Thanks for the article by Andrew Trevitt, “After the Crash” ( Riding Skills Series, Dec./jan. ’17). I have had many of the thoughts and emotions mentioned. After 30 years of riding, at 47 years old, I recently experienced my first serious crash. Even though I have never had an invincibility complex, I never fully subscribed to the cliché that there are two types of riders: those who have crashed and those who will. My fresh motorcycling history has now only served to solidify the cliché.
As a commercial pilot, I am no stranger to doing a preflight, and it translates well to riding. As in flying, it is wise to assess one’s physical and mental state before swinging a leg over the moto.
The day of my wreck, during my mental preflight, I noted to myself that I would be riding unfamiliar twisty roads in back areas of Kentucky’s eastern parts. In addition I wasn’t 100 percent because I slept poorly (only about five hours— I am accustomed to getting seven) and I reminded myself I just wasn’t sharp. Physically too, I took my normal precautions. I geared up. I am a self- proclaimed gear junkie.
I met my friend Christine and proceeded to follow her through bright sunshine, beckoning hills, and some of the best- snaked pavement west of the Dragon. I let her lead me for a half hour, my tires and body warming to the task. That is where my caution slowly took a back seat to my ego, goaded by the excitement and thrill that kept stabbing my mind and body with adrenaline.
Coming through a fast left- hand sweeper my judgment failed. My eyes or brain saw a sudden decreasing- radius turn defined by a limestone, canyon wall. ( Though later inspection revealed a section of the limestone wall blocked the view of the road. The turn did not reduce at all whatsoever and was quite manageable at higher speeds.) I had split seconds to choose grassy drop- off to the right or straight into limestone. I chose the high grass.
I had to wait a couple of weeks for insurance money, and that left me without a ride. Each day that passed a certain doubt crept in that at my age I had no business carving up roads on a literbike. The weeks and months that followed saw me lack some confidence at speed and in corners for quite a while. Like Andrew mentioned, I analyzed what I had done wrong. I vowed not to ride again when physically/mentally below par. And as he suggested, if my riding was still below my normal skillset, I packed it in for the day and engaged in other activities to get my mind off of the negativity. Mostly, I paced myself and just kept practicing. Eventually the fear subsided to a healthy respect, and I took some trackdays and lessons on the track that improved my riding.