Skip to main content

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…

Busted

"So what arrived in the post for you today?" Jenn asked as I showered.

Standing there naked (sorry to give you that visual image) I felt especially vulnerable.

"They're Kevlar jeans," I said. "They were only £25. Probably crap, since all the other prices I see for them are upward of £100, but, hey: £25."

That's right, Chris. Emphasise the price. Slowly, slowly.

I had bought the jeans off eBay a few days before. When they arrived, I made the decision to leave them and their packaging on the bed, where Jenn could see them. She has eased her attitude toward motorcycles and even makes an effort to look interested –– or, at least, bite her tongue –– if I talk about them.

My stated plan, once I earn my license, is to test ride as many bikes as possible –– to allow me the chance to ride a motorcycle without having to buy one (1). Ownership is the ultimate goal, of course, but that won't come for a time. Jenn has come so far as to roughly support this idea and has asked: "When do you think you'll first get a chance to test ride a motorbike? Are you excited?"

But underlying such a scheme is the truth that I will need to sport my own gear. And inevitably that requires Jenn's knowledge of its existence. I've had a helmet for a while now, but haven't really had the guts to tell her about it; I've kept it hidden in the wardrobe.

The purchase of a not-too-frivolously priced pair of Kevlar jeans seemed the perfect way to ease her toward acceptance. In March, the month of my birthday, I was pretty certain she wouldn't protest my spending £25 on something. Indeed, had they been a £50 pair of regular jeans from the Gap she wouldn't blink an eye. This, I felt, was a brilliant plan. A cunning scheme. A winning strategy.

"I see you also have a helmet," she said.

Oh, hell.

For a tiny moment I was standing, naked, in a vacuum of time and space. Fortunately, I had for a while been bracing myself for the possibility of getting caught. I had already decided the best way forward in such a situation was straight ahead: nonchalant, matter-of-fact. I took a breath.

"I do indeed," I said, trying to sound as I might had she commented on something as obvious as my having feet.

There was silence on the other side of the shower curtain. She was letting me suffer. It struck me suddenly that almost certainly she had found the helmet long ago, that she was aware of this blog, and had been biding her time, allowing my guilt to escalate, before taking one perfectly aimed jab. My wife is a devilishly clever woman. No doubt she knows far more about me than she will ever let on.

"Anyway, chicken alright for dinner tonight?" she asked, changing the subject and letting me off the hook.

The helmet is a known entity now, and that's a tremendous relief.

–––––

(1) It has occurred to me that this may be a flawed plan. Surely others have thought of the same thing and dealers have grown wise to it. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Comments

  1. Dealers here in the U.S., in my experience, won't let you ride the new bikes. Sometimes they'll let you ride the used ones. They'll always let you sit on them and make vroom vroom noises, though.

    ...They may have test ride days, though, when the manufacturers show up with trucks full of demo bikes.

    I have also heard of dealers having their own demo bikes, but I've never personally witnessed such a thing. However, I may have to get myself over to the local Ducati dealer and find out if things are different here.

    Private sellers almost always will let you test ride. In the U.S., that is. Also, if you make friends with other riders, they may occasionally offer to let you ride their bikes.

    I don't know how vehicle rentals work over there, but there are motorcycle rental shops here where one can rent a bike for a day or two. Obviously, it's not a permanent solution, but it's a way to get some riding in without a big investment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chris, you fricken kill me! LOL! Seriously, I laugh every time I read one of your posts.

    I don't understand why you don't just have it out, once and for all. But I realize that we don't all approach these things the same way. With my exx I would have managed a situation the way you're handling this one, if I even tried to go against his wishes. It wouldn't last though, so I finally caught on and quit trying. Which is why he's my exx.

    With Highway I don't have to be this way. Nor does he need to be with me, although I do frighten him from time to time. He never wants to fight, but if he feels cornered, he'll fight his way out. But for me to buy something I really want, he would sell something of his own to help me buy it. When I told him I wanted to ride, he sold his Yamaha Roadstar to help me buy my Kawasaki Ninja.

    I realize that's not the same as your situation, because your wife isn't interested in riding, nor having you ride. But I have a theory about such things as a woman.

    If I take away from a man the very things that make him feel good about himself, I've essentially cut his ball off. I don't want a man with no balls, so I encourage my man to be all he wants to be. I admire his strength and TRUST his decisions he makes for himself! For me, a happy man is someone I want to be with. Squish his dreams and I'll find myself with either A. Unhappy husband or B. alone.

    Best wishes to you Chris!

    Sash

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ride review: Harley-Davidson XL 883 L (aka Sportster SuperLow)

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is like riding a tractor.
That's the criticism so consistently levied against Harley-Davidson motorcycles: that there is something agrarian to the experience. And I can now say from personal experience that all those critics are right. But I can also say those critics are leaving out a key piece of information, which is this:
TRACTORS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!!!
It's a tractor that hurtles forward with roller-coaster intensity, a tractor that goes really fast, a tractor that makes you feel like Brock Lesnar in a children's ball pit. A tractor from the Land of Bad-Ass, with which you can sow the seeds of awesomeness.
But let me back up a bit...
A few days ago, I decided to take the day off, solely for the purpose of getting a chance to ride around and finally make use of the free breakfast coupon sent to me by Thunder Road. As I was gearing up, I suddenly decided that since I was already heading west, I might as well push a few miles further and che…

Ride review: Yamaha XV950 / Star Bolt

Imitation, Charles Caleb Colton famously noted, is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, the flattery the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 receives from Yamaha's XV950 is enough to make one blush. Put the two bikes side by side, and the inspiration for the latter is undeniable. Yamaha claims its bike has a "new neo retro Japanese look," but that's clearly just nonsense –– lorem ipsom that was used instead of "totally looks like a Harley-Davidson Iron 883."
Certainly the XV950 –– known as the Star Bolt in the United States –– isn't the first example of a Japanese OEM adhering faithfully to the styling cues of America's best-known motorcycle manufacturer. The orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Harley Latter-day Davidson write these bikes off as "wannabes," and tend to be pretty dismissive of anyone who would dare consider purchasing one. But I'm going to commit blasphemy here and tell you that the XV950 is unquestionably the …

Ride review: Triumph Bonneville

"OK," I said. "I want one." "Well, you know, maybe you should ask your wife first." "She loves Triumphs," I said. "Still, Chris. You should give it a think. Go home, discuss it with your wife, give yourself a chance to think clearly. After all, this is one of Triumph's most popular models; there's plenty of stock available."
The voice of reason in that conversation was Drew, the salesman at Bevan Motorcycles. He was doing his best to talk some sense into me after my test ride of the 2014 Triumph Bonneville. I was wild-eyed and yammering like a teenage boy who has touched boobies for the first time. This, my friends, is what the Bonneville does to you. It is an instantly rideable, instantly enjoyable, instantly lovable motorcycle that surprises you in just how good a simple motorcycle can be.

The Bonneville, of course, is a storied machine that's been around in one form or another for 55 years. It is a classic. Partially b…