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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…

600cc of awesome

I'm not quite this awesome.
But close...
And suddenly I am the coolest person in our circle of friends; even without a Harley or a Triumph I've ended up meeting the Chris Jericho test after all (1). I suppose that in some cases, the key to passing that test is simply being the one who actually gets on a bike.

Just about everyone Jenn and I hang out with on this island is an artist of some sort: performers, singer-songwriters, painters, musicians, authors, filmmakers. All those ridiculous red-wine conversations you see mimicked in films? That's my actual life, yo. And by and large, I enjoy it. These are people who are witty and thought-provoking, and quite often come out with some of the most fantastic tales you've ever heard.

They are such amazing people, in fact, that I often feel a little out of my depth. My friend, Clint, for example, is cleverer than you. It's his job. He's a successful stand-up comedian and he possesses a brilliance in almost always being able to offer a witty reply.

The other day, though, Jenn and I rode the CBF600 (2) over to his and his partner's house. In the presence of the machine, Clint seemed to be struggling to put his words together.

 "Oh-ho," he said. "It's got that real... smell of a... motorbike. It, you know, it smells like..."

"Freedom," I joked. "It smells like freedom, Clint."

This was probably the only time I ever have or ever will beat him to a punchline, and I have the motorcycle to thank.

Over the past several months, every time I've mentioned this wild motorcycle obsession to another male, I've found I was not alone. Indeed, just about every man I know has confessed that he, too, secretly wants a bike. In part because many of the company I keep are feminists, I am particularly averse to drawing conclusions based solely on gender, but the empirical truth is that the overwhelming majority of men I have spoken to have expressed a desire to get a motorcycle.

A second empirical truth is that only one of those men seems to be taking any action toward achieving that goal (my coworker has spent the past several months restoring a 1967 Lambretta, despite never having ridden one before).

What to do with these empirical truths is a different issue. What conclusions, if any, can be drawn? I don't know. But I can say that I feel humblebrag proud of myself for following through. I have a personal mantra, "If you're going to say it, you'd better do it," (3) and feel most accomplished when I manage to live up to this creed.

Treading even further down the dangerous path of gender-based generalities, I can't help but noticing, too, that the bike has the ability to evoke an equally foundational-emotional response from women. Speak to them about a motorcycle and they will either show no interest, or disdain. But put them next to a bike, encourage them to sit on the saddle, and something deeper takes over.

Clint's partner, Laura, grinned as she gripped the handlebars and said: "Do I look bad-ass? I'll bet I look fucking bad-ass."

Another woman sat on the bike and squealed like a little girl, waving her hands about and giggling as though on a thrill ride rather than a stationary motorcycle.

All of these reactions, of course, reflect back on me, and I feel that in just a tiny way they alter how people see me. I don't necessarily believe that such a change in perception is solid enough that it can be labelled as good or bad, just that it occurs. Or maybe I only feel that way.

Whatever the case, I find it interesting and strange that simple ownership of a trundling hunk of machinery could have such an effect. I suppose the moral of the story, mis amigos, is this: Get a motorcycle; it will change your life.


-----

(1) "All the women want to be with me; all the men want to be like me." -- Upon further research, it may be that this quote actually originates with Ric Flair and that I simply read it in one of Chris Jericho's books.

(2) Jenn has decided I should name the bike Aliona, in deference to one of my favourite "Strictly Come Dancing" professional dancers, Aliona Vilani.

(3) I used to prefer the far simpler: "Don't say; do." But the fact is, I am a talker and it is almost impossible for me to avoid yammering on about something I care about.

Comments

  1. Just wait until random women start asking you to take them for rides. :)

    I like your personal mantra. A weakness of mine is getting all excited about something, talking a lot about it and then... dropping it and getting excited about something else. But I'm working on it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chris:

    People who don't ride, won't understand. So many are judgmental and they take the safe route, but I find that many secretly wished they could ride too, except that "it is too dangerous" or that they are not getting permission from their partners to buy one

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pee Wee Herman said it best: "Everyone I know has a big But."

      We have no Buts.

      Wait, that wasn't right...

      Delete
  3. I agree whole full-heartedly with your assertion. A lot of people say they want a motorcycle but very few people go out and get one.

    I have met so many people however who act like some knowledgeable guru about anything with two wheels and then you find out they rode a dirt bike once on their cousin's farm when they were twelve.

    Good for you for having follow-through. So many people are lacking this important characteristic.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In my college days, I used to pick up chicks on my Kawasaki KZ400. The 400 wasn't anything close to looking "cool" back in those days, but it didn't matter. Chicks only saw the engine, the two wheels, and the pillion, and that's all that mattered. That old bike helped me get laid, and for a while, it made me feel like a champ.

    ReplyDelete
  5. All I know is that I am picking up more chicks than ever since I started riding. Good luck Chris! You are now of the VERY COOL in Wales!

    Smooches,
    Sash
    www.sashmouth.com

    ReplyDelete

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