St. George.  And, it was a gorgeous northwest day for MC to absorb the fall beauty and take a deep breath of fresh air— the first time in 6 weeks that MC was able to go outside!  He has endure more than most all of us will ever know in an effort to save his foot.  You’re an inspiration MC!!

There are numerous new challenges and MC is working through each of them (finances, crutches, stairs, showering, etc.) now that the hospital chapter of his journey is mainly closed.  MC’s significant other continues to provide engaging and detailed status updates on her blog and a Facebook page was created for extended friends and interested individuals to follow progress.

Being home is an incredible boost to the human spirit, but it’s not the end of MC’s recovery.  There will be another 12 weeks before he can truly put his entire foot “in the dirt” and before that it will require another surgery to remove that bulky frame on his foot along with physical therapy.

However, I wanted to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12+ weeks provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve all been awesome and I want to personally thank you for your kind outreach.

Photo’s courtesy of S.B.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Idaho Praraie

Somewhere in Idaho…

Five friends, 2200 miles, 15 fuel stops, and Ten Sleep Canyon – priceless!

Sure it’s a nod to MasterCard, but priceless experiences are better when shared and now that I’m back from some extended work travel that is my intent.

It was a sunny Saturday (August 24) and the leather-clad group rolled east like Pacific Northwest thunder to where more than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts were expected for the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary festivities in Milwaukee.  

Looking down on Jackson, WY

Looking down on Jackson, WY

The group had laid out a casual route plan, but embracing total spontaneity of the open road to see where ever the wind might take us wasn’t really in the cards for this trip.  We did eat when we got hungry, slept when we got tired and would drink refreshments when the bikes were parked at a motel for the night.

Three of us in this group had made a northern journey in 2008 for the 105th Anniversary (HERE), but on this trip we decided to take a more southern route.  That meant a lot more freeway travel and covering some very familiar road for at least the first 500 miles.

Pano of Grand Teton's

Pano of the Grand Teton’s

Boise, Idaho was like déjà vu all over again, (weren’t we just here?) and we must have been thinking about that Toby Keith song, I Love This Bar & Grill because we landed at the Reef restaurant again.  We met a couple Canadian float plane pilots at one of the pub stops and shared some interesting stories.

Grand Teton's

Grand Teton’s

The next morning we departed Boise after a McD’s power breakfast and headed toward Jackson, WY.   We initially planned to take Highway 20, through a desolate place known for the National Reactor Testing and then maybe a quick stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Climbing down a lava tube sounded like fun, but it was another incredibly hot day.  Too hot to be walking around on black lava in motorcycle gear so we took the faster route and continued on I-84/I-15 to Idaho Falls.  

Heading toward Ten Sleep

On Hwy 26 riding toward Ten Sleep

From there we rode out on Highway 26 to Swan Valley then rode on Highway 31 (Pine Creek Rd) through the Targhee National Forest into Victor, ID where we picked up Highway 33/22 (Teton Pass Hwy).  This road took us through the western end of the Teton Pass and southern part of Teton Valley.  There were some great views!

We overnighted in Jackson, WY., which has a cowboy theme about the place.  Downtown has a daily gunfight and there are a lot of shops to spend $$ in if you like the tourist thing.  We had dinner at the Rendezvous Bistro which had outstanding food and to die for Meatloaf!  Strongly recommend the place if you’re in the area.

The next morning we headed out on Highway 191/89 and admired the majestic mountain view of the Grand Teton’s.  The park gets over 4M visitors each year, but the traffic on this day was light.  We stopped for a couple of photo ops, but continued on.  We were leaving the “high-country” and at Morlan, we took Highway 26 east and rode toward Riverton then on to Thermopolis.  There was a sign when we entered that said it was “the world’s largest hot spring” and is situated in a state park.  We stopped for lunch at a local dive that was having issues with the grill vent.  The entire place smelled like an open BBQ, but the burgers went down well.

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

We continued on to Ten Sleep Canyon.  Once a little known backwater, Ten Sleep is today a premier limestone climbing area in Wyoming.  

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

At Worland we rode out on Highway 16.  It’s called The Sweet 16 for being the easiest route to Yellowstone Park due to the gentle curves and lower grades.  This 92 mile corridor is a great ride and should be added to your bucket list.  From the town of Ten Sleep, US 16 leaves agricultural land and heads east along Ten Sleep Creek and through a spectacular canyon.  The canyon is filled with vivid colored limestone and dolomite rock walls and the cliffs take on a life of their own with shapes and faces.  The road continues into the Big Horn Mountains, which offers up lush grasslands, alpine meadows and glacier lakes.  The road crosses over the Powder River Pass at an elevation of 9,666 feet and then makes a steep descent (6-7%) into Buffalo.  There we rode on I-90 east and overnighted in Gillette. 

This riding day was truly a highlight of the road trip in my view and one that is most memorable.  It was filled with lots of mountain eye-candy, painted desert and Wyoming wonders.

The 110th Anniversary Homecoming – Part 2 (HERE).

Post Script:  I neglected to include a shout out to MC who couldn’t make this trip.  He and Sherry were excited to make the journey “home” and planned to ride out and join our group in Milwaukee.  Unfortunately MC was hit by a driver (HERE) who was trying to beat a red light while attending Shark Week III in St. George, Utah in early August.  We missed you MC and all of us are looking forward to future rides together!  You can follow MC’s recovery progress HERE or on his blog HERE.

Photos taken by author. 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Mac Shadow

Mac Shadow

Seven a.m. Wednesday (September 24th) morning. With the taste of coffee still fresh in my mouth, I finish suiting up.

Tucking the t-shirt into the jeans under leather chaps, pulling the black-leather jacket over an old 2002 long sleeve t-shirt with a Street V logo on the front, I quietly open the garage.

Outside, the autumn air is cool, but no rain like the forecast predicted! Sure it’s cloudy, but the moisture has yet to arrive so, the hard bags will hold the rain gear a while longer.

Mounting the bike, I hit the starter button, and that Harley rumble fills the neighborhood. Without a hesitation, I kick it into gear and I’m off, heading for the open road,….then it dawn’s on me that I forgot to stop at the bank yesterday to get cash for the trip. I’m not off!

A quick ATM stop and now I’m really off…leaving the “burbs” behind. Out on I-5, the white reflectors rush past at a solid 55 mph, and I feel the tensions of the work week slip away. The kiss-ups, backslapping and glad-handing, telephone yelling, busted deals, office politics, near misses, petty squabbles, seemingly life-and-death decisions, employee theatrics…all gone, blown away by the wind in my face and the moment.

Lakeview is today’s destination and I’m in “big twin” heaven, easy riding, and it’s all mine: the machine, the highway, the distant rolling hills.

Oregon Route 31

Oregon Route 31

I met the eight member posse at the Troutdale Flying J and we headed east on I-84.  My initial plan of following the ‘shortest-distant-between-two-points’ theory didn’t work out because rain moved up the valley and a decision to avoid wet riding meant getting to the east side of Mt. Hood as quickly as possible.

At the Dalles we stopped for gas and a “biker biscuit” and then rode south on US 197 – re; the Dalles California Highway.  We crested the Tygh Grade Summit and then proceeded through Dufur.  About a half-hour outside of Maupin the air became brown and visible due to forest fires off in the west.  We dropped down to about 900 feet to the Deschutes River at Maupin in a dramatic winding river crossing and then climbed the Criterion Summit at over 3,300 feet.  We intersected with US 97 at Shaniko Junction and proceeded to Bend for a lunch stop with the “Starz“.

We intersected with Oregon Route 31 south of La Pine and headed east.  The highway is a 2-lane, rural road for its entire length.  The thrill of leaning into a corner and twisting the throttle out–straightening up the bike until you lean back upright and roll into the straightaway–is as much fun now as it was on any rickety 1970s two-stroke with balding knobby tires back in the day. 

OR 31 is part of the Outback Scenic Byway and goes between La Pine and just past Lakeview at the California border. It passes multiple natural attractions like Fort Rock State Park, Hole-in-the-Ground and Summer Lake.  This ~150 mile route starts in the Deschutes National Forest, through stands of lodgepole and ponderosa and we got to experience the beauty of the rural country and the remains of volcanic activity.  It’s a landscape of marsh, mountain, rim rock and sage-scented air.

We arrived at the Interstate 8 motel in Lakeview with time to watch the sunset and wipe the windshield free of our bug collection.   We ate dinner at the El Aguila Real Mexican food restaurant and enjoyed post dinner refreshments at the Eagles Nest Lounge…a local “elk-hunter” bar.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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