Thursday, November 24, 2005


November 20, 2005: The day I fell off

After a 17-year stretch of accident-free motorcycling, I crashed last Sunday. Hrrrmph.

To keep a long story marginally reasonable in length, I low-sided my ZX6R in a corner while making a deep right turn at about 30 miles per hour. On a cold Sunday afternoon, on cold tires, and with a dull thud of a headache that I hadn’t been able to shake all day, I tucked the front end and went face-down onto the asphalt.

Well, not face-down literally. My right ribcage and head actually took the majority of the impact. As I felt the front end (and all control) go away, I instinctively let go of the bike. I just caught a glimpse of it sliding away from me on the right-side frame protector and exhaust canister as I quickly attempted to get onto my back.

“Cool,” I thought as I stared at the sky, waiting for my body to come to a stop. “The frame protector and exhaust canister are totally going to protect the rest of the bike!”

Wrong. Well, somewhat wrong, anyway.

As I picked myself up and walked toward the Red Sled, I began to notice that the frame protector had broken off. My sweet, crimson mistress lay pitifully on her side, her lower right fairing cheesed beyond repair.

I was definitely feeling pain in my right side, but felt good enough to pick the bike up and put it on its sidestand. I then took a few moments to calm down and inspect the damage, which was not nearly as bad as I had expected. The right lower fairing was shaved, scratched and gouged -- as was the canister -- but only minor scratches could be seen on the bar end, front break lever, mirror, and front turn signal. The rest of the bike was quite literally UNSCATHED. There was no damage at all to the rearset, tailpiece, tank, engine covers, upper fairing, tank, seat, or anything else. Talk about fortunate. A few minutes later I started the bike up, rode it home, and immediately called my insurance company.

Which brings me to the subject of Progressive Insurance. I’ve been with them for 4 or 5 years now, having never made a previous claim, so I wasn’t sure how things would go. Well, I can now say that Progressive kicks ass (as insurance companies go, you understand). By 4 p.m. the very next day, the bike had been adjusted, and I had a check in my hand.

The parts I could fix myself have been fixed (bar-end, mirror, and turn signal removed, sanded smooth and repainted; brake lever ground and polished), and I challenge anyone to find evidence of the damage (I could’ve been a body man, I tell ya). Although admittedly, I did take off the symmetrical pieces and prepped and painted them to match the fixes. I then removed the exhaust canister, lower fairing, and frame sliders and ordered new parts to replace them (along with a new tank bag with some of the leftover fundage). By this time next week, she’ll be as good as new again.

Now, on to my screw-ups.

Firstly, I shouldn’t have been riding at all that day. I didn’t feel good and I was having trouble concentrating. In fact, I had made the decision about 5 minutes before crashing that I needed to head home. The “feel good” rule is a personal statute that I’ve been violating regularly lately out of sheer overconfidence in my abilities, and it finally bit me in the ass. Lesson relearned -- and I’ll NEVER break it again.

Lastly, there wasn’t enough heat in either my tires or the asphalt to be cornering as deeply as I was. That dynamic, combined with the fact that there was a layer of fine, almost invisible dust coating the road, added to the equation. Again, these are the kinds of mental errors you can potentially make when you’re not feeling good.

As for me, I’m fine. I have a few bruised ribs that hurt like a mofo, but that’s it. My protective gear did its job. No road rash, no head injuries, no blood. Of course, my Tecknic jacket and KBC Airborne helmet are both essentially ruined, but who cares? That’s what they were there for.

Oh well. Here’s hoping I never fall off again. And in the spirit of humility and best wishes, I’m posting this article so that other riders -- noobs especially -- can learn from my 1600-dollar mistake.



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