I try to be a sensible rider. I started reading about safe motorcycling as soon as we decided to get a bike. I practice my e-braking and cornering in carparks under safe conditions. I don't lane-split (as a rule). In times of poor visibility I wear a hi-vis vest to compensate. I try to improve my skills and at the same time ride within my abilities. Of course, the problem is that as a newbie I have only a hazy understanding of what "my abilities" actually are. Well... slightly less hazy after my ride into the hills on Saturday. Hippo had offered to take me up the Mt Dandenong tourist road, and I happily accepted. I've been riding for a little over two months, and this was my first chance to get out of the city and try some twisty roads. I've done Yarra Boulevard a few times, both on newbie rides and on my own, and I practice my cornering (albeit at 40 kph) on the Albert Park grand prix track, but I hadn't made it out for a long run of twisty road. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I tried to ride slow enough to be safe. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a kind of monologue running through my head when I'm practicing a new technique. I'll be approaching a turn and think something like this: Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... aaaaaaaand we're through! I'm sure that this will become second nature, and the internal monologue will fade away with time, but for now it helps me focus on doing the right thing. When I feel like I'm not going to make a turn it goes more like this: Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... Not enough lean! Running wide! OK, OK, look further through the corner, push more on the bar, lean lean, lean... aaaaaaaand we're through! I had the same kind of monologue running through my head as we rode down the Mountain Highway from Sassafrass on Saturday. The weather was perfect, the bike was behaving itself, and I was having a wonderful time. We'd made it up the hill with no problems. The CBR125 is really nimble, but it did struggle on the hills a little and needed to be revved fairly high. I blame myself rather than the bike for that though - I'm quite a bit bigger and a lot heavier than the intended market for this bike. I'm sure that if my wife was riding it would have handled the gradient much better. Then it happened. I came to my first sharp hairpin. It was there that I discovered that knowing all about the common newbie mistakes doesn't actually stop you from making them - it just means that you recognise them as they are happening. My internal monologue for that corner ran more like this: Slow before the turn... Now look through the turn... OK, now body weight to the inside... Lean the bike... Not enough lean! Running wide! And that's where things went wrong for me. The turn had a decreasing radius to the right (which is not my preferred side), and the trees meant that I couldn't see right through the corner. I'd slowed down, but not enough. Enough for my bike, I'm sure - but not enough for me. I watched first hand as those pesky survival reactions kicked in and I did exactly the wrong thing. No no no no! Don't hit the brakes! You'll run wide! I hit the brakes. I ran wide. Shit! I told you not to do that! OK, look down the road and do a quick stop. Don't look at the embankment or you'll hit it. I looked at the embankment, not the road. Oh shit! Now luckily for me this bend has a run-off area, and by the time I had reached it I had already scrubbed off a lot of speed. Of course, the run-off area has a lovely, thick layer of decayed leaf litter, dirt, some weeds, and a delightfully slippery coating of freshly fallen leaves. As soon as my wheels hit this I found myself horizontal instead of vertical without seeming to go through the usual transitional angles. I'm ashamed to say that my only thought at this point was... Not the helmet! Judging by the marks left in the dirt the bike and I slid for only a metre before coming to a halt. I am considerably wider than the cibby, so it spent most of the time supported by my ample leg. I scrambled out from under the bike and frantically tried to get the thing upright before any cars came around the bend to witness my ignominious condition. I was acutely embarrassed at having done exactly what I was determined not to do: ride too fast, run wide, and fall off. Two cars stopped and asked if I was OK, which I assured them was the case. A rider who was coming up the hill did a u-turn and pulled in to help me assess myself and the bike. He suggested that we roll the bike back and forth a bit to make sure that everything was still turning smoothly, and I was delighted to find that it was. After a momentary worry when the bike wouldn't start I realised it was still in 4th gear. I changed back down to neutral and the bike fired straight away. We straightened the indicator out and plucked some grass from the fairings, and then with my overwhelming gratitude following in his wake the helpful rider took off up the hill. (I didn't get your name, but if you are a Netrider let me say thanks again!) I climbed back on and made it the rest of the way down the hill to where Hippo was waiting for me without incident. A bunch of other riders who had seen me on the side of the road had stopped and let her know that I had stacked, and when I turned up they waved and took off. After a brief rest to let the adrenalin die down we turned around and went back up the hill. We did the same stretch of road again after a coffee break and I took things just a little slower and had no problems. In a nutshell I would describe my stack as follows: 100% predictable. 100% avoidable. 100% my fault. In closing, I thought I'd give a quick write up of how my gear handled the stack. Apart from a stiff neck (from trying not to let my precious helmet hit the ground - what an idiot!) I was completely unscathed. The bike slid along with my leg pinned underneath, but by A* Supertech R boots and Draggin jeans held up magnificently. No sign of damage to either. I was also impressed by my Dainese vented jacket. It has dirt and grass stains along the right arm, mainly over the shoulder armour and the elbow/forearm armour. This suggests to me that the designers knew what they were doing when they positioned the armour in the jacket. Well, that was a long post about a little crash, but as a learning experience I think that it was valuable. For instance, I now know that even when your conscious mind knows what to do, your body can do the exact opposite. I also know that the little wheel slides I've felt on wet pavement or tram tracks are nothing like what awaits you once you leave the tarmac. I went down so fast I didn't even notice it happening. And most importantly I know that riding within your abilities is actually harder when you don't know exactly where that threshold between control and panic lies.