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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…

I am crazy about my wife, by the way

I may have given a negative impression of my wife. I worry I have, unintentionally, painted her as a nagging partner who uses phrases like "death machine" when referring to motorcycles and stands stubbornly between myself and happiness. If I have, it's not correct. That is not the woman I married, not the woman I wake up to each morning.

I am mad for her, my wife. I have never found someone with whom I fit so perfectly –– physically and emotionally. She wraps easily into my arms, is perfect there. And when I slip into dark moods, which I do far too often, she gives only love, support and encouragement.

Jenn and I were married in November, and together for two years before that. The night we first met I talked mindlessly for hours, until the pub kicked us out, filling the air with noise in hopes it would prevent us having to say goodbye. When I got home, I fired off an email to several friends back in the United States bragging about this girl I had met.

We clicked so perfectly that first night we saw each other again the next night, then again and again and again. Since then, we have spent few days apart. But even now she makes my heart jump. She makes me feel alive, makes me want to live. Every cliché you can think about love and affection is what I feel for her.

True, she hasn't been fully supportive of my motorcycle obsession. If she's not choosing her words she can be severe. She has said I am selfish, that a motorcycle is a luxury. Recently, we had something bordering on an argument over the whole issue and it felt I was up against something deeply emotional, from that place in the mind/heart that reason cannot easily touch. Sometimes we just feel things so powerfully.

In some way I cannot quite understand nor answer to, I think she fears a motorcycle will result in the loss of me. Not so much that I will be injured or killed, but that my personality will alter. And whereas I have always been attentive and hopelessly in love with her, a motorcycle will somehow change me into a person who disconnects and only shows up for meals.

She fears that if I have a motorcycle I will suddenly decide: "Well, I have my way of getting around. I can do what I want and everyone else can sort themselves out or disappear."

I am not that way, will not be that way. In fact, it kills me so much to upset Jenn I sometimes think about abandoning my pursuit of a motorcycle. The other day, as we half-argued, I felt an urge to produce my motorcycle helmet (of which she is still unaware) and smash it up with a hammer. I wanted to destroy my own ambition for the sake of keeping her from being upset at me.

Had I done such a thing, she would have lost it. She loves me and wants me to be happy; she would never tolerate my doing such a thing. And to that end I feel that, eventually, she will ease to the idea. I just need to be calmer in approaching things than I have been. Perhaps, before long, the issue will be so unimportant neither of us will remember it having existed.


  1. I guess I missed the news that you were married in November. Congratulations!

    If you're anything like me, you are going to be entirely preoccupied with your bike when it's not running. And you'll probably get a bit cranky when you're unable to ride. On the other hand, you'll be a lot of fun to be around when you have been riding. It's hard to get off a motorcycle in a bad mood.

    Is Jenn likely to ride with you on occasion?

    1. I think Jenn will be keen eventually. Lately, now that she realises I'm genuinely not just going to run off on some ridiculous bike fantasy, she seems a lot more supportive and shared with me that she used to want to get a motorcycle when she was younger. She used to have pictures of them up in her room when she was a girl. Give it time, methinks, and she'll probably have a bike of her own, leaving me in the dust.


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