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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 want: Triumph Bonneville

I don't have very many riding hours under my belt, so each time I do one of these 'what I want' posts it's a good idea to take them with a grain of salt. As my riding experience and knowledge build my interests morph. New information changes what I pine for.

So it was with the Honda CBF600. I did the bulk of my training on one and prior to ever throwing a leg over the thing I had thought it might be a perfect candidate for my first bike. Used models can be had for as little as £2,000 and it is a bike consistently portrayed as being reliable and newbie-friendly. Not to mention it's sort of got the naked look that I like.

But then I actually got on one and kept thinking: "Where the hell is my right foot?"

For some reason I wasn't bothered about the left side, but on my right it felt my foot was too far back –– just hovering somewhere in space behind my butt. I never had the physical awareness of the rear brake pedal that I would have liked. I didn't feel comfortable hurtling toward the chaos of a roundabout this way.

Also, I wasn't so sure it was a bike that adhered to my friend Lucky's first rule of bikes: Go for the one  that makes you grin like an idiot. Or, as Sash so eloquently put it: "Buy the one that gives you a boner."

Then, Lucky suggested a Triumph Bonneville.

"They've got leg room, they're predictable and they're chick magnets," he said.

"A Bonnie?!" I thought. "But isn't that a bit big?"

Apparently not. Yes, it's 865cc, but a larger engine, it would seem, does not always mean a faster, more-difficult-to-control machine. In looking at reviews, the Bonnie is consistently suggested as a newbie-friendly ride. It looks really cool, is reportedly quite reliable and I've seen several affordable used ones online.

A few days after Lucky had put the idea in my head I found myself at Mission Burrito in Bath, Jenn and I drinking beers and looking out the window at traffic as it passed. She caught me turning my head, following each motorcycle as it moved past, and decided to humour me.

"What kind of bike do you want?" she asked.

"A Triumph Bonneville," I answered with speed reminiscent of Ralphie asking for a Red Rider BB gun.

"Ooh, I like Triumphs," she said with something akin to a purr.

Wait. What?! Had Lucky been right?

"Your wife will not be able to resist you," he had said.

But Lucky's not had a chance to meet Jenn yet. How would he know? I quickly brought up a picture of a Bonnie on my phone and showed it to her.

"Yeah," she said. "That's really cool. You'd look pretty sexy on one of those."

So, uhm, you know, a Triumph Bonneville is pretty much the bike I want now.

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