- Jan 15, 2008
Man, I'm glad you're still alive...
Years ago I was at a light, on my 47 ES2, in the outside lane. Turned green and as I got to the other side the driver of a car on my left decided it wanted to pull into the Circle K and pulled right in front of me. Good thing I was just getting my speed up and we didn't collide. Did need to stop and get the seat out of my backside, I was a serious pucker factor.PAY ATTENTION ALL THE TIME !
Went for a ride on a Sunday with two buddies. One rode his metric cruiser and the other rode my ST 1300 . Absolutely beautiful day in the low 80’s - no humidity and not a cloud in the sky . I rode my 1950 Norton single which has a manual ignition advance on the left handlebar. Let in the clutch in first gear and then advance the ignition with your left thumb while rolling on the throttle. Leave it advanced while changing up or down until you get to bottom gear then retard just before coming to a stop. You are very busy operating machines of this nature but I have been riding this one for fifteen years now . We were riding two lane paved country back roads on a route I have traveled hundreds of times and I am intimately familiar with it.
I was in the front and came to an intersection with a stop sign - stopped , looked both ways and when no traffic was seen I proceeded across and reached for the advance with my thumb and it wasn’t there . I glanced down while I was in the intersection ( turns out I hadn’t retarded it before stopping - the rpm should have told me ) and when I looked up I saw the truck that I was about to cross in front of.
Instinct took over with stabbing in countersteer and stomping the inside peg . Turned right in the lane and then around the back of the truck which had never slowed .
My buddies whom had front row seats to this incredible stupidity on my part said it looked like an act in a motorcycle thrill show.
This was entirely my own fault and I am still beating myself up over it - as well I should . I allowed a simple distraction to take my eyes off the road for split second while in an intersection of all places. Thankfully no harm done to anyone or anything but my pride and my ego . I have been riding for over 50 years and this is as close as I have come to what would likely have been a fatality - yours truly being the likely victim. If by any wild stretch the driver of the red truck reads this I apologize for the likely stress I and I alone caused - my bad .
So maybe some good will come of this - I hope I have re- learned something and perhaps it will impress upon some who read it how vulnerable we are on motorcycles and how important it is to be vigilant. If something seems amiss wait for the appropriate time to assess the problem. Don’t allow complacency to creep in . Ride safely please - EVERYONE.
Tell that to Marco Simoncelli or Jarno Saarinen. I am really sick to death of hearing how unsafe public roads are and how safe racing is. When I was young, all my friends raced dirt bikes. I couldn't afford to have anything I couldn't use as transportation, so I rode on the street. They all tsk-tsked, wagged their fingers and shook their heads in knowing resignation. These days, they all limp from their "safe" dirt biking while I do not despite several pretty good crashes. And 99% of them ride no more. The street is potentially safer than the track because not everyone's going balls-to-the-wall with their hair on fire. Go tell your health insurance agent you are giving up "unsafe' street riding to become a "safe" motorcycle racer and see how long it takes them to cancel your policy.A friend of mine once said 'every time we fall off while racing, we could be killed'. I never think like that. The only time I ever copped a serious injury, it was a dislocated collar bone, which could have easily been me neck. It is the only crash which has ever worried me and it makes me angry. It happened because of somebody else's stupid bloody ego. I have been off a couple of times at near 100 MPH due to locking drum brakes. If you don't hit anything, you usually walk away. But a nasty little crash at relatively low speed is sometimes a killer. I really dislike riding on public roads because some car drivers are homicidal. In racing the riders usually care for each other. To get killed while road racing, you usually have to be very unlucky. The most dangerous time is when you first start racing. After that, it is fairly easy.
The hot bikes sport nearly 200 bhp, where back in the 60's 40 bhp made a big fast bike. There's millions more vehicles on the road. There's so many factors relating to increased danger. No way motorcycles can be as safe as they were when Cannonball Baker crossed the country on dirt roads on a 30 bhp 500-lb whale. Electronic safety aids, protective gear and technology in general have all done their part to mitigate the danger, but riding motorcycles will always be a less-than-totally-safe activity.Unfortunately I think riding on the road is rapidly becoming more hazardous that racing. I constantly see cars veering into the wrong lane, braking really late for a T junction or suddenly turning due to their lack of attention.
Ok, enough rant and let's get on with things.
Seat is usable, bit scuffed and a small tear or two, but that'll add patina huh.
Tank looks ok after a cursory exam. Will need a bit of filler and a repaint, but just maybe.
What's under it is another story though:
Can't see any way that the frame would still be recoverable.
Note the headsteady too.
LHS peashooter has a couple of dings on the inside. Haven't got the RHS one off yet. Both header pipes completely ruined.
Want to get the front end off next. I hope the front wheel can be salvaged.
I’ve raced, I still do track days, and ride on the road.
I think the notion that racing is safe is utter nonsense.
Yes, there is solace in the fact there are no trucks, SUVs, drunks, mobile phones, cars full of kids, etc,etc. But this is then balanced by the fact that everyone on track has the red mist and is riding right up to, or beyond their level of safety and control.
It’s relatively easy to ride safe on the road if you so choose, just slow down and give way more. You can’t do that on a track, well if you do, you’re a bloody hazard !