November 22nd, 2005


Back from Ragtime Festival and Big Car Crash

oog, my legs are sore. It's partly from the fact that I only ride the motorcycle once every three weeks now, just into town, so the sudden long trip to the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento and back this weekend was more taxing than it usually would be.

Partly, however, I think it's because of running as fast as I could in all 20-odd pounds of biker gear Saturday night after standing in a parking lot alone watching a car careen off an on-ramp and into a tree.

Well, sort of. I was sitting astride my motorcycle in the parking lot far from the hotel (I had arrived late that day so had to park pretty far away) at about 1:30 a.m. after the after-hours jam and general goof-off session (which involved shenanigans like singing "Dead Skunk" and a naughty version of "Shake That Thing"). Being that it was 40 degrees out and the bike is air-cooled, it was going to take some time for it to get warmed up. Then I heard this noise, like tires sliding at 70 mph. I could see lights on the onramp of cars going by, and the sound traveled at the same speed. Then I saw a dust cloud beneath the cars, and watched the dust cloud until with a smash it was stopped from hitting a truck trailer by the presence of a eucalyptus tree.

When the dust cleared, there sat a car upside-down about 20 yards from me. I turned off my bike and put it on the kickstand. I was the only person around. I ran up to the car and yelled through my helmet and balaclava if anyone was hurt, but got no response. There appeared to be no motion indicating anyone trying to get out, either, so I turned and ran back to the hotel -- eventually becoming simply a brisk, out-of-breath walk. The front desk of the hotel was on the opposite side so I had to hoof it quite a ways.

Finally, I was able to get the front desk to call 911 and get the fire department on its way. I returned to the scene and on the freeway side of the fence were two motorists who had been in one car and a motorcyclist who had been hit by the overturned vehicle (but he didn't crash, luckily). They said the car was empty, suggesting that perhaps the driver knew that people were going to be unkind considering that this car had cut between two cars to get onto an on-ramp at probably in excess of 90 mph. Later, further witnesses arrived saying that this car had hit another car which crashed (and apparently an ambulance was required on that scene) about a quarter of a mile earlier.

Given that the car had hit a tree at the speed that I saw, and had overturned, the fire department, police and highway patrol began looking around for the driver who may have been thrown from the vehicle. I told all three departments that it's possible the driver was thrown into the empty gravel-truck trailer which the car would have hit if not for the tree. However, none of them bothered to look in there. They continued to look all over the debris field (which went beyond this trailer), in the tree itself, elsewhere on the embankment, etc. They never found the driver.

The car was turned over and they found two purses, each with IDs in them, so if the driver isn't in that trailer, I imagine they found her somewhere, unless the vehicle just had been stolen.

But yeah, now my legs, particularly the left, is all stiff and sore. These boots aren't made for running... and my legs aren't made for carrying all that extra weight! I really should weigh myself in full gear sometime to see just how much it all weighs. It's a lot, that's for sure.

I would have been on that same on-ramp just moments later, so I was pretty lucky really. Anyway, I wrote a bit about the ragtime festival itself, and included a sound recording, at