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Getting back into the pilot seat after injuries.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by thatdarnweasel, May 1, 2012.

  1. read on for 'my life story'.

    Seven weeks ago, I came off my motorcycle. It wasn't a serious off, (if there are offs that aren't taken seriously), meaning that I am here to tell the tale, and don't have any major disfigurements. It was a low speed low-side coming out of a round-about caused by... oh, a handful of things.

    I am a learner, a bitumen noobie. I'd only been in the saddle for two weeks when I came off. A lot of things are not natural that should be second nature when riding and my bike feels just a little bit alien at times, especially when stopping in traffic or launching at the lights where the fear of stalling gnaws in my gut. I think I've been approaching riding the right way, understanding that I don't know what I'm doing, reading a lot of superb advice here on netrider and trying to apply that in practice, taking it easy because sometimes the bike feels like an extra limb that I have to make operate in time with my others, and then going out running with it.

    At first, when I was just entertaining the idea of getting a motorcycle I was pretty uncertain that I was even going to have the chops to be able to ride. After all, I’m pretty unco with the entire left side of my body, ( I reckon I'm lucky to not trip over my left foot half the time). Plus, I’ve been only been behind the wheel of a cushy, unexciting, FWD auto all of my driving life. dealing with all four limbs doing something at the same time AND a clutch had me scooting off to some one-on-one training to see if this dream of riding was something I was actually capable of.

    It went great. Fueled by excitement and willingness to learn, I soaked up every bit of advice and guidance readily. The bike felt just right squeezed between my knees, the clutch wasn’t complicated and man was it awesome being pushed down into the seat while smoothly rolling on that throttle when you can see the straight-away coming just after mid corner. I already knew to stick to a late apex to see everything you can in the corner, and set you up for the next corner from advice from friends and it rocked.
    The instructor seemed genuinely impressed with how I did considering how uncertain I was to begin with, and was laughing when I was 'having too much fun' and scraping pegs / drop bars on the trainer bike. We did cone weaves and emergency stops and slow riding in that three hour session. He said I was a natural.

    "Cool! I'm a natural!" It stuck with me. How could it not?
    Armed with this boost, I got my bike the next weekend, a 2001 VTR250.


    Got my L's without any real trouble, though that first day of confidence was a little bit more wobbly with other people being timid and uncomfortable on the bike around.

    My bike wasn't quite as confidence inspiring as the CB250 I'd trained on, and did my L's test on. I felt more wobbly on it, more afraid of dropping it. It doesn't tip in to corners as easily. (Maybe it needs new tyres? I really don't know!)

    It was my first 'long' riding day when it happened - I'd spent that afternoon in some twisties trying out knowingly counter-steering, pushing on the bars seeing how it felt, what it did to the bike, how quick it'd make it jink to the side. It felt pretty good. I was also pretty tired, not enough sleep, and we'd been riding for a few hours prior earlier in the day. I was over-extending myself, and that was Mistake #1. Probably a large portion of what contributed to my following poor judgment.
    Mistake #2 was that after all this spirited cornering, I felt pretty good about this large round-about that we were to exit off onto a distributor - i felt it was time to get on the gas to get to freeway speed. Only, it wasn't. Not quite for my skill level it wasn't. Opened the throttle too early mid direction change and went way wide on the exit of the roundabout and into a massive patch of gravel on the outside of the left-hand curve the on-ramp took.
    In hindsight (I've had six weeks to think hard, over and over and over what i did wrong!) with more experience, i bet i could have shoved that left handlebar to counter steer hard enough to avoid going wide after i went into that left-hand turn too hot. But, it was not an instinct. I freaked out and stiffened up, then was eyeing the gutter i was target fixating on - Mistake #3. I found, suddenly, that I was on gravel, on my side under the bike. Didn't even realise it was there until i was sliding along in it.
    That was Mistake #4. I didn't even see the gravel there at all until it was all up in my face. Pretty concerning.

    So, I put it down to over extending myself, over confidence, over tiredness, and lack of experience... I shouldn't have been riding then, really. Was not quite on the ball. I'm sure I would have had better judgment on another day.

    The good news is that the only damage my bike took was a bit of a scuff on the front wheel arch and aftermarket windshield, broken left peg and bent clutch lever. I didn't realise I'd broken any bones until about 5 minutes afterwards, after I'd picked up the bike on my busted ankle and sat down to take all of my gear off. Adrenaline and shock, you so funny.
    My gear took a large brunt of the road, scuffs along the elbow and shoulder where it wore through a bit, the inside of my left boot which was caught under the bike is all scuffed up and worn down - my ankle must have been twisted around to do that. I don't even know how i broke my right thumb since the bike was on it's left side. Handlebars jerking, maybe?

    My dri-rider vortex pants were a massive let-down. Granted, I had no liners in, so they were a little bit loose, but that doesn't excuse the bursting seams at the knee - I can't have been going more than 40kms, probably less. Will NOT buy dri-rider again. The road rash I got from this was probably the most painful injury of all three.


    My mate who was riding behind me took a spill as well, target fixated on me and locked up the front wheel. Damn. We'll go and get some intermediate rider training together when I'm up to it, and let him lead in the future.

    Some awesome people, fellow riders, stopped on their way to a party to help us out. They had a bike trailer, and got me home. I'm very grateful to them, and if i ever can help out a fellow rider in trouble, I will do so if only to spread the warmness of their generosity.

    But, before all of that, the day was exhilarating. Just knowing when I'd nailed a corner then rolling on, being pushed down into the seat with the lean of the bike... man, I love it. I love the exposure, the gritty realness of it, feeling the road in your grip and the smell of your surroundings. There's an acute sense of awareness of being right where you are, none of this detachment you get when in the safe, comfortable little bubble of a car. Its the difference of going to a zoo and peering at bored animals through inch-thick glass, and getting out on the savannah and experiencing where they live.
    Its a visceral experience, and it excites me. It's almost spiritual. It makes me want to go places that I've never been, explore the back country road, seek out those places where there is romance and beauty in simple things, and really -be- there, mechanical steed having trodden the hard path to get there, a camera in my backpack. My bike is something I can take pride in, spit and polish. Pull it apart and do some of my own servicing on it, really get to know it and the way it breathes. This is what I want to do with my weekends.

    That's the dream, anyway. Some day, I'll go on a tour, and really get out there.

    Now when I sit on my bike, its a massive swinging pendulum of fear and excitement, my mind going between "This is a machine of pain that can damage me," and "This is something that is like being a kid riding a bicycle down hill really fast - all the time."

    I just got back from riding my bike again for the first time since then. Only half an hour of riding back and forth up and down the street - I'm very nervous, and my ankle and wrist are still pretty stiff from being immobilised. Physio is helping at least.
    I was very wobbly at first, reeeeally taking my time to find the bite, making sure to look where i want to turn, dragging the rear break when riding slow and doing tight u-turns... practicing hill starts, and general clutch control.
    I was not good at those things previously. I feel like I did much better now, after six weeks of soaking up advice here on netrider.

    This is where the proper learning really begins. This is the start of seeking that quest, riding my own ride, taking things at my own pace, and finding that perfect place of being right here on the bike with no strings and no windows to peer out of.

    Time to get out there... and really timidly putt around ;)

    • Like Like x 2
  2. First time I rode after my crash courtesy of some stupid asian biatch on an international licence I had to take off with my right foot down evey time, then once i clicked second use my hand to lift my foot onto the peg properly. Fair change I probably shouldnt have been back on it just yet but I couldnt wait!

    The important thing is that you do get back on imo
  3. Riding is about being free. About having fun.
    The road is not really the place to learn. For some though, there is no alternative.
    What happen to you can happen to an experienced rider. They usually are going a lot faster and the consequences more dramatic.
    If you cant wobble your elbows when your riding then your riding beyond your comfort zone.
  4. That was a fantastic read, and although I'm sorry about the crash and rehab, jeez it made for an interesting story!

    I completely know what you mean about the bike not being an extension of yourself, in the first few weeks after I started riding I would look down and realise I was just floating along on this machine (that I was very new at controlling) only a metre above the ground. Certainly puts things into perspective.

    Hope your healing continues to go well, and you applying everything you learnt.


  5. nice to see another person hating on dririder.

    I bought one of their jackets when i first started riding, god dam its crap. no joke i stay drier in my perforated race leathers then i do in my dri rider textile.

    And thats not a joke. i actually do.

    But its good to see your back on the bike, dont give up on it you were just unlucky to come off so soon. but hey hopefully you got your newbie crashing phase over and done with, im still waiting for mine.
  6. Hey mate , I have gone through time off the bike through injury, only my injury was through work. I have been doing physio and have slowly been getting back into it. I am now of my Vtr250 and riding my gsxr750. I rode up to bald hill the other day then through the national park and wasn't in pain. All good... Looking to build up to longer rides as the body gets stronger. I hope you get stronger and your riding gets easier. Good luck.
  7. all good bud' don't get put off your mistake that's why people(namely riders) will say dont buy a new bike for your first bike - as one way or another you're likely to make a mistake...some are simple things like leaving indicators on ect...others like yours are somewhat less forgiving ones....i've had a couple of stacks in my near year of riding now...bout 6 months back i'd broken my right ankle...after about 2-3 weeks of having my foot in a cast i was back out there on the bike at like 3am doing trips to the servo for smokes ect with the cast still on...probably not smart or advised...but...determination is part of what makes us riders..we do it because we love it...and won't let anything stop us doing so without a fight

    sorry to hear about your crash bud...just take whatever time you need to practice to get your confidence up - good write-up tho...especially considering your analyzing what happened and trying to question what you could've done to avoid it....we have to learn from our mistake's
  8. It's important that you haven't made any 'that's it, I'm selling the bike' decisions while the event is so close. You'll get back out there and store this one up in your experience bank.
  9. Never even crossed my mind. Well, maybe once, I tried to think hard about whether it's worth the risk. See above for the answer ;)
    Actually, the same day it happened I was so bummed that I was going to be missing out on at LEAST a month of riding practice. Heh.
  10. That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger! You've learned from it. You know what you did. Don't do it again and enjoy the ride I say. If you love riding as much as the rest of us the thought of selling your bike and giving up is not an option. Your passion for riding shows in your words, hold onto that if you ever have doubts. May you have many years of great riding and hope to see you on the road... Enjoy the ride...
  11. I'm just really dissapointed in them. Bike pants shouldn't fail in a sub-40 spill. Should they? Or are my expectations too high? I dunno.

    From the outside, you see two lines of stitching - I didn't really know what to look for in gear quality. I still don't, really. I mean, how can you tell if there's an extra hidden line of stitching at each join? I'm looking for pants with the fewest amount of seams lately, and even considering higher-cost leathers. Kind of floundering about what to consider, or how much to spend. Willing to pay for the quality, but how do you really know?

    And thanks, yeah, I hope that's my 'learner off' over and done with! No more of that, thanks.
  12. I broke my ankle a while back. Make sure you do your physio exercises religiously
  13. Just got back from another quick little practice ride. If only I had a permanently empty car park to warm up in.
    Steady throttle, knees squeezing, upper body steady while moving the bike back and forth underneath while touching me in just the right places, making big sweeping swerves. Felt good! Ready to face traffic :) Still need buttloads of work on launching and throttle blipping on downshifting.
    Very glad for the parking lot.
  14. This is all full of assumption, conjecture, and my own limited experience but it seems to me that the only thing that keeps rookie riders from eating tarmac in the first few months is just plain blind luck. Skill certainly isn't a factor cos in those first months there really isn't much skill to speak of.

    If you are lucky, you get to ride away from an 'incident', wash your tweeds out and tell yourself "I sure as he'll won't let that happen again". If you're not lucky, you get plenty of time on the couch to analyse what went wrong while you heal. If you're really UNlucky... Need I say more?

    I know for a fact that I was lucky on a number of occasions, so most of my learnings came without a price tag attached - except for dry-cleaning ofcourse :-s

    EDIT: BTW - glad that you are for the most part ok and back on the road
  15. I couldn't agree with this more. I've been I've only been riding for a few months now. Dropped the bike on my second day of lessons. Since then I've managed to stay upright but that was through no skill of my own. It was just plain luck. It's only now that I'm starting to feel like I could get out of a difficult situation if I needed to.
  16. At the subconscious level, we tend to ride based on our last ride and the memory that stuck with us.
    If your last ride was a ripper, then you'll be relaxed and confident, if the day was a mess, and you rode poorly, that will be undermining you on the current ride.
    In this case you crashed. So you need replace that lasting memory with something far more positive. That should be your aim, when you get back on.
    It may take you a few rides, to erase that very vivid memory of the crash, but at some point, you'll know it has happened.
    It is only now, that you can actually proceed, unencumbered, and begin to move on.
    Take it steady, take it easy, but you MUST ride with purpose, so set some attainable goals.

    You'll be right once you get going. :)
  17. I would hope not, I've had work slacks (not that I would recommend trying that one) and TDK jeans survive slides at around 40kph the slacks looked a bit ratty but no holes, and I still wear the jeans (though in both cases my boots and jacket shoulders took most of the damage from the slide).

    I doubt anyone thinks its to much to expect protective gear to do its job in a sub 40kph slide.

    Personally I'd shot dri-rider the pic and description of the crash and let them know that's why they wont see you're business again.

    Good to hear you haven't given up, there's enough risk adverse pussies in this world as it is. :p
  18. It was really weak stitching that did it in. two lines of stitching visible, but you wouldn't have known it. I did send on clear pictures and a letter to Dririder's distributor(?), mcleodaccess.com.au, (That's the only contact I could find) saying that I was sure this isn't acceptible and that i'd like to post about it on a riding forum - with zero response. Which is why I wasn't fussed about posting my grump about it here.

    Not giving up yet, some confidence is creeping back in at the edges! :)
  19. Thanks Raven!
    I'm definately seeing this in action.
    Been riding a few hours a day since saturday, and it was steadily getting easier and comfortable and feeling damn good until I thought, "Hey, I need to practice my hill starts now that things are going well," which is something I need a lot of work on.
    After a few embarrasing moments at two different traffic lights on hills that day, missing the lights and having to meekly roll my bike to the side of the road to let traffic pass... Today I was looking at my clutch lever like it was a snake. "What is this thing, how does this work?"
    Hahah. I'm certainly not rushing anyway.
    Cheers mate! :)
  20. Well done. You'll get there. :)