And yet another newbie oops...

by Donna

I posted about practice, practice, practice and then what do I do? Wrecked my Harley in a slow speed left turn at the intersection in our small town. This happened 6 weeks ago today. I was unable to just get back on and ride home because when she bucked me off, I severely broke my left leg around the knee and also my big toe. Minimal road rash because I was wearing jacket, gloves and helmet (90 degrees outside that day) but it tore my jeans up on the side of my thigh so I had a bit there.
However, the longer I sit in this wheelchair the more inclined I am to not ride again. My stepbrother (the only person I know who rides) asked me at the hospital if I was going to ride again and I said sure I am! But now I am not so sure of that. It has not been pleasant having this forced "vacation" as I am in a non weight bearing soft brace so am unable to be very mobile. The "accident" still bothers me. It goes through my mind when I am trying to go to sleep. I do not know what happened to cause it and that makes me really nervous about riding again.
This is what happened: I was coming up to the intersection and had a green light. There was one car coming towards me and I slowed to see what it was going to do. They turned their signal on to make a left turn so I proceeded to make my left turn. Just as I got into the intersection I heard a siren. I got nervous about getting out of the way and I remember fumbling for the shifter.(I had made the turn and was going straight by then) No idea why I would do that as I should have already been in first gear. Then I was no longer in contact with the seat of my bike! I was in total disbelief as I crawled to the sidewalk to sit down. I didn't even know at that time that I was hurt. I was pissed off that I had wrecked my beautiful bike and felt really, really stupid for doing so. The riders who happened to be on the sidewalk at this time said "she gave it too much throttle". So that is the only thing I have to go by. Did I pop the clutch and give the throttle a little twist? I wasn't going fast but my bike goes pretty good just in the friction zone. I just don't know. It happened really, really fast. I was going fine then I was on the ground in the blink of an eye. Scary. Too much power in a bike for a newbie? (Harley Sportster 1200) So there it is. I had only been riding about 9 months when this happened. Took the MSF course and failed in October 2011. Practiced in parking lot for 6 months before getting my endorsement at the DMV in April 2012. Was riding back to work from lunch and back home (about 10 miles round trip) for practice. The longest trip I did was 26 miles round trip to one of the neighboring towns so I didn't have a lot of seat time in yet. I had about 300 miles on my bike. Oh yeah, the bike is fine. :)

Comments for And yet another newbie oops...

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Aug 23, 2012
Your decision
by: Atl

I agree with what the other ladies have said.
I do want to remind you that what happend that day hopefully will never happen again and it doesn't dictate your future. Try to see each day as a new experience and has nothing to do with yesterdays ride. Always be open to learn from your mistakes...a wide turn, a rough stop,a not so good line set through a curve...know what you did for those results and what you need to do to correct it next time. Practice as you ride you don't have to be in a parking lot to practice.

Next...don't dwell on your off/accident. You remember bits and pieces so evaluate what you remember (did you pop the clutch? did you over thottle?) and what do you need to do to correct it next time. Now let it go. Get over it. It's in the past. Today is a new day.

You said you've been riding 9 mos. and about 300 miles of seat time so how often do you get out? I know that your weather can be somewhat nasty but have you gone for a ride every chance you get? Seat time brings knowledge & experience.

I know the others have said get a smaller bike. And that may be what YOU need to do but I would say that it depends on YOU and if you're going to take the challenge and ownership of the ride. My first ride was a GoldWing 1200. Yes there were several months that I was very intimidated by it but one day, within the first year, when I was out (solo) and I almost dropped it. That was the turning point. I decided that day at that spot that I was not going to drop the bike and that I was going to ride this bike. I had finally "owned" it. Yes I still had challenges and yes I did drop it more than a few times but I was determined to ride MY bike! I continue to ride a GoldWing and had a Triumph Trophy 1200 along with the Wing for a few years. I never had anyone ask/tell/say that I should be on a smaller bike and if anyone asks about me riding such a big bike I just tell them that...nobody ever said I couldn't and my legs reach the ground so I don't see a problem.

Maybe you need to take the safety class again to refresh your brain and your skills and to help rebuild your confidence. Doesn't matter that you didn't pass the first time...you're there to refresh the theory and your skills. And that's all you have to say about "WHY" you're there... just say you took the class, had an accident, and felt a refresher course would help rebuild your connfidence.

You can do it if you want to do it but you have to make that decision. Good luck and keep us posted.

Aug 22, 2012
One more thing
by: Jeanette

I myself dropped my bike in a parking lot and tore up my shin pretty bad (8wks later and still pretty raw). Not nearly as bad as you but it freaked me out... Since I was able to get up and try again my husband helped me pick it up and get right back on.. It took a few times out before I could stop shaking and actually release the clutch without stalling the bike.
Here is the one thing I did and recommend to every one who wants to ride. Buy the Ride Like a Pro DVD PKG with the book. The best $89 I ever spent..
I ride a Suzuki boulevard s50 800. It is a low centre of gravity and best of all it is only 442lbs so very easy to control. A great first bike. I beleive no matter what you ride you need to have full control of your ride before you venture out on the streets. If you can control your bike throughout all the excersizes in the book (dvd) then you should be able to handle stuff that comes up. They were so valuable to me. I am so grateful I had them and feel so safe because of what i learned. Hope that helps and i hope you will ride again. I know you can do it.

Aug 22, 2012
Completely Agree
by: Stephanie

I agree with all these ladies....please don't give up. Give yourself time to heal physically and mentally...and then start back up with a smaller bike!!! I started with a Kawasaki 250 for about a year while I got the basics of stopping, cornering, swerving down..then moved up to a Sportster 883 for 5 years, and now I ride a Dyna Superglide. I completely understand the hesitation after breaking my arm in a crash - I "told" the bike to do something, it said "oh no I won't, either" and down to the pavement I went!!! The bike wasn't hurt much, but my arm, my confidence and my pride was. However, I knew exactly what it was I did wrong...it was a bonehead mistake that should never have happened. In your case, you are questioning your skills. That's why I agree with moving down in bike, until you have confidence in your skills again. GOOD LUCK and DON'T GIVE UP!!!

Aug 22, 2012
Hope you are healing well but please don't leave your ride behind
by: Lexxia

Hi Donna, you've had a pretty unpleasant experience and it's only natural you are considering not getting back out there.

From your experience though you can learn a huge amount that will be invaluable to you as a rider once you do get back on a bike - and I for one really think you should. First - set that beauty you have, aside for awhile (properly stored of course). Or sell it, your call but leave it alone until you've gained the necessary comfort, experience and almost automatic management of a bike. I'd fall back to a 500 at least. I'd also start myself off after I've healed, in an empty parking lot. I'd practice the main areas that this lesson is telling me I need: clutch/throttle control, braking (including controlled braking), cornering and slow maneuvering. Over and over and over until it's something you find yourself not even thinking about doing more times than not. I'd ride the 500 for a full season at least then once I've gotten a good amount of road time with it (going out every evening and weekend as weather permits, jaunts around the city to practice the stopping/starting, traffic annoyances like bumper suckers, impatient folks and even the occasionally emergency vehicle. As well as enjoying some open roads.) Then, I'd move up to a 750-800 and do it again for a season. Highway jaunts, country roads, curves (counter steering is also important not to mention pretty darned enjoyable). After another half/full season then move on up to your 1200 if you wish. When you feel confident that you've experienced all that is important and you've dealt with it all pretty easily, you'll be far more safe on the big boy both for you and for others.

Too much bike, slip on the throttle, pop of the clutch, turning AND an emergenvy vehicle - I'm pretty certain that had you been riding a 500 or even 750, you'd have only sustained the lesson not the pretty severe physical trauma.

Heal, take away the lessons, understand the reasons and realize that the mix of too much bike and too much going on at once, including not enough practice with control is why you were injured - all of which you can now learn from and take control of with the right sized bike, the right level of practice and the confidence that you can manage the same scenario again if you have to.

All the best - but don't stop riding girl.Just ride within your zone of experience right now.

Aug 22, 2012
And yet another newbie oops...
by: Ann

Please dont give up, i bought my harley in 2010 3 months later wind pushed me off of the highway and well the rest is history. My bike sportster 883 took little damage, and my leg was hurt pretty bad but not broken. I was so scared to get back on my bike, took me 1-1/2 years to get the courage back up...woke up one day and said I am not afraid anymore. I love my bike, the wind in my hair and my freedom to come and go. Took alot of slack from my brother and my boyfriend who both are riders about getting back on, their philosophy "women should be on the back of a bike" I DID IT...AND EVERYDAY I PRACTICE LITTLE AT A TIME. Dont wait as long as I did...get back on that bike girl!

Aug 22, 2012
I'm still a work in progress in my "newbie" experiences : )
by: Teeoly

I use my "many" mistakes I've encountered as a new rider, to help other women who have "OOPS" as a set back, to ever riding again. You have to use a lot a quick thinking/focus/action, when you encounter surprise situations. I learned that I have to simply relax & focus in those unpleasant moments. I still experience situations to where people in cars think that they're in control of my motorcycle, especially those behind me when I'm in a turn. But, I've learned that most cars/people.....well, they have been patient with me and realize that running me over, isn't legal, LOL!
I believe your problem is in those three words that you use;POP THE CLUTCH. It's learning to "slowly release the clutch" as your giving it alittle throttle. I've dropped my brand new motorcycle a few times at a stop or situation, such a yours, because of popping my clutch resulting into instant anxiety for me; lose of control. I purposely had an an engine guard put on my new motorcycle which has protected my bike, and me, as well. Not trying to tell you that crash bars are the answer. It's working both the throttle and clutch release at the same time. With pratice, it'll soon become natural. I do hope that you'll ride again.

Aug 22, 2012
Too much power
by: Kat

Definately too much power for a newbie - I really don't understand why newbies go for the "big rides" when you should be working your way up - get used to each bike level

Aug 22, 2012
Dang Girl
by: TammyT

Wow, Donna, that is a really painful riding lesson. Unfortunately you're not even sure what happened, so it's hard to figure out what you can learn from it. I am so sorry you were hurt. Only you can decide to ride again or not, but I hope that you don't let this injury defeat you or beat you down. I broke my femur skiing, so I can relate to a major injury like that, and the toll it takes. You are strong and this too will pass. If you start riding again, just take it slow and easy and you will learn if it is something that you still want to do. Get well sister!

Aug 22, 2012
You will know
by: Mrs. B

I hope you are healing quickly. I know from experience sometimes the bones heal quicker than the mind. I tore my ACL during a low speed quick stop. One of the brakes locked up (still can't tell you which one) and off the left side I went skipping like a stone on a pond. It took two years before I was ready to ride again. Lots of practice and short rides but by the end of the season I had logged over 500 miles. You will know when you are ready to ride again. Until then be kind to yourself, sometimes we are our own enemy.

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