Sliding

It is quite possible that I jinxed myself with that last post.

“Dress for the slide, not for the ride” – The common motorcyclist’s exhortation is all about not dressing in thongs, shorts and a helmet, because you need to have some intact skin somewhere to take from in order to do skin-grafting.

So, I foolishly took the bike out to go meet friends at the Eureka Tower Skydeck on a day when I knew rain was possible, even likely, and took it to the city, where I has said I would not go, at night.

It should not have come as such a surprise then, to find myself parted from my bike and sliding down the very wet Princes Highway at some 40kph.

Still, I was very very lucky. The sum-total of my injuries are two bruised knees, a kevlar-graze and some stiffness, because my safety gear all worked (my helmet worked in an honorary capacity only, having not contacted anything but my head): My draggin jeans now have a tiny hole in the denim, and my house-keys managed to cut their way out of my jacket pocket. The bike needs a new brake lever, and several of the pre-existing surface damages are a little deeper or a little fresher. That, after all, is why one buys a beat-up old bomb as one’s first bike.

My chief luck, though, was in that I did not actually hit anything but the road. I’m gratified to find that my reactions, while not quick enough to retain control of the bike, were prompt and to the point:

  1. Get up.
  2. Get to a white line.
  3. Check for oncoming traffic.
  4. Locate the bike.
  5. Get myself and the bike off the road, safely.

The really surprising part, in hindsight, is that I had no difficulty lifting the bike or hauling it off the road, a feat of which I would normally be completely incapable.

Still, I don’t think I’ll be riding anywhere for a little while. :( …and I may just try to never ride in the wet ever again: two wheels is little enough traction on a dry road, and helmet visors don’t come with wipers.

Update: I have gotten back on the bike, and it’s ok. I’m a little wiser and a lot more careful, and I have developed a more appropriate respect for the hazards presented to motorcyclists by wet roads. This post is not a plea for help. I’m fine, thanks.

16 thoughts on “Sliding

  1. Ouch!

    I’m sorry to hear you had such a nasty end to the evening, though glad that your safety gear worked and it wasn’t much worse.

    I hope your bruises heal fast!

  2. Crap! :(
    I mean, it’s great that you got-away with it so lightly…but not so good when you think about what could have happened. A less cautious rider would have fared much worse in such conditions.
    I think the last thing I said you you on Sunday night was a customary “Safe trip home!”

  3. Dude! I just came here because of the text blogged by Damien:

    Just read something that happened later that night…and I can only repeat the mantra: “Huzzah for kevlar!”

    It was the kevlar comment that made me know what he was talking about. Blimey. I do remember thinking that motercycling on a wet night was a bit risky but then as quickly dismissed such concerns by clasping onto the comfort of statistics. Still shit happens and I am happy that you only got a tiny dose of it.

  4. Yah. I don’t see myself riding when there’s any slightest possibility of rain for a long time, if ever again.

    E says I’m being silly, but I still feel bad for putting holes in her magnificent green leather jacket.

    The irony that I had just shown off all my safety gear to a crowd of people, and been wished a safe trip by most of them, did not go unnoticed. :-/

  5. Glad your lowside cherry was broken with minimal injury :P
    I was riding home from work on the SE at about the same time (really regretting leaving my waterproof gloves at home) and with the fresh rain and oily roads, it was very slippery.
    If its any consolation (probably isn’t) all 3 of my offs so far were in the wet. I don’t like rainy riding either :(

  6. Actually, there’s some consolation in that, but not where you think: The thing that tips the scale for me and convinces me that I <i>will</i> get back on the bike is the fact that you’ve had three offs and as of today your lasting impact is a degree of caution.
    The reasoning goes like this: I still don’t quite know <i>how</i> I came off. This means that I will very likely come off again some day if I continue riding. So, in order to keep riding, I have to believe that I can survive coming off again and learn from it.
    I think I believe.

  7. Sorry, I hate to be negative, but if something really bad happened I’d hate even more to have said nothing.
    I’d prefer you looked at real statistics than at how Heath, or any number of individuals you know, have fared.
    http://www.tacsafety.com.au/jsp/content/NavigationController.do?areaID=12&tierID=1&navID=2B63301D7F0000010080CB01C9E47EBA&navLink=null&pageID=162
    (or http://tinyurl.com/yvb6hs)
    Taking the 5 year averages:
    Car Driver Fatalities / year – 170
    Car Driver Serious Injuries / year – 3354
    Bike Fatalities / year – 46
    Bike Serious Injuries / year – 840
    In 2006 there were 463,057 motorcycles registered in vic, vs. 11,188,880 cars – this gives (with lots of caveats for obvious approximations):
    Chance of a serious injury/fatality as a car driver: 0.031% or 1 in 3174
    Chance of a serious injury/fatality as a bike rider: 0.191% or 1 in 523

    I’m not saying “Don’t ride” – 0.19% is pretty small, and it’s an average over everyone, many of the worst accident categories (country riding, speeds over 100k) don’t apply to your trips.

    But I’d like you to know the odds, and accept the risk you take. Sorry to be all grumpy, but the “I think I believe” line set me off. I’d be happier with “I think the benefits outweigh the risks” :)

    - Grumpy Korny

  8. Thank you Grumpy Korn!

    I should really have been more specific. I have done a buttload of reading in recent months about the statistics and the actual conditions and causes of motorcycle accidents and fatalities.

    The problem here is one of nerve. The fall genuinely scared me, and I need some emotional reassurance, gut-feeling stuff, to convince me to get back on the bike. You seem to have always had the knack of deriving emotional satisfaction from hard statistics, but I just don’t.

    Knowing that Heath, who I know personally, has done this, helps.

    If you want more statistics, try these:
    The Motorcycle Council’s Road Safety Website.

    Australia’s international motorcycle safety performance 1987 to 1997.

    Australian Government Road Fatality Statistics.

    The Monash University Accident Research Centre series of reports.

    More glibly, you could consider this comparison, from the Ontario Equestrian Federation:
    “HorseQuest.com and Horse Canada recently published that horseback riding has a higher serious injury rate than motorcycle riding. While a motorcyclist can expect to suffer a serious injury every 7,000 hours of riding, a horseback rider can expect to suffer a serious injury every 350 hours of riding”

    Finally, if you want to look at Worst Case Scenarios, assuming that you consider serious physical injury a worse thing than brain damage, paralysis or vegetative states, you could have a read of this nightmare: “Nearly killed; hit and run, please pray for me.”

    I know the risks, thanks.

  9. Fair enough – sorry if I overreacted; I think I’m a bit allergic to people who make major decisions based on statistics they gather by observing their friends, rather than actual research. (I’m also sure I do this all the time… :) – obviously you aren’t doing this, so apologies are due.

  10. I’m satisfied that it’s an acceptable risk, and have been for some time.

    I do wish sometimes that I was given credit for having at least some tiny fragment of a brain.

    The problem (for which a little faith is a potential cure) is one of irrational phobia. Going for a slide scared me. I got straight back on the bike at the time (having little choice), but going forward I find myself in need of a little courage. This is not something that I am going to find in statistics or calm rational analysis of the matter.

    Continuing immediately isn’t an option in any case: the bike needs a little fixing and I want to get it properly checked out by a mechanic.

  11. Gotta love the stats. Having spent some time on Netrider, you know how many R1 mounted squids are out there, inflating the already high injury stats :P Mmmmmm, road rash.
    You ride a very nimble and reliable 250, you gear and bike colours make you easily visable, now that you’ve had an off you awareness will be much higher, you dont commute in heavy traffic, you tend to avoid bad conditions (well, you probably will now), you wear full protective gear, you are very aware of the risks and you are a cautious rider. These things lower the risks quite a bit.
    As to courage…. wait for a nice sunny day, go outside in the sun, close ur eyes and remember what it feels like to be out riding.

  12. “I do wish sometimes that I was given credit for having at least some tiny fragment of a brain.”

    I do think you have a brain, I wish you would listen to it more.

    For example, your brain said:

    “Continuing immediately isn’t an option in any case: the bike needs a little fixing and I want to get it properly checked out by a mechanic.”

    I accept this as a good reason to not hop on your bike again immediately.

    However, it turned out to be inconvenient, as your car wasn’t working and you weren’t willing to shell out the money for a cab or call it an early night, so you ignored it.

    As the mythbusters would say, “failure is always an option”.

  13. At one level I’m highly amused by the statement that I ‘ignored’ my brain. With what did who ignore it? How could I not accept responsibility for my own actions, given that they’re mine?

    As I stated last night, I thoroughly examined the bike and determined to my own satisfaction that the scope for accident damage was small and superficial. I do still want to get some mechanical repairs done, but I am satisfied that the bike is both functional and safe right now.

    That my opinion changed between one comment and the next is simply evidence that this is my blog, it’s not me, nor is it my brain, and it’s not real-time.

    I appreciate everyone’s concern for my wellbeing.

    “everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?” – Han Solo

  14. It’s rather rude to leave comments on someone’s blog accusing them of not thinking, and of risking their life because they are too lazy or too cheap to find other options.
    Thorne and I checked the bike over thoroughly, independently of each other, and Thorne sought advice from a more seasoned rider, all of which satisfied us that the bike was essentially intact. Before Thorne left that night, we discussed other transport options for the night, the weather, and other safety factors. Riding the motorbike that night was not a spur-of-the-moment bit of craziness.
    If someone, very shortly after having their first fender-bender in a car, declared that they would never again drive in the dark, or in the rain, did drive in the dark or the rain again, would you also accuse them of being unthinking and recklessly impulsive? Or would you assume that as the shock of the accident decreased, that person was able to look at things more realistically rather than through the fear generated by their initial fright?
    Next time I recommend you get all the relevant facts in hand before you make yourself look like a condescending twat again

  15. Hi Thorne – just catching up on blogs. I had no idea you’d come off your bike, and I’m really glad you’re ok. I think it’s really cool you’re riding. I’ve been doing a lot of research on scooters, and I’m interested in getting one sometime in the next year. Having wheels is really convenient, but I feel bad driving around in a car when I’m the only occupant, and scooters at least, are far more economical than cars to run. I can’t off the top of my head find the stats online, but I did see some stats that showed that smaller cc bikes and scooters have a very good safety record. As for psychological reactions to accidents – that’s perfectly normal. My Dad wouldn’t go through the Burnley tunnel for months after that big accident (it’s made his mild tunnel phobia much worse).

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