Submitted by Joe Boyle.
The tale that follows may remind you of an episode from Rod Serling’s famous TV show, The Twilight Zone.
While my entire story, except for one paragraph, is true, it took 3000 words to tell. A 13-minute read is too long for my busy readers. To respect my readers’ time, I am splitting my story into four chapters.
- Click both the Twilight Zone link above – and this one – for two different TV show theme-song introductions. I expect you will find the historical short films entertaining.
- While not particularly graphic, this story includes a medical injury inventory list and a detailed photo of my post-crash helmet. Both are incorporated to support the story. If either item may cause you discomfort, consider not reading this adventure “masterpiece” or at least skipping past the paragraph and photo.
On the morning of June 2, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska my friend, Tom Canary, and I fired up two BMW K-700 GS motorcycles to begin our trip with MotoQuest, a motorcycle tour company. Our destination; the Arctic Ocean.
For the past 20 years, Tom and I have ridden motorcycles on what we call our BAMR. The acronym BAMR stands for Big Annual Motorcycle Ride. The second word of the acronym, BAMR, has been changed to ANNUAL to fit the family-friendly high standards of The Suburban Times.
While riding motorcycles can be a risky business, riding in Alaska is even more dangerous. Hazards while riding to the Arctic Ocean include bear attacks, moose strikes, mosquitoes the size of drones, lodging problems, gasoline shortages, and unpredictable road conditions. Let’s not forget the weather. In Alaska, it can snow in August.
For most Americans, Alaska is a remote place they will never visit. Of those who live in Alaska, only 1% reach the Arctic Ocean.
TWILIGHT ZONE SCENE 1
Most of us have attended events where we learned a nurse was a part of our group. Crystal Fessenden, one of the riders on our MotoQuest motorcycle tour, introduced herself as a registered nurse with 27 years of experience working in hospital emergency rooms. Upon learning that I thought to myself, “Great! Someone might need a nurse, but of course, not me.”
Actually as I think about it, during the five years following my April Fool’s Day, 2013, retirement, the Grim Reaper has made three serious attempts to snatch me out of this life. Looking back, a nurse helped me recover from all three tragic events. I better stop saying, “nurse, not me.”
Early the morning, of June 2, thirteen motorcycles along with a big truck and trailer, which served as our sag wagon, left Anchorage and started moving north towards the Dalton Highway also known as the Haul Road. Over a four day period, we traveled to Fairbanks, Coldfoot, Deadhorse, and Prudhoe Bay; ending on the beach of the Arctic Ocean. According to the magazine, Road & Track, “the 240 miles between Deadhorse and Coldfoot is the longest stretch of unserviced road on the continent.” The absence of humans is striking.
TWILIGHT ZONE SCENE 2
While our ride to the Arctic Ocean was spectacular, my return trip became a near-death experience.
As my BMW cut through the cold arctic air, the speed and temperature produced a phenomenon known as ice-fog. Ice-fog generated a vision blocking layer of ice on the face shield of our helmets. Using my glove, I was able to scrape a peephole to combat the recurring layer of vision blocking ice.
As I hurtled along at 70 miles an hour behind our MotoQuest guide, the road surface abruptly changed to mud and one-inch ball bearing rocks. My handlebars shook side to side violently as the front tire fought forward into the ball bearing rocks.
It only took a moment before the laws of physics got the best of me, causing me to fly over the handlebars like a scene out of Twilight Zone. WhenTom witnessed me flying over the handlebars, he instantly thought of that old bromide, “Look Ma, no hands.”
What thought was going through my mind as I flew over the handlebars? “Hey, call me Evel Knievel.”
After separating from the motorcycle, my body landed on my upper left side with a head strike into the gravel and tumbled for several hundred feet.
When you think about it, I should not have to pay for the damaged motorcycle because I was not riding the bike when it crashed.
I managed to live after my 70 mph motorcycle crash, but how? Does Nurse Crystal Fessenden have anything to do with my survival? What is Tom Canary’s role?
For the answers to these questions and more, be sure to read Westside Story – The Twilight Zone – Almost Dead in Deadhorse, Alaska Part II, coming to a computer or smartphone near you.