Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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Honda In A River

Post Date - 17 May 2018

By Bill

On a Sunday ride I tried to cross a ford when the water level was at the red
arrow in the picture. Bike and rider (me :-) ) where swept into the river.

I got as far as the second tree on the left and grabbed an overhanging branch and got to the bank as I cannot swim, especially with motocross boots, crash helmet and a rucksack. The bike was nowhere to be seen.

The house owner next to the river let me walk his garden but the bike was still not spotted. He rang me on Monday and said the river had dropped about a metre but he could not see the bike.

A ford with an arrow on it showing where the river had swelled to
This picture was taken on the Monday and after 24hrs the water level has dropped. Somewhere in the river is a CRF 230. 

So on Monday using a long pole I located the bike's position but it was still not visible. With a strong rope and a homemade grappling iron I hooked the bike and pulled it close enough to the bank to attach a second rope. With the two ropes and using the posts and tree as anchor points I slowly dragged it to the bank and onto its wheels. I dragged it to the ford but could not lift it out - a water filled seat is very top heavy.

I backed the car down, tied the ropes to the tow bar, gritted my teeth and dragged out the poor drowned Honda. I loaded it onto the trailer. A local dog walker watching said "have you just got that bike out of the river?" I could not resist and replied "You should of been here last week, I caught a 650."

Locals tell me a car and a 4x4 have been swept in on other occasions, they have asked the council to erect a fence.

Thanks to Greg for letting me ride his bike with him pillion to get back to the house and for volunteering to use his diving gear to find it if my fishing method had not worked. 

The air box was completely filled with gravel. The lighting switch and starter relay were burned out. Other than that with lots of cleaning and oil changes and plenty of WD40 it lives to fight another day and I am still using it years later.

Two Morals from this tale:
1) Walk it before you ride it, even if you have 40 years off-road experience.
2) Buy a Honda - they are built to survive, even if they do not float!


If you've got a fabulous motorcycling tale like Bill's you'd like to share then contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-

A couple of years ago I was ambling around the Warwickshire countryside on the V-Strom I had at the time when I came across this ford (see map below). It was quite shallow and as I'm used to negotiating the ford just round the corner from my house I happily set off - 5 mph or so, first gear, clutch slipping slightly. Half way across the bike just dropped like a stone.

It turned out the surface was covered with slimy green algae - it was a slippery as black ice. An onlooker who kindly helped me up with the bike ended up flat on his back and covered with the slimy stuff which probably made him disinclined to offer similar help in the future!

Apart from some grazes to the fairing and the end broken off the clutch lever the Suzuki was fine.

17/5/2018 8:58:04 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
It's not just bikes that get swept away - this is our local ford - the car was swept under the footbridge.....

Every time the river floods this sort of thing happens. It is a great source of fun to the local residents.

17/5/2018 8:59:39 AM UTC
Bill said :-
Its he strength of the water flow that pushed me sideways to together with the very slippery green coating providing no grip. Mine was not helped by over a metre unfenced drop off the edge of the ford.
Strata Florida in the winter can be good entertainment as you cross the river on multiple occasions but great fun in the summer :-)

Summer Strata Florida
17/5/2018 9:40:49 AM UTC
Bill said :-
"this is our local ford "

Are you sure Ian that looks more like a Nissan
17/5/2018 10:04:22 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
If you trawl WAAAAY back through this website you'll see a couple of posts about fording. I learnt very swiftly that many fords have a splendid layer of green slime that in terms of traction is akin to oil covered teflon.

I have baulked at several crossings due to slime and flow. There's been a couple that I've not ever dared to walk let alone ride. There's one Garstang way which is actually a river and the entrance to the ford is about 10 metres downstream from the exit. Nah...
17/5/2018 8:18:25 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
I have another way to do it :-)

(DRZ400, Rumania, miscalculating deepness, stunt of the day, made 10 people laugh)

17/5/2018 8:20:52 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Is this turning into a competition to see who's done the most ridiculous river crossing on a motorcycle? If so this is one I'll be happy not to win.

Must say Henrik - that is blooming funny!
17/5/2018 8:47:52 PM UTC
Henrik said :-
If a competition, I am already the winner :-)

Lex-river of that day was: "never cross a river where it is most narrow"

After having some warm soup, some dry clothes, and a few hours to use all my brain-capacity, finally it became clear to my why the narrow spot is also the deepest spot: its becourse the stream/flow is constant, obviously,. argg
17/5/2018 10:26:57 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah, science Henrik is very brutal.
17/5/2018 10:37:44 PM UTC

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