Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend Education

Picture it -- glorious +26 degree weather in late September.  The weekend -- no work.  A new bike to break in.  Races being taped on the PVR... get out and enjoy the sunshine.  Which I certainly did, until I was about 1 mile from home after a lovely 50 mile ride (restricted to 39mph according the max revs break in according to the manual).  Me and the KLX are getting along famously.  Light, easy, fun to ride even with 20 hp, and more fun to be had when I can open it up after break in.  The supermoto tires mean that I can go through the 2 roundabouts in town without even braking, sticking my leg out with style.
On the way home Sunday, I approached the 2nd roundabout when a young kid in a Caddy pulled out in front of me -- he misjudged my speed (I wasn't/didn't need to slow down)... while he left me a bit of room I could work with, he then decided to stop dead... why, I don't know.  My brake hand reacted faster than my left foot, and down I went in a lowside with a locked front brake.  Like my roadracing crashes, things slowed down.  I saw the rear bumper approaching my head as I slid along the ground; I enjoyed the painless sensation of my Sidi boots doing their job, protecting my left foot trapped under the bike; I immediately felt pain in my hip, but the numb type I generally associated with a hard bodycheck; worst of all, I could feel my light jacket rolling up my arm towards the elbow, leaving my forearm to make corrosive contact with the pavement.  Then, silence.
I was conscious, did not hit my head, and I avoided the car.  The klx was still put-putting while lying on top of me... although I was able to reach down and hit the kill switch with my right hand.  The driver came out from his car, and a fella working on his yard also showed up.  Yard guy picked up my bike, while caddy boy claimed it wasn't his fault (was it...?).  He suggested we exchange information, but to what end?  My bike was remarkably undamaged save for a few minor scrapes.  My arm and knee were a bit of a mess, so with no information to exchange (single vehicle accident) he left.  Yard guy stayed with me to make sure I was OK, looked at my forearm to ensure that there was no bones sticking out.  I shook his hand, started up the bike, and went home for a date with the hydrogen peroxide and an old toothbrush.  Thankfully Kate was not home yet and I could howl in privacy.

The worst of it, 2 days later...

I've been riding since 1997, and this is my first street crash.  Ironically, I wasn't speeding, I was on the LEAST powerful bike I have ever ridden on the street, and I was a mile from home.  It was a day I decided against my leather jacket... my choice.  I did have a helmet on, I did avoid the other car, and I did avoid serious damage to the bike... my race-trained habit of "looking through the turn" avoided a more serious rear-end collision.  My boots saved my feet -- had I been wearing sneakers, yikes!
2 days after, I am able to put things into perspective.  This was a real wake-up call for me.  This little bike was supposed to keep me out of trouble, and while it crashes about 1000 percent better than a sportbike, it can still be somewhat dangerous.  What have I been reminded of:
1.  Never, ever, ever trust other drivers!
2.  Always wear proper protection -- where I was hurt the worst, I was the least protected.  My bottom half was covered in jeans -- still some damage but minor.  Had I had a leather jacket on, no injuries to the arm!
3.  When in doubt, chicken out (on the street, at least) -- I had been through that roundabout many times before, much faster, but there was NO traffic -- much more margin of error.
4.  My wife is a patient woman.  She made the trip to the pharmacy for more supplies on Monday.

So no repairs to the KLX -- scratches have added character to both me and the bike.  No missed work, although I am stiff and sore all over.  Again, could have been much worse!
And I got back on the horse on Monday -- rode for an hour in the warm weather again -- with a leather jacket! 
Dad, if you're reading this, don't tell mom!  If she does see it, remind her that once again, RACING is safer than riding on the street!  Keep the rubber side down, everyone!

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