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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…

The Super Bowl commercial I'd like to see


On the way into work this morning, I found myself coming up with an idea for an advert for Zero Motorcycles, or whatever the hell it is that will come out of Polaris' recent acquisition of Brammo. I ride my bicycle to work. By the time I got into work, I had cemented the advert in my mind. I think it would have made a good Super Bowl ad:

Open with a CCTV-on-a-pole overhead view of an empty American city intersection. A motorcycle whirs through the intersection and you see the double flash of a speed camera/red-light camera taking a photo. A new angle, this from a security camera in a shop, shows the motorcycle coming to a rapid stop, engaging the bike's ABS. 

The rider dismounts and begins to strut down the empty street back toward the red-light camera. The rider is wearing jeans, a hoodie and Shark Vancore helmet (or similar). The camera angle is now from the perspective of the red-light camera. The rider walks close up to it, looking up, and takes off the helmet to reveal a woman who is, or looks a whole lot like, Olympic boxer Nicola Adams. She squints in exasperation and says:

"Do you ever feel we've lost something?"

Jump to another security camera angle, behind her, showing how the city dwarfs her.

"Maybe it was stolen."

Back to close-up.

"Maybe we gave it away without thinking."

Overhead view

"We're safer now; there's no denying it. Statistics show. We're safer, healthier, wealthier. Better off than we've ever been."

One or two onlookers step cautiously into view. They are filming her on their phones.

"Our great-grandparents, our grandparents, our parents -- they gave this to us. They laid down these roads, they built these cities, these grids, this structure. Then, they fought to protect it. Some of them died, so we could have this."

Close-up

"But do you ever feel we've let go of what they were protecting? Lost that thing that drove them to do all this in the first place?"

Different store security camera angle, with a shining over-chromed cruiser conspicuously in the shot.

"Some of us still make plenty of noise."

Onlooker's camera footage.

"We bang the drum. But we don't really know what the drum means."

Tight close-up

"Maybe it's not about how loud we are. How fast. How strong. How much we can consume."

Camera pulls out to reveal close-up is via a phone's camera, the rider gently pushes away the phone and is now talking to a fellow human being.

"Maybe it's about something more. Something deep. Something our ancestors understood... And maybe -- maybe -- we haven't lost it."

Store security footage, showing the woman walking back toward her electric motorcycle.

"Maybe it's still there within us, all of us."

She gets on the bike, you see its dash panel light up. Close up on her face.

"Maybe we just need to get out, get away, and remember what it's like to be free."

Camera angle shows back of her head as she slips on the helmet, revealing a large, stylised Guy Fawkes sticker on the back. She rides away and the focus blurs. You hear the whir of an electric motor.



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