Ashen faces as unavoidable crash unfolds

FROM the moment I saw my mate turn the fuel tap to 'on', I could guess the calamity that was about to unfold.

I'd been on my old BSA Bantam (mentioned last week) trying to get some reluctant cattle from a lucerne patch to the dairy, when the bike started playing up and eventually stopped.

Disgusted, I threw it to the ground and jumped on it, bending the gear stick in the process, and continued the muster on foot.

Once finished, I grabbed a tractor, a mate and some rope to tow the beast home.

We tied the bike to the tractor with about 10m of free rope and I started towing.

We just got from the paddocks onto a quiet road, when I saw him reach down to the fuel tap. I'd warned him not to try to start it, but do 15-year-olds ever listen?

I heard the bike fire into life and the colour drained immediately from my mate's face, as he realised it was stuck in gear with the throttle open (dirt got stuck in there when it was tossed to the ground), there was no clutch and no off switch.

Although not a speedy machine, it was far too quick for the tractor and everything appeared in slow motion, as he overtook the tractor and, as they say, reached the end of his rope and came crashing to the road.

In truth, the result could have been much worse. He was in shorts, t-shirt and thongs, with no helmet. Apart from rope burn, where it had cut across him, and some abrasions, there were no serious injuries.

But after that experience, I never had the heart to ask for his assistance again.

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Topics:  columns farm life rural lifestyle

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