Not So Common Sense

Random thoughts on random acts, from the mind of author Gavin Kingsley


Meet Suzie Vee. This is a story of my first real ride on a new (to me) motorcycle.

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Well, one thing is for certain, I will not need the writing exercise book today. Not after I finish telling you about my day yesterday. Remember how I was going back and forth about whether or not to ride my bike? Well, even after I discovered a leak in my radiator I decided to ride anyway. My reasoning for ignoring that possible safety issue is that I wanted Ryan to take a look and be sure there wasn’t a major issue. The first thing I noticed was that the temperature started to drop as I rode and I’m wondering if maybe I just let it idle too long.

Any who, I’m driving along, being careful to watch my speed until I can fully adjust to the new bike. I’m staying in lower gears, keeping my RPMs down, enjoying the ride. I’d adjusted my mirrors earlier and the adjustment was working great. I’m settling in and starting to feel comfortable on the bike. I’ve even been splitting lanes. All in all, I’m wary of the power in this bike. I know that if I’m not paying attention I can very quickly, very easily get to going faster than I mean to.

On the 10 going east there is a split at the 60 freeway, then after about another 3 miles there’s another split for the 5 freeway. You bend left at the 60, then if you plan to keep on the 10, you have to move to the right lanes to bend right. I’m always in one of the left lanes when I bend to the left at the 60. By the time of the interchange there are 5 lanes, the right most for the 10. So on any average day I’ll have to move across 3 lanes of traffic to keep my route. In 15 years of driving that route I’ve never had a problem making the change. This is because as soon as I come around the first bend I’m already scanning ahead to see how far I can go in the faster lanes before I have to merge. So I’m scanning my lane and the lanes over to plan my route. On the motorcycle it’s no different.

Until it is.

So I’m driving along with the speed of traffic. The freeway is full across all lanes but moving. Ahead of me is the car I’m following, I look to my right preparing to get over, not quite clear but no expected issues, I look straight ahead again and THERE’S A ROLL OF CARPET COMING STRAIGHT AT ME!

Oh shit, what do I do? I can’t get around it. I don’t feel confident enough for that kind of maneuver. It’s steadily getting closer, so I think the best thing to do is slow down so I can go over it. I pull in on the brake and clutch, but it’s not enough. I hit the carpet bundle, the impact causes me to grab tight both handles, the back end of my bike lifts up, I’m going down.

This part is a blur. I remember going up, but I don’t remember going down, just sliding. I remember thinking ‘I should probably stay loose, I’m not rolling and I don’t want to be’ and maybe a second after I finish that thought I finish sliding.

I sit up and I can see a car coming towards me. My thoughts now are ‘oh shit, there a car headed straight for me! Does he see me? He’s gonna stop right?’ He does, quite a distance away actually but it seemed closer.

I immediately get up and start looking for the bike. I’ve got traffic stopped across all lanes now. A few concerned drivers are out their cars to check on me. Highway Patrol flashes his light from the other side of the freeway (help is on the way). I still can’t find the bike. One lady yells “are you alright? the bike is up here”. Apparently it had traveled farther than I had. We go to lift the bike, get it off to the side of the road. My heart sinks because I see my handlebar break lever on the ground. I can barely move my left hand, certainly not enough to pull the clutch lever. I’m so embarrassed, and hurt because this is my first real ride on the new bike, and it’s gonna be my last for a good long while.

They say it happens to everybody. That it’s not a question of If you’ll go down, but WHEN. It finally happened to me. I’m alive, and besides a couple scraped knees and a sprained wrist, I’m okay.

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That was one year ago today. I’m still riding, and on the same bike. We’ve come to an understanding, Suzie and I, and there’s been no real problems since this incident. There have been a few close calls though. So you guys in your four wheeled metal boxes, keep your eye out for me and my brothers!

Gavin Kingsley