Here's one for ya:
I was traveling east of Tucson heading for Bisbee / Tombstone. It was late spring, I'd spent the night in Tucson and was enjoying the cool, clear, early morning air with a belly full of breakfast. The freeway was almost empty. I was riding at a comfortably relaxed pace, it felt good not to be hurried along by LA traffic. It seemed to be the perfect start to what I expected would be a great day of riding.
I came up behind two semis. The freeway out there is only two lanes per side and I went left to pass. I was in no hurry and was probably passing with a speed differential of 10mph or less. The first semi was towing a load of new container dollies and the rider in me slipped away for a few seconds as the accountant in me contemplated how they would account for the mileage on the one new dolly that carrying all the others. It was simply a moment of mental exercise on an otherwise untaxing stretch of highway.
At some point though while I was lost in my thoughts the lane started to get narrower. The semi I was passing had started moving left to pass the semi in front of him. I was a few feet behind the tractor’s rear wheels, too far back to just goose it and get past him and too far up to just grab the binders and let him go in front of me. I was in no-man’s land and he bullied me off onto the inside shoulder, 18 inches wide and full of junk, at about 80mph. I let off the throttle and let him go praying he wouldn’t also take a little extra room to get around his big buddy, the trailer was already so close. It seemed like an eternity as I dodged garbage on the inside shoulder before he got past me. I finally inhaled as I moved back onto the pavement and took the next exit to catch my breath.
Looking back the mistakes were mine. I was in the left side of the lane as I passed the semi, I could see the driver in his outside mirror and I simply assumed he would see me as well. Obviously he didn’t. Maybe he too was enjoying a pleasant morning in light traffic and didn’t notice me as I came up from behind, an easy miss. And I was passing him at a pace that was something short of decisive. I had made two mistakes; first assuming he would see me and then spending too much time in the danger zone. I got bit but was fortunate in the outcome.
Lessons learned. Now when passing a big vehicle like that I hang back until the coast is clear well ahead of them in my lane and then move past them at a pace just shy of urgency. Once was enough.