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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…

Visiting the Fleece Inn

The Fleece Inn
A few miles from the quaint Cotswold market town of Evesham lies the Fleece Inn, a pub with a history stretching back more than 600 years. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. I love the idea of sitting in a place that's been around since before any Europeans even knew that the American continents existed. I love the Fleece Inn especially because it belongs to the National Trust. For those of you playing along at home, the National Trust is kind of sort of like a privatised version of the U.S. National Park Service.

Though, whereas the U.S. National Park Service is best known for looking after large swathes of natural land and is lesser known for taking care of historic buildings and property, the reverse is true of the National Trust. I'm veering into my day job here, but seriously, y'all: wherever you live, it is a whole hell of a lot more interesting than you realise. Get on your bike on go see the amazing stuff that surrounds you.

Too many people in the modern world lack a real, vested interest in the space around them. And that results in their being bad citizens. I think motorcyclists are a little less guilty of this because it is inherent in the experience of riding that we want to explore. We pick a spot on a map and we ride there just because. The side-effect of going to that spot is that we develop an appreciation for the space between. 

But think about all those people you hear yelling for the sake of yelling on political TV and radio. How invested are they in their region? How much do they actually care about anything beyond their own, personal comfort? How have they served their country or their community? How much have they explored? How much do they actually know about the history and culture of the places where they live?

Forget about going to Gander Mtn or Cracker Barrel; go someplace that means something. Learn the history of your place. Help protect it from the great waves of unimportance that drown cities in chain restaurants, shopping centres and business parks by showing that where you are is a place worth being.

But I digress. The point is simply that I rode out to the Fleece Inn on Friday. I had been there before and the long journey there had worn me out so much that I almost rode into the back of a semi truck. Now with more riding experience under my belt and a long trip to Scotland coming up at the end of the month, I was keen to do the trip again and gauge my ability to handle that much riding (a little more than 230 miles round trip).

I'm happy to report that I held up well. I felt alert and relatively comfortable at all points in the journey and am confident I could have pushed on for at least 60 more miles, which would put me into the 290-mile range that I will need for one of the days on my Scotland trip. Taking breaks every 60-70 miles definitely helped me stay focused. Also, I am riding with a back protector these days, which helps improve my posture and eliminate some fatigue.

Though, I am still somewhat worried about my timing. I operate on the theory that rushing a break defeats the point, but that means my breaks are quite leisurely. And that makes it difficult for me to guess how long it will take me to get places, other than saying: "A lot longer than Google thinks it will take."

On the first day of my Scotland trip I need to be in Lake District National Park by 4 p.m. and I'm not really able to decide what time in the morning I will need to set off. Google suggests I'll need to get on the road by 10:45. I know that estimate is ridiculous, but how many more hours should I add? If I stop every 60 miles, that results in four stops. Assume three of those stops will take 20 minutes and another –– my lunch stop –– will take an hour; that means I need to leave by at least 8:45. But that still feels pretty ambitious. Also, it puts me in rush-hour traffic. So, at the moment, my thinking is that I will try to be moving by 7.

The ride home saw me stopping by Thunder Road in Cwmbran, where I got a chance to sit on the new CTX1300 and be amazed by the fact it looks a whole lot better in person than in pictures. But at £15,000 I'm not entirely sure it would be the bike for me.

Comments

  1. Cool stuff. The Fleece Inn sounds excellent!

    When it comes to figuring out when to leave... Personally, I always err on the side of arriving way too early if it's something important. You can always bring along a book in case you need to kill time after you arrive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chris:

    There is nothing worse than racing "the clock". I like to leave in ample time. Keep an eye on your progress and as you get closer you could take longer breaks to spread out the time.

    If you get around 300 kms per tank, you could consider stopping every 150 kms (= 94 miles), that way every other stop would be a petrol stop where you could get refreshed at the same time, rather than having to make a separate stop for fuel or washroom

    bob
    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    ReplyDelete
  3. I actually plan my stops differently, if it works. We try to leave by 11am for a 350 mile day. My first stop is for gas &restroom after about 30 miles. Then I am good for 100 miles. Lunch, gas & restroom then at least 75 miles, but I try to push to 100. Stretch, restroom and buy a snack then finish. But i need to stop more than most I think.
    I find I can get a good push after a meal if I eat the right foods. I also sip water as I ride and eat jerky out of my pocket sometimes. But if I really want a treat, I got it bad for Sour Patch Kids. Yum!
    Smooches
    Sash
    www.SashMouth.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chris, I'm sure you won't have any problems...be bold...be confident. :-) Whenever I'm going to do a long distance ride I always plan my stops in advance based roughly on the distance I can go on a tank of gas without worrying about running out. On my Sportster that about 160-165 miles. I'll map out each stop down to the gas station I'm going to stop at. When I'm doing an Iron Butt, I'll try to keep my stops to 10-15 minutes. This seems to give me enough time off the bike to be ready to roll till the next stop.

    Tina had a very good point. Stay hydrated...getting dehydrated can ruin your day and your ride.

    Sounds like you're going to have a great adventure. Ride safe and enjoy!

    Cheers,
    Curt

    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When you're worried about time, you might as well just drive a car. Why don't you leave early in the morning and take all the time you need to enjoy your motorcycle trip?

    ReplyDelete
  6. "I'm veering into my day job here, but seriously, y'all: wherever you live, it is a whole hell of a lot more interesting than you realize. Get on your bike on go see the amazing stuff that surrounds you." One of the reasons I enjoy riding so much. You see so many more interesting things when you take the road less traveled.

    ReplyDelete

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