In 2007 WetLeather held the Great Pacific Northwest Dryside Gather in a campground next to Eagle Lake, California.  It was just outside Susanville, in Lassen County.  It was a gorgeous site with superb winding roads nearby!  A good time was had by all, although we did seem to be a bit accident-prone this year. 

As you’ll see below, I was one of the weekend casualties.  I had been riding well but when we came up to a stretch of road where the side dropped away precipitously to a river far below, I tensed up badly and, well, forgot how to ride.  Although I told myself to relax, and just look into the turn and push down that handlebar, on the very next turn I freaked, grabbed a handful of front brake, and skidded into the gravel on the edge of the road.  I hit the dirt, luckily without any major injury (I had a bit of rash).  My bike, however, disappeared over the edge!

After I had a chance to rest a bit, I rode back to the Gather on the back of Michael Pierce’s Tiger (a nice bike by the way, and Michael was a great rider).  After we got there, we had planned to get Kenny Matelski’s truck and retrieve my bike from down on the cliff (where we eventually found it.)  However, when everyone was ready, they told me that they had enough guys to get the bike and that I should stay put.  So, the following part of the story is brought to you by Dave Morgan, who reported:

“Then, at about 16:00, Michael Pierce comes to me and says that Sachi

Wilson had an accident with her bike and that it went down the side of a

cliff. Luckily for Sachi, she managed to stay up on the road and

suffered only minor injuries to her shoulder, helmet and gloves.

Michael, Kenny Matelski, Sachi and Dave McDonald had been out for a

ride on one of the greater motorcycle roads in Northern California. What

happened isn't entirely clear, but all four of them made it back to

camp, minus Sachi's bike. Michael said he needed help getting Sachi's

bike off the cliff and asked if I'd go along. I said, "sure" not knowing

what I was getting myself into, but knowing that what had to be done,

had to be done. Besides, I was into the hard cider enough at that point

that if Michael handed me a pistol and said, ‘go kill Martin Golding,’

I'd probably have done that too.

“Kenny hitches up the trailer to his truck and the three of us pile in.

Actually, it was more like wedge in, as I was in the back ‘seat’ of his

truck. It's at this point that I find out the scene of the crash is 90

miles away, up a long twisty road. Too late to back out, I settle down

for the ride. Along the way, I heard the stories about every car Michael

had ever owned, and nearly every place he lived in the Air Force. Kenny

did manage to get a word or two in edgewise and it was an entertaining

ride up the hill. I have no idea where we were, despite the fact that

Kenny has a GPS hooked to a laptop, mounted in his truck, which is

really more like a modern police patrol car with every electronic gadget

known to man.

“We finally arrive at the crash site. The bike is not too far down. About

25 or 30 feet, but sitting precariously on a bush, not unlike the one

Beetle Bailey often finds himself hanging from in the comic strip. The

cliff drops down at about 80 degrees and continues on to the bottom of the canyon, which must be another 900 or so feet down.

“The plan is for one of us to go down to the bike with a rope, tie the

rope to the bike while another one of us uses Kenny's truck to pull the

bike up onto the road.

“Guess who got to go down the cliff and tie the rope to the bike?

“So, making sure the rope was securely tied to the bumper of the truck, I donned my gloves and made my way down to the bike. I got the line

secured to the front fork, climbed back up the rope to the top of the

cliff while Michael pulled the bike up with the truck. It went

perfectly. No problem!

“Then, I had to go back down on the rope and retrieve all the little

plastic bits and Sachi's GPS which had all come off in the wreck. I

managed to find them all, but left the plastic radiator shroud. It was a

little too far out of reach, and one casualty for the night seemed to be

enough. We got the bike loaded onto the trailer, tied down and we were

off. The whole thing took less than ½ an hour. We got back to camp about 20:00. Dinner had been served, but the dinner crew saved us some. Food never tasted so good. We had salmon, chicken and I don't remember what else, but it was all good.”

Michael took pics of the recovery, and I’ve posted those here. 

Needless to say I cannot thank Dave, Michael, and Kenny (who drove the bike and me all the way to San Diego, too) enough. 


Eagle Lake, California