Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie

Back in 1967, I was enrolled in the local community college, Adirondack Community College.  It had only been open for a few years and I was a student there trying to avoid the draft and being sent to Vietnam.  When I was in high school, my plan was to join the U.S. Marine Corps like my older brother had done and then become a N.Y. State Trooper.  Yes, I was pretty different back then in high school.  I was supportive of the war in Vietnam and I was very ignorant of life in general, I suppose.

An event back then that made me more aware...of life, in particular, and of the thin line between life and death, was a motorcycle accident.  In May, 1967, I was with a group of my friends at their apartment in Hudson Falls, NY, studying for a final exam.  What made this Friday night particularly different was that we weren't drinking.  I would say that, in my undergraduate college career, this may have been the ONLY weekend night that my friends and I didn't go out drinking or drink at somebody's apartment.  We pooled our money, got some Bugles snacks and some soda.  The rest of the night, we sat around studying for the exam.  Later in the evening, after we'd finished studying, we were sitting around the apartment, talking, watching TV, and other friends had come over.  Still, no beer or any alcohol (or drugs...we weren't even aware of that stuff then) was consumed that night...by any of us.  Should have been a sign that something was not right.

Soon, all the places to sleep were taken...the couches, the bedrooms, etc., so, my friend, Bill Hoffman, invited me to spend the night at his apartment that was closer to Ft. Edward...just down the road, really.  Well, off we went on Bill's Honda 160 motorcycle into something that we never expected.  Here's a photo of that motorcycle:

The back part of the seat and the rear wheel were demolished in the crash.  That's where  I was sitting.
Bill had gotten a helmet from his brother, who was a U.S. Air Force pilot, and had just finished painting it a metal flake burgundy.  I got to wear it.  Thankfully.  As we approached the driveway to the house where Bill's apartment was, he slowed down and, before he could make the turn into the driveway, we were hit by a drunk guy, who was driving a 1961 Cadillac...going in excess of 100mph...as he was being chased by the Hudson Falls Police.  He'd run the traffic light in town...there was only one.  He was a race car driver and was putting the pedal to the metal, as we used to say then.  Bill managed to stay with the motorcycle while I went flying through the air, flipping over backwards in reverse fashion...heels over head vs. head over heels... repeatedly because the fender on the rear tire under the part of the seat that I was sitting on had ripped through the back of my right leg, thus throwing me off, my body flipping over in reverse.  Weird feeling but I remember every moment of that flight through the air... it was all in slow motion.  That helmet...it saved my life, literally.  A big chunk had been knocked out of the back of the helmet.  Would have been my head.  Long story short, I ended up being taken to the Glens Falls Hospital and was admitted.  Initially, the doctor wasn't sure he'd be able to save my leg, but, fortunately, I didn't have to have the leg amputated.  While laying around the hospital for 5 weeks, the song, "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie was released.  Because of when it was released, it has always reminded me of my time spent at Glens Falls Hospital.  Scott died yesterday at the age of 73 from Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  Here's a bit of info about Scott's life (real name: Phillip Wallach Blondheim) from Wikipedia...

So, here's the song...and I'll keep the memories and not bore you with any more details.  Here's Scott McKenzie, back in the day, doing "San Francisco"...it was written by John Phillips of The Mamas and Papas.

Here's Scott McKenzie, later in life, obviously...singing "San Francisco"...voice hasn't changed much over the years.