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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…

OK, now what?

Let's go back several months to when I first started this blog, where I identified the three things that were standing between me and taking to the road on a motorcycle. Namely: lack of a UK motorcycle license; lack of money; and lack of support for the idea from my wife.

Much to my surprise, the last of those issues was the first to be resolved. Jenn came on board very quickly once she saw that it was something that meant a lot to me. When I had first started talking about motorcycles one could have described her attitude as "vehemently opposed." Without being willing to admit she was doing it, she seemed keen to draw a line in the sand on the issue and declare that ownership of a motorcycle was infinitely selfish and should fall into the same priority list as ownership of a private island.

Jump forward from that point several months, however, and her attitude had changed. On the day I finally passed the Module 2 exam, one of the first things she said was: "Now we need to get me a helmet and jacket, so you can take me places."

I had thought getting Jenn on board would be the hardest part of all this; it turned out to be easiest. Meanwhile, the part I had felt would be most straightforward, the exam, turned out to be incredibly challenging. But, as I say, the obstacle was finally overcome last week. That leaves just one thing standing between myself and taking to the road:

Money.

Which is an obstacle that is never easy, for anyone.

I simply don't have the money to buy a motorcycle. I'm trying, but can't seem to get anywhere. In the past few months, I've managed to get interviews for three different jobs, each of which would have resulted in a yearly pay increase of at least £8,000, but have each time been passed over. The emotional effect of all this defeat has been pretty devastating and the end result is that I still don't have a bike.

Don't get me wrong here. I suspect that from my What I Want posts a person could be led to believe that I'm being picky, that I've got my heart set on owning a brand new bike as my first. Not at all. I'd settle for a 13-year-old Yamaha or what have you, but even there I do not have the cash. Presently, I have just £350 that could be put toward a bike -- money I have managed to squirrel away bit by bit since December. At my present rate of saving, I will have enough for the aforementioned Yamaha in October 2015.

I feel I'm stuck at the bottom of a pretty high wall here and I can't figure a way over it, which is frustrating, to say the least. I worry about skills loss, and thereafter a loss in confidence and willingness to get on a bike. I am afraid of slipping into whatever it was that prevented me from riding after I got my U.S. license at age 18. 

There are a few dealerships around that have demo bikes. For example, I know that Thunder Road has several demo NC700X bikes, and that Suzuki has a number of test ride events taking place throughout the summer. Kawasaki also allows people to book test rides, as does Yamaha. But these are resources that I suspect will dry up very quickly, and it's certainly not the best way for a person to go about gaining the hours of experience that one wants and needs as a new rider.

I have seen bikes offered for as little as £500, which I could probably put together by the end of the summer, but these machines are more than 20 years old and have upward of 80,000 miles on the clock. I suspect I would almost instantly regret buying such a bike, as its demands would far outstrip my mechanical and financial abilities.

I feel stuck. Grounded. I've got my motorcycle license. But now what?

Comments

  1. "Now what?"

    #1: GET JENN A HELMET AND A JACKET.

    #2: Keep your eyes and ears open, your opportunity will present itself. I know that's not much comfort when you just want your damned bike already, but I've found it's true.

    It took two or three years between getting my license and getting my first a motorcycle.

    #3. Have you considered writing sort of an action/intrigue thriller about, oh, I dunno, corrupt lawyers conspiring with the Vatican to overthrow the U.N., and only a plucky journalism coed with porcelain skin and a grizzled former mall cop with a soft spot for greyhounds can stop them?

    I mean, you could pound that out in a couple weeks and sell it in no time. Publish it under a pen name and use it to fund your motorcycle and your serious writing. Easy money, yo. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chris:

    Listen to Lucky ^^

    You have a talent of putting words to paper and I am mesmerized every time I read a blog entry from you. Your word flow and thoughts are so precise and it is always a pleasure to read. Do what you know how to do best, and that may be writing . . .

    Lock yourself up in a room and start typing away . . . you will have your new to you bike in no time

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kickstarter.com. Raise money via new business venture involving a motorcycle. Maybe uh, start a website publication on motorcycles and pubs, pub reviews, pub rides, the moto-pub culture. You've already the writing talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That might be a really good idea. I've had something kicking around in my head a bit. I'll have to see if I can develop it in my own mind.

      Delete
  4. An old bike is cheap and keeping it in good working order will give you a lot of mechanical practice on troubleshooting problems with bikes.

    Could be win win.

    ReplyDelete

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