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Old 08-27-2008, 12:18 AM   #1
canyonrat
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When a Jedi crashes - Unlearning bad habits, when correct & bad techniques conflict

This is a long read, so think of it as a Motorcycle Magazine article. Print it out and read it latter.

By Mark Honig
August 2008

I set a goal this year, a simple and clear goal, “to ride better”. But why would a Jedi rider need such a goal…This is where the story begins.

During 2007 I crossed the double yellow twice and crossed the white line a few times. The yellow did not involve a panicked crossing from yellow to white while hard on the brakes, but rather a more tempered crossing of a few inches and a planned and executed escape to safety. I burned two of my nine lives last year. I also cut several corners too tight and crossed the white, on the inside of the corner, I call this falling into the corner. Crossing the white is not as frowned upon in the motorcycling community, but can just as easily result in an horrific outcome.



Skaggs knee dragg’n Aug. 2007

Back to the goal. Implied in this goal would be to not cross yellow or white lines. Also implied is not crashing. So…as the “force” would have it, I am here, uninjured, alive, and able to learn from these mistakes and hopefully teach at least one person something about this.

So my plan has been to ride slower in 2008 and pay more attention to my lines, entrance speeds, etc. On group rides, this year, I have often taken up the rear position rather than a lead position. I also dusted off an old lesson of mine. It starts with a question, “how do you learn to ride faster through corners?” There are only two ways. One way is to push it by increasing your speed a tiny amount, the other is to ride in a way that makes you fell very comfortable, and the speed will just increase. I teach the second method and am following it this year. As some of you know, I can “rail” at 100 mph dragging knee all the way. As less of you know, I don’t feel comfortable doing this, but will do this because as a lead in an “A paced hotshot group of Jedi’s” it is expected. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time, we all have a great time, it’s shit loads of pure adrenaline dripping fun!

There’s another lesson of mine. “Ride in a way that will allow you to ride until you are old.” This means, don’t get so many tickets that the spouse takes your keys away or the State revokes your license. This means, don’t receive injuries from crashes that will hurt you when you are old and/or prevent you from being able to operate the bike’s controls. But what it really means is don’t get killed.

My first crash was early in the season, March 2008, and was my first crash in 10 years. I have been quiet about this on the boards because I was waiting to get the insurance decisions and aspects all taken care of. This crash was a 45-80 mph low side on a slight down hill right. It was on a road I was not very familiar with and was riding for the first time. I was following a rider that knew this road and was showing me some new lines.

Into the corner, the bike was stable, my mind was at ease. Then the realization that I was sliding on the pavement. Quick, pull my foot out from under the bike. DIRT! Kick the bike away and kick it really fucking hard, the frame savers will flip the bike. Damn, this is gonna hurt. I closed my eyes, breathed out, and pushed my butt into the pavement as I lifted my arms and legs.

Darkness, lack of movement, silence, I had stopped. Systems check –wiggle toes, move legs, fingers, arms, head, all was well. Oh shit my left wrist burning but was moving. Vision, looking at my wrist, still normal in shape.

“Fuck, I waded my shit”, as some say. I stood up and gave the “ok” to the approaching corner workers.

I have a teaching, “you do not learn from crashing, you only can learn to ride better.” And with this my goal for this year implies not crashing. What road was this? A road is a road, this one just happened to be called Infineon Raceway, turn 4.

I was primarily at the track to test my new 2007 GSXR750 and set up the Ohlins suspension. I wound up crashing my old trusty steed, my 2001 GSXR1000. On this day, a day that was both the best of times and the worse of times, I fell in love and was heart broken.

Now a Jedi should not fall in love with his or her bike because it is simply a pleasure devise that at any moment can be sent down the road looking like a bad space shuttle re-entry. I have broken this Jedi doctrine and for the first time in all the bikes I have owned I have totally fallen in love with my GSXR750, and in just one day. I also felt a heaviness in my heart, I had crashed my old GSXR1000, my friends GSXR1000 that I bought from him; I always called it “Eli’s bike”.

I thought I knew everything there was about crashing. My basic philosophy about crashing is that “you can not learn from crashing, but you can learn to ride better”, but I did learn something. I have only spoken of this to just a very few close riders, but since enough time has passed I feel comfortable in posting this now. The bike I crashed I bought from a very dear friend of mine, Eli. He crashed Oct. 2005 and died at the scene, while riding a road he had never ridden before. Eli, my young Padawan, did not follow a primary lesson of mine, “know thy road”, and crashed on a road he was riding for the first time.


Eli, Hwy35 Skyline, 2002ish
(Eli’s crash story: http://www.bayarearidersforum.com/fo...d.php?t=138448)

After the crash, I dusted off my leathers, duct taped my throbbing wrist, and got back out on the track on my new GSXR750 and set some of my best times of the day. I felt only slightly bummed about the crash. It was three days later, while at work, and by myself (thankfully) that I was walking over the saw with measurements for some trim cuts and with no warning, as fast as a kick in the balls, I burst out in a full shoulder shaking throbbing blubbering cry. It hit me, I crashed and totaled my dead buddies bike. It was like I had been caring for the bike for him since he was gone. So this old Jedi learned that you might have a STRONG emotional reaction if you crash your dead buddies bike.

Having not seen what happened during my crash I had to “C.S.I.” my bike to determine what happened. I’ve been at or involved in over 25 bike crashes. What I saw on my bike were scrapes going strait up the side…it was a dual wheel slide, then the bike caught the dirt and flipped and rotated, damaging every piece of plastic and bodywork. TOTALLED! My leathers indicated what I remembered. Actually they look as if I fell over in a parking lot. All the damage was to the right side of the leathers and right boot. Gloves and helmet did not touch the ground. Some how I hair lined fractured my left wrist in 5 or 18 places, depending on how the doc wants to count them. No damage occurred to my suit or glove on the left side.


Infineon, March 2008


Crashed at Infineon, March 2008


Contemplating the loss, April 2008


The second crash…

My second crash occurred Just a week ago. I took Rich Oliver’s Mystery School, MSF Dirt Bike Riding for Beginners with my wife. Since many of the “hot shot” riders are getting more dirt riding in and switching to Motards because the fast roads are deteriorating and making them harder to ride on sport bikes, I thought that I should add to my prior 3 hours of dirt riding experience.


Wife showing me her happiness at the Mystery School

I was the “expert rider” student. 8 students in the class, all with less than 1500 miles riding experience. Rich had me do slight variations or rather additions to the MSF Curriculum, which made the class more interesting for me. We all completed the course without incident. After the class we were invited to ride his dirt bike trail/course at will for an hour to practice our newly learned skills. About 45 minutes into it I jumped a 3 foot hump caring too much speed (15-20 stupid slow MPH) for the next corner, as I landed I slight applied the front brakes and released. It was too much, the front tire tucked to the left, I planted my right leg to save it, the leg locked, the bike crashed to the left and I did a full face plant.

PAIN! Oh fuck my crushed right ankle. My head, my shoulder, ringing in my ears…Trying to breath, systems check, my right leg is on fire. I get up, not because I am not hurt, but because I can’t let the others see the Jedi rider laying there in a stupid pile of dust screaming profanities. I get back on the bike and push through the pain and keep riding. All of the pain subsides over the next few minutes except for the leg. We finish the ride and take care of the gear, and Rich and Karin and Jen and I talk for about an hour, then we leave. I was in total aw of being in the presence of Rich. I used to watch him kick ass on TV in the 250cc class. That night at the hotel I could not sleep. For the first time in 3 years I was traveling without strong pain relievers. We get home, and I dose big time, then see the doc first thing. Nothing broken, thank goodness, just a simple “high ankle sprain” known in the medical world as first or second degree Syndesmosis. Translated, you have 2 lower leg bones, the shin (Tibia) and the small one in back (Fibula). They are connected together in several places with tendons and a tendon sheath. I tore the tendon sheath which is the most painful tear but also the shortest healing time. So I am back on crutches, but able to ride! Just can’t walk more than a 200 hundred feet.



Crushed ankle, April 2005 (related story of how I crushed my ankle: http://www.bayarearidersforum.com/fo...d.php?t=113007)



What does all of the mean? What is my silly point? When revisiting the basics you can “stir up” the sediment of bad habits. These habits can take over at a subconscious level while you are attempting to execute a proper maneuver, and result in a crash. Many believe that riding is a blood sport. I for one have paid for this sport over the years in minor injuries, cash, hospital visits, stopping fellow riders bleeding, and attending funerals. Riding is a sport that you survive. You survive learning to ride, and now I must face a new challenge, learning to survive unlearning bad habits. But there is hope. With those that have survived, and taken the sport to the extreme edges and into situations where even the angels veer away and ride out the other side, they reach the mythical status of Jedi. Fear is the mind killer, but the Jedi rider only reacts with emotionless confidence. There is no try, just “do” or “do not”. Jedi’s “do”.
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I never drink and ride...I would never allow riding to interfere with my drinking.

Hear, "I am", send me an angel. As I ride, may an angel fly at my side!

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A friend gave me a book about the ills of drinking, so I stopped reading.

Last edited by canyonrat; 08-27-2008 at 08:10 AM..
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:25 AM   #2
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:45 AM   #3
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Main Entry:
le∑sion
Pronunciation:
\ˈlē-zhən\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin laesion-, laesio, from laedere to injure
Date:
15th century

1: injury, harm
2: an abnormal change in structure of an organ or part due to injury or disease; especially : one that is circumscribed and well defined
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:45 AM   #4
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Star Wars reference = InstaDouche
Frackin Trekkies......
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:21 AM   #5
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:35 AM   #6
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good read, but I expect the grammar Nazis will be out in force today.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:57 AM   #7
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:35 AM   #8
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Old 08-27-2008, 06:54 AM   #9
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Not so much Grammar-Nazis, more the Don't-Depend-On-Spellcheck-Nazis. Dusting off an old lesion sounds painful.

Interesting story nonetheless.

Glad to hear that Rich Oliver's MSF Dirt Bike school went well for you. I'm doing that with my son in October. Then back to Mystery School (woo-hoo!) in November.
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:53 AM   #10
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Lesion and lession corrected. Actually I was typing blind folded so that I could feel the force.
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I never drink and ride...I would never allow riding to interfere with my drinking.

Hear, "I am", send me an angel. As I ride, may an angel fly at my side!

"I sence much BEER in you", Yoda (American Jedi Master).

A friend gave me a book about the ills of drinking, so I stopped reading.
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:55 AM   #11
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And that is why you fail

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Old 08-27-2008, 08:00 AM   #12
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My story is better...

http://www.bayarearidersforum.com/fo...d.php?t=257208
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:18 AM   #13
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Well written.
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I never drink and ride...I would never allow riding to interfere with my drinking.

Hear, "I am", send me an angel. As I ride, may an angel fly at my side!

"I sence much BEER in you", Yoda (American Jedi Master).

A friend gave me a book about the ills of drinking, so I stopped reading.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:01 AM   #14
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:27 AM   #15
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As a resident sage of all things about riding let me give you my sage advice:

Stop crashing for pete's sake!
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