Nobody ever wants to wreck their bike, but sadly, it happens. Sometimes inexperience leads to a terrible mistake. Sometimes experienced riders have a momentary lapse of judgment. Other times, it’s another driver’s fault. Unfortunately, even when it’s someone else on the road who makes a mistake, it’s the motorcyclist who ends up paying the most. Even after a minor accident, though, getting back on your bike for the first time can be terrifying.
I was lucky that my first accident wasn’t nearly as serious as it could have been. I bought my first bike in the summer, and I actually made it through the first six months without a problem. Once winter hit, though, I rode a lot less frequently. Luckily, Georgia warms up pretty quickly, so by the time March rolled around, I was able to get back out on the road.
There are few things in life that are more enjoyable than cruising on your motorcycle, enjoying the sun for the first time since winter hit. That day was especially beautiful, which made up for the fact that traffic was too heavy to really enjoy my ride. Traffic sped up and slowed down in that frustrating way that city traffic does, and then it happened. The car in front of me slowed down quickly, I hit my brakes, and all of the sudden, I was laying on the road, in the middle of the street.
Trying to think back through what had happened, all I could come up with was that maybe I had done something really stupid. I’d been slowing down, and I must have grabbed my front brake too hard, because all of a sudden, my bike jerked violently and threw me off. It was confusing, but I had also hit my head when I went down, so I couldn’t really expect to figure everything out just yet.
Laying on the street in the middle of busy traffic is no way to improve your health, so I stood up as best as I could, picked up my bike, and rolled it onto the sidewalk. A couple of bystanders had stopped when they saw what happened, and as I tried to check my bike out, they explained that the driver behind me had actually rear-ended me and managed to drive off before any of them could get the license plate.
If I had been thinking straight, I would have called the police to report it anyway, but in my probably concussed state, all I could think was that the only real injury I had was a bleeding thumb inside my glove, and that I needed to get back home to straighten out my handlebars.
Back on my bike I hopped, and back to my house I rode. The bike was scraped up, and the handlebars were bent, but other than that, it was fine. A hammer helped straighten out the handlebars, and eventually my thumb healed. I should have seen a doctor about my head, but college sophomores who ride motorcycles aren’t known for making wise health care decisions.
What I couldn’t do was get back on my bike. I could work on it and I could start it up, but I couldn’t make myself ride it again. I actually tried once, but I had to turn around before I got off my street because I couldn’t do it. A car that I couldn’t see had driven right into me, and if one unseen car could take me out, so could any of the other cars behind me. In my head, I knew it was an irrational fear, but sadly, irrational fears don’t respond well to heady logic.
But I couldn’t let that faceless driver take riding motorcycles away from me. Letting that happen wouldn’t have been right. Slowly, I worked my way back into it, and before long, the fear was gone. The added caution is still there, but the outright fear passed.
When you wreck a bike, it’s perfectly normal to have a hard time getting back into riding again. Just because it’s hard, though, doesn’t mean you need to give it up. Take your time, especially if you’re injured, but once you and your bike are fixed, don’t put it off too long. The longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be.
There are probably some guys out there who got T-boned by tractor trailers, bought new bikes the day they got out of the hospital, and never thought twice about giving it up. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but let’s not pretend that everyone can make themselves do the same thing. Some people struggle, especially after an injury, and that’s OK.
Hopefully, even if it’s hard, you won’t give up riding. It’s dangerous, but it’s so rewarding — it would be a shame to let a fall take that from you.