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Learn from your mistakes 2

Mark Hodson's fantastic story of all his crashes insipred others to write down their own stories. The first one to tell about the mistakes he had made is Tom Horne from Australia. I hope more people can send their stories so we all can learn from the mistakes by reading the stories, instead of getting hurt ourselves...

This crash picture has nothing to do with Tom (I hope). I found it somewhere on the web.

Crashes I remember

Fri, 27 Dec 2002
By Thomas Horne, Australia <thomas.horne @ student.adelaide.edu.au>

I was just reading the stories page, and i thought you might like to hear about the lessons I've learned. I've crashed four times, all on my 1983 yamy rd 250 lc.


The first, I was new to riding, about three weeks in and I thought I could handle anything (ah those were the days), but my tuning screws were loose and the engine idle rev's were petty low. (I didnt know that, I just thought it was a beast when it was cold.)

I was sitting outside school after lunch about to leave when I couldn't get the rev's high enough to pull off. I thought it was cold and after the 3rd stall I kept it in gear and revved it hoping to let the clutch out slowly and take of with high revs. I let it out at about 5000 which is still powerbanding and the bike didnt like that at all.

The next thing I knew, I'd snapped the clutch lever off in my hand (i found out later it had a hairline fracture from something else) and I rocket down the road bouncing on my rear wheel. I sideswiped a parked corrola on one wheel and then i threw the bike to the tarmac and slid free. The bike spun on its side and wedged the handlebars under another parked cars front wheel and happily idled in first.

I suffered a badly grazed left arm and brusing to my ego. I pushed it to my friends place down the road and bought new mirrors, levers and indicators and reshaped the headlight and I was laughing again.

I learned that the aggression that you present the bike with is exponential to the aggression it will respond with when you lose control. It helped me to be more careful with the powerband and slamming it into gears to fly past cars in traffic, which I was doing to much of at the time.

* *

The second was on a road in the hills near the city which can be a little bumpy sometimes, to be honest some parts of it are too hardcore for my skills and I have to go slow. I had just had the RD re-silenced and tuned, and I just bought a new helmet with a black visor and so I went a little power-mad and really thrashed it out on this particular road where its more sweeping and smooth.

The road was an S bend on a hill, so the second turn was a little tight traction-wise. I came down the hill too fast and thought I would crash so I applied the brakes. The bike shot upright and hit the gravel and flew out from under me. The bike hit a PVC pipe to mark the edge of the road and snapped it into pieces, which I then rolled over the top of.

My jacket's left elbow pad was scraped up, but my helmet was fine, I kept it off the ground. On the way home, (I had to do my standard rebuild- indicators, mirrors, headlight with hammer) I ran out of fuel but I thought my bike was fucked and so I had someone come out and look at it. They did some other stuff to it while they were there but I still looked like a knob.

I learned that my bike is NOT sticky the stick insect and that just because I believe my bike (and all bikes) can corner that tight, it CAN'T.

I also learnt the traction rules in relation to the amount of braking you can apply and still maintain contact with the road and your required lean angle.

* * *

The third one was outside school again — I was speeding past at about 120 km/h towards a roundabout. I thought I could slow down in time but as a mixture of lack of skill, not pushing the handlebars to drop the bike for turns, my speed and still holding the brakes on led to my dismount.

The bike got pulled out from under me and to the side as it hit the pavement and I sailed right over the handlebars, right over the GRASS median strip onto the coblestone pavement on the other side, scratching up my new helmet from the last crash.

The bike wouldn't start afterwards, a mixture of battery acid leak, the handlebars having thier indicator box things ripped off, and the spot for the ignition key breaking off at the base. Not to mention the headlight again.

I never told anybody how this one really happened (I told people I was cut off) because this was me being stupid and I deserved to come down. I just couldnt believe my own stupidity.

* * * *

The last crash really spelt the end for the RD. I was coming around a two lane roundabout in the outside lane turning right. I know, I know, I was in the wrong lane. But I had my headlight on, my indicators and my bike isn't exactly stealthy.

Anyway, someone in a Volvo, (seriously, I know its always a Volvo but its true) pulled into the roundabout and blocked my lane completly. The Volvo just panicked and sat there as I tried to stop in time, but instead I got thrown onto the
hood, and my bike bent its forks and fucked all sorts of other stuff. It was a write off.

I was furious and nearly killed the driver (in my head) but instead just screamed and shouted a torrent of abuse. This crash taught me that life isn't always fair and that this certainly applies to the road.

I learned alot about driver skill and the comfort zone. I'd say that crash opened my eyes to the dangers of riding that I wasn't willing to admit to myself, and I'd say I'm a better rider for it because my attitude has changed.

Anyway, it took seven months to get a pittance out of the Volvo drivers insurance, which certainly didnt pay for my new bike, so I had to spend a considerable amount more than I should have, but such is life.

I just hope someone else can learn from the mistakes I learned that could have left a very nasty looking corpse for my parents to have to identify.

A friend of mine who drives his cars very hard just got his first motorbike so I have been hoping that he has taken heed of my advice but as you well know, riding a bike is a personal endevour and nobody can tell you the rules, you have to learn them yourself.

On the other hand, I love owning my Suzuki RG250, it has so much power and I get no more pleasure anywhere else than playing the clutch at full lean in the powerband, feeling the bike buck and jump underneath me as it whips round a corner...


Tom Horne

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