Riding the Harley home on Rte. 8 after visiting my mother Monday afternoon when the car ahead decided to brake hard and turn left — without warning or a signal. Too much oncoming traffic and no place to swerve, so I locked up the rear tire in a panic stop.

The rear end of the bike started to slide to the right. Not good. The rules of motorcycle riding say you shouldn’t release the rear brake in a slide but I had no choice so I let off both brakes. The bike wobbled but straightened and I applied the brakes again and slowed to a stop.

I had taken my eyes off the road ahead of me for an instant because a van looked like it would pull out in my path.  When I looked back ahead the car in front was stopped. No signal but it apparently planned to turn left into Whitetail outfitters. I came to a stop less than two feet from its rear bumper.

I was lucky. Two friends who rode with a group of us to Shatley Springs in North Carolina recently were not.  The group of about 20 bikes returned to the area via the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of us left the Parkway at Rte. 8 and headed into Floyd but Kevin & Sandy Spangler, who live in Buchanan, stayed on the Parkway to ride home.

A deer jumped out in front of their bike and they went down. Sandy suffered bruises and a hand injury and was treated and released at the hospital but Kevin remains there with multiple broken ribs, a busted collarbone, road rash and internal injuries.

All it takes is an instant.

UPDATE: Kevin Spangler died from his injuries on Saturday, October 22.