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The Reality of it all?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by Deadsy, May 9, 2013.

  1. My opinion on many things related to motorcycling has changed quite a bit since I started riding in November 2006. As my riding skills evolved, so too did the perspectives through which I viewed motorcycling. On this very forum I have argued passionately based on my views and attacked harshly those who disagreed with them. I was so convinced I knew the answers, you see. I falsely adopted the mindset that my perspective equalled reality. As if the two things reflected each other perfectly, like a mirror. Perhaps it was more like a reflection on the surface of a pond. It's not solid, and if you disturb it the ripples will distort it.

    On Saturday 4th May at around 6pm, a minute from home, someone threw a rock into that pond and now there is confusion where before there was clarity. Doubt seeps its way into things I was so certain about. What exactly am I talking about? A minute from home, I crashed. I broke Rule 1 of motorcycling, the rule I worked so hard to avoid breaking since I first got my license. I read books, I read things online and, of course, I spent a lot of time on Netrider, trying to learn and better understand these addictive and beautiful two wheeled things. I watched crash videos on youtube and told myself I would avoid making those same mistakes. I practiced emergency braking, and laughed inside my helmet at anyone with a quizzical look on their face as they passed me by as I measured stopping distances. I read the "I crashed" threads of other members here on this very forum, and many times I wondered how they didn't do this or that differently. If they had, they would have gotten home like nothing happened. A minute from home, four nights ago, I got my answer.

    Maybe things did go differently 99 times before. All of these things we do to better ourselves as riders do help, our skills do grow. Yet even if they get us through near disasters 99 times, it only takes that single one where everything doesn't go according to plan for us to pay a heavy price. My perspective shaped me into believing that I could avoid things 100 per cent of the time. Reality doesn't seem to work that way.

    She had plenty of time. The lady waiting to make a right hand turn. There was a car ahead of me that she waited for and the gap between us was probably sufficient enough for her to turn after that car passed and before I was too close. For whatever reason, a reason I will probably never know, she waited. And waited. I rolled off the throttle just a little as usual when there is an oncoming car waiting to turn across my path. "Just in case". And at some point I decided that the danger had passed, or lessened. She hadn't pulled across my path, I was almost past her. And then she turned. It happened so much quicker than I imagined it would be like. In my mind, imagining the scenario, I would brake hard, wipe off some speed and then try to swerve around her as she realised her mistake and stopped in the middle of the road. Perspective. Opinion. The Universe laughs at such things. That's not reality. It felt like I had 1 second to react, and I reacted with 1 second of sheer disbelief. I managed a pathetic attempt at moving further left before reality's version of "snap out of it" greeted with me with the loudest, most violent CRUNCH I can remember. And then the unpleasant sensation of being kicked off and over my bike was followed by the peaceful, quiet and calm of flying 10 metres through the air.

    All that braking practice? It helped avoid trouble in the past, this time there wasn't even anything for the police to measure for their reports. I never even touched them. One of the many jarring contrasts between my perspective and reality that I am trying to deal with.

    Thanks for bearing with me. I now come to the core point of my little thread. The reality is I hit that car once in the physical world, but I've hit it a hundred more times in my mind at night. I don't mean nightmares or anything like that. I'm pretty positive and feel ok, I just keep dwelling on it and running it through my head. Over and over again. I have to distract myself to avoid focusing on it.

    The physical fractures will heal with time, and I was lucky in that regard, but to those of you who have crashed, how do you deal with it mentally? A week ago I would have laughed at anyone who asked if I would ride again after a crash. Now there is fear. I cannot remember ever feeling this way before. My mind is drifting toward track bikes. It's one of the many things within me that I was so sure were solid that have turned out to be just like that reflection in a pond.
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  2. Thanks for the heads up on a very real possibility for all of us out there. I`m much like you and am learning all the time and I practice every ride to hone my skillset but when something as instant as a car pull out right on you.......where do you go????
    I trust your landing was not too tramatic. Sometimes its good to sail over the bike/car I suppose. Miss all the metal.
    I`m paying more attention out there after your post Deadsy. Thanks for sharing.
  3. Hope you are ok physically and heal quickly.
  4. I didn't come off so my crash wasn't a big deal (also a vehicle [bike] turning in front of me). But if I had of trusted my instinct more it wouldn't of happened (I knew he was going to pull out in front). So, I trust my instinct more.

    (A couple of quality scotches will surely help ease the mind)
  5. The reality is you could die. The "how" part is not important. It really doesn't matter HOW. As you said yourself, the other bikes you saw there had cosmetic damage but their masters were no longer with us.

    We all think we understand and accept that. It isn't easy (or possible?)

    I ask myself the same thing all the time. Is it worth the risk? Will today be my last commute? What IF this or that... Sometimes it eats into my sleep before a day of fun riding. I get anxious, over think everything, feel uncertain. I know other riders feel it too. It's an unspoken truth. I noticed this on my recent 5 day trip into the high country. I can read it from their faces (as I'm sure they can mine). What will the road be like? Will there be wildlife? What if......? Oh are we really going to do that bit of road I hate again?

    Then I turn the key and get on with it. Riding pulls me back into the moment. I feel it is a good thing. I want to have those challenges in my life. I don't want to live comfortably with everything a certainty.

    The reality is... shit happens.

    Get well soon. Track bike, fcuk yeah.. :)
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  6. I'm glad you shared your story, because I can see where your coming from . . I strayed to the left verge of a pretty mild rh corner for no obvious reason I can remember and the next thing I have stood the bike up and run into an open dirt area. I glanced off a tree and went through the air.

    I still wonder what made me move to the left too far .. no idea really, but after all I had read and watched, and the forum threads I pulled apart to decipher what was done wrong so I didnt do the same, I thought I had it somewhat down, that it wouldn't happen to me .. how wrong I was

    Blackadder says "The reality is .. shit happens"

    I also say "The reality is ... reality happens"

    Glad to see your ok
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  7. Sorry to hear about the crash Deadsy and hope you heal up quickly. I have never crashed on the road so can't really say what I would do post accident. With my current understanding and mindset, once I heal up, I'll ride again but less frequently. Obviously this will depend on the severity of the accident.

    With your description of the accident, I can't imagine that you could have done anything differently short of an ejection seat. Add this incident to the pile of completed hard learning experiences, it is knowledge and knowledge is quite useful. It does suck that some things are learned the hard way, but that can't always be avoided.

    I know it will be hard not to dwell on it, but give it time and those multiple scenarios will fade. Definitely talk to others about it, this can ease your mind by help of positive reinforcement...thinking about it yourself can be detrimental, adding further doubt to the incident through scenarios that never happened.

    Post race accident I had many scenarios running through my mind, what if, what if, what if...in the end, after speaking to those involved, the people who saw it and the damage to the bikes, I accepted it as what it is, what's done is done and no more ifs or buts. Taking the bike back on the track for a test was a big step and definitely helped me regain some confidence. I am mentally ready to race again...financially is a different story.

    Using your analogy, like a ripple in a pond, over time, will fade and the water will be clear again.
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  8. #8 SevenSins, May 9, 2013
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
    Hi Deadsy,
    sorry to hear abbout your experience.
    I've had an accident, I crashed and broke my shoulder and totalled the bike after a woman drove in front of me at a roundabout.
    I was brand new then, 3 months into riding and I was NOT deemed at fault, she was, however I know now that is has changed my approach to riding and I certainly take on big roundabouts very differently. To the point that the exact same scenario has happened to me repeatedly at roundabouts (3 times at the same one...nasty one it's like a washing machine) whereby cars have suddenly driven out in front of m,e despite me being ON the roundabout, therefore having right of way, the big difference is that I now see it a mile off and deal with it accordingly.

    As for reliving it over and over... YEP, big time.
    this is a pretty normal reaction to an event and there is always some psychological impact. Both your body and your mind will heal, it may take some time.

    As a learner, I never thought...'oh it won't happen to me', I always thought 'well if it happens, it happens.'... so when it did happen I thought 'Oh so that's what it's like to crash...yeah don't want to do that again anytime soon.' then the man with the short shorts running over asking if I was ok and pulling my mangled bike off me. I didn't care about my body I was just so upset at my poor beloved mangled bike.

    However at no point did I ever contemplate NOT riding. As soon as I got home I was looking at next bike options. BUT I consider my incident to be reasonably low key... compared to other experiences... something to think about.

    Hope you feel better soon...
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  9. Would it help with your acceptance of things if you were able to put it down to something as simple as "random shit happens"..? Sometimes, unfortunately, your life is dependent on things as trivial as whether someone else has seen you or not. Sometimes it really is possible to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In some ways I wonder whether your steadfast belief that you could solve for every possible situation on the road is why you're having trouble coming to terms with this.

    Your roadcraft is obviously at the level where it took 7 years for this to happen. That's not a bad effort. Based on some of the posts around here some people seem to have near-death oh-sh1t moments every 7 minutes or so. I think you should be congratulated on that, and it's worth considering that if you were to get back on a bike again it's unlikely that you'll be riding in such a way that your likelihood of being involved in an accident is any higher than it was before. Is a non-fatal accident every 7 years on average acceptable risk for the benefits that you get from motorcycling?

    The reality is that life is full of risks. We all do whatever we can to reduce them to a level where we're comfortable, but they're always there.

    You could shield yourself from a lot of risk by never leaving your home if you felt so inclined, but then you're likely to end up falling victim to obesity or depression or one of a thousand other problems that come through boredom, isolation and lack of physical exercise.

    My philosophy is that there are far worse ways to die than to have it happen while doing something that you enjoy. You can't choose when you're going to die, but you can choose to have fun living until it happens. If you enjoy riding do it. If it scares you shitless, don't - that's fine too. Just try not to read too much into a random occurrence - and remember that the likelihood of future problems is (touch wood) no higher than it was before the accident. :)

    Disclaimer: I haven't had a major off. Yet.
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  10. I had a couple of bingles 6 months apart. Had another couple a few years ago. All of them, except the last, I didn't have too much trouble reconciling. The first couple were my mistake and even though there were mitigating circumstances I just had to live with the fact I was a muppet.

    The second last one was someonelses fault and like yours it ate at me, because it was difficult to see what I would have done differently. Like you it rattled me, but I got back on the bike.

    The last one I had there was no good reason for. I just went down, trying to avoid two cars crashing. i shouldn't have done, but I did. I got back on the bike, but it had me doubting whether I should be riding in traffic everyday.

    Now circumstance has me spending time off the bike and to be honest I'm not that stressed by it. I found that Sydney traffic was stressing me more and more and I was enjoying the riding less and less.

    So I'm not sure how to answer you quest except to say every crash is different and I understand where you are coming from. I did find after all of them, it took me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things. I was very stiff in style up to then.

    I myself will get back on the bike eventually, it's just at the moment the hunger isn't that strong. It won't be 20 years like some people, but it will be another 18 months at least.
  11. Oh!!! also I believe for you it is difficult as you took such care to be in control and prepared... To suddenly have that CONTROL you worked so hard to gain, simply taken away from you can send a person into a spiral headspin. Their reality or life as they knew it has suddenly shifted, and to discover that some things are simply beyond any control is a very difficult concept to grasp.
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  12. Glad you are not too badly hurt deadsy, I am sure things are worse whilst they are still fresh in your mind, but time is a great healer of the mind and body.

    You will probably find by the time you are healed , you will be itching to ride again, sure you may be nervous but you will probably find the doubts ease away once you can ride again with the mastery of the steed under your control once more
  13. I reckon fear in this circumstance is normal. It'd be quite natural to chew over it for a while and think of "what ifs" and so-forth which can make your natural caution worse. Hopefully you'll rationalise it and go through it but it might take a bit of a push. Give it some time. It doesn't sound like there was much more you could have done.
    A case of "schit happens" which is much easier to say when it doesn't happen to you.
    I'm reminded of:

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  14. Dude that's an awesome post. Shame it's come following something as nasty as it is, but that makes me all the more appreciative.

    I'm a total nub on a bike, still have my shiny "L" on the back, and full of the usual newby enthusiasm. Posts like this help reinforce the realities, and help to form a better (in my current opinion) mental approach to the ride.

    It's easy and mucho to say "yeah I'm prepared to face the risk", but once that risk slaps you around the head, it's a very different scenario. So thank you for your very humble post. It'll help me a lot.

    BTW - it's particularly well written! And Sherlock, nice Dune reference :p I do appreciate good writing :)
  15. Took me about two years to get over my crash, mentally speaking. Injuries will be for life.
    The crash will always be there in the back of your mind and it will affect the way you ride in the future. The way i ride now is also different compared to when i first started. Im probably more cautious now, even though some days i wish i wasn't. Makes me appreciate those days where caution has disappeared and is replaced by the joy that is being out there.

    As for dealing with the crash. I really wanted to be the guy who just walked away, unfazed. At first i seemed OK, But as the days rolled on i realised i wasn't going to be that guy. It seemed to I may have been suffering from PTS and a bout of depression. In hindsight i needed to be more direct about talking to others. Something i now actively do with my friends who ride, or don't ride. Two of my mate have had crashes recently, one had his knee torn up from a roo jumping in front of him and the other only happened over this easter. He hit a rock and came off. He had a head injury, lost vision temporally and 1 kidney. I've been keeping an eye on them and an ear ready.

    But there was no fear from riding again. In fact i couldn't wait to get back on. I needed to. If i needed a reason it was to proove i could still do it. I think i just find riding too much fun.

    I have to hand it to you in how you described your reaction when the crash happened. All it takes is a second to react, but in that second you are thinking is this really happening. I've been thinking about my own crash and what i was thinking before hand and i would have to agree there's disbelief rather than battle stations.

    With what Blackadder said, yes we all die, and that is a mindset i guess we all live with. But a friend of my sisters crashed and didn't die, but was in complete agony from a broken neck, that he was asking his mates around him to kill him.
    Makes me very thankful that my situation and yours turned out better. But it something else i keep in the back of my mind that i don't want to end up that way.

    Dont be afraid if you aren't the guy who is unfazed we can never really predict how we will react after a crash, just as we can never really be certain how you'll react just before a crash.

    Deadsy, i hope it goes well for you stay strong and get back out there as soon as you can.
  16. Sorry to hear of your crash, Deadsy. I've always enjoyed what you write on here and learnt a lot from it.

    There's many different reactions to any traumatic situation. Some can be problematic and require professional help, but that's not that common. Talking/writing about what your going through sounds like a pretty healthy response to me. Problem with doing this on an internet forum is that you may find there are some less that helpful comments, and perhaps talking about what you're going through with trusted family and friends might be more advisable.

    If on the off chance you find you are not your usual self in a few months, perhaps consider getting checked out?

    I seem to recall a few people on here suggesting its important to get back on the bike sooner, rather than later, but I guess you are well aware of that. I'm not really sure of the true importance of that, but it does seem to make sense.

    Good luck with it all.
  17. Dude, in some respects you've had a near death experience and some aspects of your riding self image have died with this incident, so you have a lot to deal with - the mental side is the worst. You have a process to go through, like a mourning process. Talk it through with anyone who'll listen. Journalise about it if you need too. Get it out of your head.

    If I've learned anything about you, you're a stubborn prick who understands what you were striving for and you will get there again. You've done it once, the second time round will be done with the benefit of hard won lessons, so should take a little less time. Give it some space and this side of your riding brain will push through.

    If I can get on my soapbox for a second, you have taken rider onus to it's peak. You have sharpened your skills to uber levels and they've served you well. You managed to reduce your probability of an incident to very low levels. That probability was never zero though - sometimes rider onus tricks us into thinking that it is. This incident will serve you well into the future - you might not see it just yet.

    I'll give you a few days, then I'm going to hit you with the tough love :) And I suspect it won't anywhere near as tough as what you're putting yourself through.

    Heal up mate. Focus on getting you and the bike better, then decide.
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  18. Great thread deadsy!

    I've come off due to a rear brake lockup... I always think back if I'd taken smithfield road, I may not be here to talk bout it... too many semi's on that road.

    I'm always anxious whenever a car. bus, truck or another bike wants to turn in front of me!!!

    What has become habitual to me now when that happens is i sway left and right to gain attention of driver/rider... If i get that feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me this driver/rider is useless and won't see me... I hit the horn and hold it till I'm past. However, i think it's just a matter of time when all that will fail.... like everything else.... it's a numbers game... always has been.

    Goodluck and Ride safe
  19. Laid my bike down a few times... Personal view is fcuk track bikes...sure there's shitty roads and dickhead drivers To compete with off the track but I'd much rather explore and tackle long stretches of road time and time again than go round in circles on the small handful of tracks we have on offer in Australia....and then to have to pay for the joy of such a thing???

    Give me a few demerit points and a fine every blue moon over that any day

    Used to love the idea of track days then I realised - cutting in and out of that pain in the ass traffic...testing your reactions avoiding potholes and changing your lines mid-corner to avoid bumps...all that shit and more is apart of what I love about riding

    I hope you heal up quick mate- we're here to have fun...everyone's going out ...act accordingly.
  20. You can crash into a pole at 2AM at night at 40km/hr and you can die.
    You could have your knee down on a corner that suddenly turns into gravel and you can die.
    You could be doing an early morning commute at your 05:00-13:00 job, get hit by a car and you can die.

    But then...

    You could be crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing and get killed by a person driving a car.
    You could walk outside, trip over a stone, land onto a needle some druggie has left in a scrub, contract HIV/Aids and eventually die. Or smash your head onto the pavement and die.
    You could well be playing with your pet dog in your top-storey apartment at a 7 storey apartment complex, fall off the balcony and die.

    Keeping yourself alive in this life is all about mitigating risk as much as possible. Just keep on doing what you love and do as much as you reasonably can in order to mitigate the risk involved as much as possible. That is what I live my life by and that is what I will continue to do, although I am admittedly a little lazy in the risk mitigation department, which I know I need to work on because I am putting my life in danger by being lazy.
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