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Self-Inflicted Motorcycle Crashes

Are they worth the hassle?

A lack of understanding and good judgment are the two key ingredients that lead up to the self-inflicted motorcycle crash.

Self-inflicted motorcycle crashes not only inconvenience the rider, who may also be injured, but they inconvenience everyone else involved.

If you're going to have a self-inflicted motorcycle crash, you might as well do it at the track during track day. You are paying $150 a day so you can have a medic, cleanup truck and people around to pick you up when you fall. But crashing on a roadway outside the track just isn't what your riding buddies call having fun. Why not? Because they get to take time out of their day to clean you up.

First let's look at why self-inflicted motorcycle accidents happen. In all cases, it's because we're pushing the limit of our bikes beyond what the road ahead is prepared to allow. But it goes deeper than that. Many self-inflicted motorcycle accidents happen to those who have never taken a motorcycle safety class in their life. "I've been riding 28 years," commented one rider to me. I then asked him if he'd ever taken an MSF class. "No," he replied. That afternoon he crashed. In a motorcycle safety class we learn to ride at our ability. Ride beyond that and it's all a crap shoot.

Three recent self-inflicted crashes I was on hand for revealed another novice-type occurrence. According to the skid marks in all three crashes only the rear brake was used in an attempt to avoid the crash (see photo). An accredited motorcycle safety course teaches us how to use both brakes to stop. Using one brake creates serious complications all too often.

A better understanding of how to operate your motorcycle and make good judgment calls will keep you away from the ranks of the self-inflicted motorcycle crashers.

The consequences are no fun. Bones get broken, body work and beyond goes right down the toilet, friends are called in to tow the bike out. Is it really worth it to push just a bit more on a turn only to have these results occur?

When you crash, a number of people become inconvenienced. Everyone from the EMT to the officer writing the accident report, to your buddies who get to tow your bike out of the location 6 hours later, are all inconvenienced. This is not what motorcycling should be about.

Where is the race track? It's at the race track folks. That's the place to go push your limits. It's why they have track days. It's why you can become a racer. Around Mt. Rainier, the road to Windy Ridge, US-30 and all those other great roads � that's not the race track.

Mt. St. Helens ate so many bikes this summer there were extra patrols on hand. One wonderful line I heard from a self-inflicted crash victim on Mt. St. Helens was "I was just following his line" referring to the rider in front of him. That rider made the turn, but the SICV dropped his bike 20 feet into a ravine. Luckily he walked, but the hassle to get the bike out wasn't worth it.

I'm wondering if Mt. St. Helens is erupting again due to indigestion from eating all those bikes this summer?

If you're on the list of self-inflicted crash victims, ask yourself the question "Have I ever taken an MSF course?" If the answer is 'no,' sign up and move yourself further away from being a victim again. Sorry folks, 28 years of riding does not make you invincible from a crash, but an MSF class will lessen your chances.

TM/Fall04


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