Tuesday, August 2, 2011

As Seen Through the Lens of a Helmet

Lying on my back with my foot pinned under the seat of my bike, it is surprising how much the view through the small window of the helmet resembles a movie screen.  The fluffy clouds floated along the deep blue backdrop.  The leaves on the trees fluttering in the snippets of breezes passing by.  I could even hear a few happily chirping birds.

That little viewport prevented me from seeing my position in this world.  I couldn't see that my bike was laying on the ground.  A most unnatural position for a "cruiser."  Thankfully I couldn't see my husbands frantic rush to get off his bike and rush towards me.  I could only imagine my knight in matte mesh armor standing up and throwing a leg over his steed.  Unmindful of actually killing the engine, putting it in neutral or putting the kickstand down, it would continue on down the road without him.  Of course, I didn't see or think any of this until later.  I was just watching the clouds roll by and wondering where it went wrong.

My left leg was free.  No troubles there.  A twitch of my right leg told me I hadn't gotten off that easily.  It was under the bike somewhere.  But I wasn't feeling any pain.  That must be a good sign, right?

Oilburner did almost forget to put his kickstand down with all of his concentration focused on her.  This is the bad thing of couples riding together sometimes; the unaffected spouse witnessing disastrous events, and not able to do anything about it.  Approaching, he saw her foot was trapped and his stomach was in his throat.  The trapped leg twitched a little and suddenly she is free.  She still isn't moving though.  Is she OK?

Kill the downed bike and he can hear laughter on the air.  He leans over her prone body, looks into the little viewport and sees mirth and merriment in her eyes.  If he could have seen her mouth through the chin bar he would have seen the smile he loves surrounding by laughter.

I lay there taking stock.  If the leg doesn't hurt just pull it a little and see if it comes free.  Huzzah!  I remained laying there with my arms flung wide and just started laughing.  A disembodied helmet leaned into my movie screen, with eyes big as saucers and full of worry.  The worry subsided a little and was supplanted with confusion.

For my first "get off" I couldn't have planned it any more perfectly.

I was making a left turn from a stop.  Here in America that means having to go to the far lanes in the road. :)  I dutifully stopped and checked traffic in both directions on my little sub-division road.  I "rolled" on the throttle, did not target fixate on the road edge, and leaned into my turn.

Hmmm...that edge seems to be getting closer, not moving to my right.  Lean further.  I'm executing such a perfect lean, I should be dragging knee.  But that edge still is in my way...

I calculate that I'm still going to be executing my perfect lean at my healthy 3 mph when I reach proper travel direction DIRECTLY in that transition between asphalt road and grass.  No curbs in this neighborhood.  I don't want to still be leaned over when I hit that transition.  I can just imagine the bike slipping out, dumping me on the road.


As taught, I right the bike before applying the brakes.  That much I did do correctly.  But I seem to still be aimed at the grass.  I executed my turn perfectly, how could this be? (At this beginning stage in my riding career any lean feels like knee dragging race track leans.)  So obviously something went wrong.

As much as I want to panic stop, just pull in the clutch and grab a death grip on my front brake.  I also don't want to go sliding across the grass that way.

I'm coming in hot at a 45 degree angle to the transition line.  Luckily the grass is green, lush, level, and recently groomed.  Unfortunately, it doesn't remain level very long and the beginning of a man dug drainage ditch that parallels the road is where I am headed.  It's a small ditch here though, maybe a foot wide, lined with grass.

I reach the obstacle just before the ditch starts in earnest, so I only feel a minor bump.  I safely, and successfully, brake to a stop on the top of the berm.  I have a fraction of a second to realize that I AM ALIVE and still upright when my traitorous motorbike slips down into that 6 inch deep canyon and bucks me off to the right.  I have a flicker of time to remember to roll limply like a rag doll.  Most "older" people break things when they react by flinging an arm out trying to catch themselves.  If I just roll with it I might not hurt anything.

This is how I end up laying on my back, taking an unexpected break, watching a moving cloud picture, arms and legs flung to the wind, laughing.  This falling thing wasn't so hard.


Disclaimer: This experience occurred in June 2008.  My pride wasn't wounded as I lived by the motto "Not if, but when."  I knew it would happen, just not when.  I couldn't have hoped for a better induction to motorbiking life.  This occurred on my first bike, a 2005 Suzuki S50 (think Intruder 800).  It broke a turn signal, but those things just begged to be destroyed.


  1. You haad me worried there for a bit! Bloody nutter u, dont scare me like that, I hope the grass recovered ok though.

  2. I am with Roger on this, you scared the heck out of me, but after description of what happened, I had to let out a fairly relieved giggle. Been there, done that. As you've summed it up, it is 'not if, but when'. Now stop doing this to us.

  3. Steel Cupcake:

    I nearly had heart failure. Don't do this . . .

    Riding the Wet Coast

  4. Yes, after the scare, a good chuckle! :)

    Been there done that, but it was a right turn (still my bane). Glad you got back on to ride again!

  5. The maxim of "where you look is here you go" seems to work! Therefore when I ride on a precipitous mountain rod I do not look over the edge!

    Crocs(tm) doing fine in UK and receive daily use!


  6. ... I meant "road"!

    my rod riding days are long gone!

  7. Nicely written. You had me scared at first. You drew me in nicely. Glad this became a humorous memory to be shared rather than a very painful learning experience.

    Your observation about couples riding together touched a nerve. As Heather makes noises about riding I think about such a scene as you describe. I can imagine the worry, fear, and . . . anger Mr. Oilburner was experiencing. Knowing it isn't a case of if, but when is small comfort.

    Thanks for the share. Glad the posts are coming more frequently again.

  8. Nikos:via: steel cupcake:

    send photos of your crocs(tm), I wanted her to send you the Pink ones, but she chickened out.

    from sunny BC
    Riding the Wet Coast

  9. This is a good post. A lead in that definitely got my attention followed by a humorous story. And I must admit that the storyline was all too familiar.


  10. Great post. I am glad you shared your experience.

    I wondered when it occurred as I didn't think you had a cruiser now. Glad it turned out as well as it did and you were not hurt.

  11. Raftnn: Such a way with words and vocabulary down there. I love "bloody nutter". Dug the ditch a millimeter deeper, broke the turn signals a couple more times, the grass was just fine. :)

  12. Hi Sonja: Thank you for making me giggle myself. You've scared me yourself with a tale or two of yours. :) Good to return the favor.

    I was just happy I was able to laugh at the time too. Yes, I was a little shaken up and had issues with lefts for a very long time, though.

  13. Hi Bobskoot: No heart attacks on my watch!!

  14. Hi Bluekat: I'm happy that my misfortune is bringing laughter to you and so many others. ;) Well...did it to myself too. Am happy to know that it was worth a laugh or two.

    Yes, you will know exactly what I am talking about with your "right turn" bane. Good luck working through that. Just stop thinking about it. hehe.

  15. Hi Nikos: Are you intimating that I was focused on the transition line and not my rod...er, road? :)

    Well...you might be right. hehe

    The Crocs(tm) have invaded the UK, and the man-eaters have arrived on the island. :) Glad they are being good to you.

  16. rode, road, rod, rad...no days are gone!

  17. Hi Circle Blue: Thank You! Baby steps defined my learning process. :)

    As far as couples riding, this one turned out good. I have another intense one that we have lived through. That one hasn't written itself yet.

    Just think that the worry you might have for Heather is the same worry she has for you when you go on your jaunts. Us, on the bikes, sometimes forget the risks to ourselves.

    Just hugs and faith. :)

  18. Bobskoot: The blue ones match his bike. ;)

  19. Hi RichardM: Thank you! Sharing is good. When you can laugh it is even better. LOL!

  20. Hi Trobairitz: I think we can learn as much from the funny experiences as the bad ones. Sometimes better lessons because it doesn't come with the pain. And I am getting better at laughing at myself now. hehe

    Smart catch on the cruiser reference. ;)

  21. Dear Steel Cupcake:

    I figured for sure you had just dumped it... Then was rather relieved to see this happened 3 years ago. I still can't figure out exactly what happened here, but I'm delighted it didn't entail a runaway garbage truck, an old lady making a left turn, and a ride to the hospital in a screaming ambulance.

    Great writing style with a clever "she did" and "he saw" twist.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  22. Lori,

    I'm glad to see you didn't give it up. My brother recently put a (my) f650gs down in the grass. He was shaken, and took a break. Five minutes later, I made him get back on (in the safest direction possible.) You've got to do it again, correctly, before you get scared. Even my mother-in-law, a horse rider, agrees - when you get bucked off, you've got to get back on that horse and ride.

    I'm glad to see you stuck with it. There is so much to see and experience in the saddle, it would have been a shame to lose you so early on. Nice touch with 'my knight in matte mesh armor.' Good writing and I'm glad to see he, you both, were geared up for the occasion.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  23. Nice, very nice. Like many others before me, it drew me in and I felt relieved to discover this was in the past. Beautifully crafted, like a cupcake with a cherry on top.

  24. I've got an incredibly strong heart. I needed it for reading this post. Yikes! Now I can exhale! Funny--eventually!