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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

What I am - part II

In my last post I mentioned that I am naturally longwinded. As if proving my point, I started to tell the story of the beginnings of my motorcycle obsession but then had to cut myself off because I had reached the self-imposed 500-word limit for posts.

In that post I told of my doing poorly in high school and posted, too, a picture of a 1985 Honda VFR, with the caption "No Fat Chicks." It's a picture and caption that doesn't make sense in that post because they don't have the context of this story:

As summer grew closer in my senior year of high school, all my friends were full of thoughts and ambitions about what they would be doing after graduation - what amazing and far-away colleges they would be attending and all the incredible things they would be doing. Whereas my head was filled with the increasingly impossible-to-deny realisation that I was going nowhere. I wasn't going to graduate and I felt awful.

It was sometime during all this that I found myself chatting to one of the guys I worked with at the local supermarket. He had a white Honda motorcycle that was very much his pride and joy. I'm afraid I don't remember exactly what kind of Honda motorcycle it was. He told me, but it was just a slur of letters and numbers to me. I remember, though, that it was a 1985 model and on the tank he had placed a large sticker that read "No Fat Chicks," which, to a Midwestern suburban teenage boy in the 1990s, was the height of wit.

This guy was cool*. His bike was cool*. A kind of cool that I felt easily superseded the uncoolness of failing to graduate high school. I decided then that I would get my motorcycle license as proof to myself that I really could do something if I put my mind to it. I bought a helmet and gloves, threw on my all-leather letterman jacket, and enrolled in a rider training course. By the end of the summer, I had earned my motorcycle classification and in the process built up the confidence to push hard and finish high school. Just a semester after all my friends had done so, I, too, went to college.

That was more than 18 years ago. And strangely, I never again rode a motorcycle. Life happened, as they say. Minnesota is a snowy and icy region that can be a tricky place to ride as much as eight months out of the year. Money was always tight. And eventually I married a woman who swore she would leave me if I ever got on a bike. Up until a few months ago I would have thought the desire to ride a motorcycle was in me long dead.

In fact, it was just lying dormant all that time...

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*Not really. There is nothing cool about a "No Fat Chicks" sticker.

Comments

  1. Glad to hear your getting a bike! I'm getting my first this year as well in MN. Sounds great to enjoy summer on a bike. Would like to move somewhere where I could ride it more often though. What kind of bike are you planning to get?

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  2. Well, having seen some of the motovloggers that ride through the winter in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City I can see how one might be able to extend the life of their riding with good kit. With good clothing and a steely disposition, I can imagine it would be possible to ride in Minnesota from late-March to mid-November. As I say, though, you'd have to be pretty tough against the elements and be a pretty good rider to overcome issues like sand or ice on the roads.

    I have dreams of being a really good rider, and I think the best way to do that is to start small. So, I'm looking to get a 250. That's the sort of thing that gets scoffed at by a lot of US riders, but I think that's because they're confusing a bike with a penis -- both go between your legs, but a bike doesn't really say anything about my manhood. Indeed, I often think some Harley riders are compensating.

    Anyhoo, if I were in the US I'd be seriously considering a Misfit from Cleveland Cyclewerks. Here, I am torn between a Honda CBR250, a Suzuki Inazuma 250, or a Hyosung GV250. Once I am 100-percent confident on a 250, I'd want to move up to something like a Triumph America, and, eventually, a Victory Judge (Victory bikes are owned by Polaris -- a Minnesota company).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Man reading your blog is bringing back some memories, I am a fellow underachiever. I wasn't going to be allowed to graduate because I had missed something like 40 days of school my senior year. The only reason I graduated is my history teacher stuck up for me, so they let me graduate but I wasn't allowed to walk or be part of the ceremony lol.

    I know what you're going through right now, I had to wait several years between getting the motorcycle bug and getting my first real bike. I was 14 and we were visiting our motherland (first generation immigrant) for the purpose of picking up my older brother who had been estranged from my mother and I for 10 years courtesy of the US immigration system. We were spending 3 months there and let me tell you for a 14 year old even a exotic 3rd world country gets boring real fast. Luckily my older brother had a beat up old Kawasaki he used to ride around and he was nice enough to let me have it.

    I spent a few weeks just doing laps on the bike, first inside the courtyard of our house and then eventually just around the tiny streets surrounding the house. Teenaged bravado being what it is I started begging my mother to let me ride the bike around the city. She of course said no, but I was persistent and annoying and after proving to my brother that I was capable by riding around the city with him on the back seat. I was set free on my own. This was literally the best summer of my young life, however I wasn't old enough to drive in the US nor did I have enough money for a motorcycle of any kind. It would be almost another 4 years before I had another bike, and I lived those 4 years in a fever dream of bike magazines, saving money from shitty jobs, and begging my friends to let me ride their dirt bikes.

    I know this is an old post and you eventually got your bike which makes reading through all these old ones so much better :)

    ReplyDelete

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