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Story by Bad Boy Wannabe Biker – Faizel

Sixteen hundred km’s under my belt and strangely enough the most vivid memory I have of riding is a 40m stretch of road.  Was it my first wheelie, my first stoppie or my first burnout? Nope- it was the first time I got up close and personal with the black strip, the first time I got my ass handed to me.

Celia was back from her 1000km service and the Honda Umhlanga guys had done a great job. After 3 days of non-stop rain I was craving a nice long ride and had the perfect opportunity as the sky slipped out of her clouds and revealed a glorious sunny day. The ride was great with the bike being more responsive, the clutch felt shorter, the gears were smoother. I was actually taking the bends quicker as well, by my standards anyway. The best ride of my life came to an abrupt end as a driver decided to make an illegal right turn 20 meters in front of me from the extreme left lane.

I did not have enough time to brake and tried to squeeze past the front of his car, but he kept going and crashed into me. The bike fell out under me and I slid for what seemed to be an eternity. Some people see their lives flash before them when involved in an accident, my first thought was “Hey, this isn’t so bad” as I could feel the padding of my jacket taking the trauma of the slide. Then it turned to “I hope no other cars run over me” and then to “ OK, when is this gonna stop”. I was hurt but the kit took most of the damage. My jacket, jeans and boots were ripped. That could have easily read “my hands and legs were shredded” had I not been wearing kit.

The human spirit was strong that day as a number of good Samaritans stopped and assisted me, making sure I was OK and calling the cops and ambulance. The 72 year old driver of the car looked all confused and admitted his guilt. The bike, my poor Celia lay on her side a further 30 metres away with all of her oil drained out as the sump hit the pavement.  I was furious at the driver of the car. How could he do something so stupid? I was even more upset with myself.  Why did I not anticipate this?

My cell phone was unharmed so decided to call my better half to notify her and was mentally preparing myself for the tongue lashing I was about to receive.  Worse yet what if I was told, in no uncertain terms, that she WILL not allow me to ride again. Although concerned and scared, she was relieved that I was not badly injured and no mention of me not riding again. Great. Call the insurance and Celia is authorised to go to panel beaters. The paramedics do a swift check-up and ask that I go to the hospital to have my left foot examined.

Off to the hospital and the 4th and 5th toes on my left foot are fractured.  I have bruises on both my knees but my upper body and head are unharmed. The first night at the hospital was terrible. Every time that I closed my eyes I saw the car hitting me and heard the crash. A recurring horror movie clip with me in the starring role. My foot and knees are sore. The medication eventually kicks in and I manage to sleep. The good news is that I don’t need an operation for the fracture. The bad news is that I am out of action for 6 weeks and my left foot is in a cast.

The next 2 days in hospital gave me a fair amount to think about life and my biker wanna be journey. Each time the crash movie clip replayed in my mind it eroded my confidence and festered self-doubt.  Was there something I could have done had I been more experienced? Could I have avoided this if I was more skilled? Is riding a bike something I really want to do again? I was lucky this time, what if I am not as lucky the next time? Even more frustrating was that I have always been cautious on the bike. The mature rider – no wheelies, no burnouts, no unnecessary risks and still get taken out by an old man.

Back at home now and the doubts are growing like the interest on my home loan. I drop Hein an email asking how he mentally recovered from his accident and his advice was spot on. You have the skill, you know what you are doing so get on a bike as soon as you can. News from the insurance company is that Celia is written off.

The next few weeks are fight with the insurance company for the payout while I hone my hop along skills to an art form.  The “Crash Movie” has been demoted from its blockbuster status in my mind and all I can think about is how good it will be to ride again. There is also another niggling question. Do I buy the same bike (it’s still on special) or do I go big – Fireblade (drool). Some solid advice from Owey at Honda and I decide to get the CBR 600F again. Four weeks after the accident Cecilia is delivered home. New kit is also purchased.

I sneak downstairs to the garage whenever I can to start up the bike and revv it as that’s all I can do for now and the urge to ride again is so strong. After 5 weeks I convince both the orthopaedic surgeon and my wife that my foot is completely healed and that the cast should come off.  The next morning I take Cecilia out and it has to be to watch the sun rise at the beach. Riding again is as exhilarating as I imagined. The freedom, the focus, the open road, the power from twisting the throttle corrupting you quicker than money corrupts politicians. This is where I belong.

Life is a patient teacher and when you don’t learn from a lesson the first time you are guaranteed to get the same lesson again. As such, I have put much thought into what I am supposed to learn. Riding is risky business and the more you minimise the risks, the better your chances are of not crashing.

  1. All The Gear All The Time – I ride with ATGATT, but the accident made me realise how much the gear helped. I can’t understand how people ride without gear .
  2. Expect the unexpected – I need to focus more and anticipate the worst. Trust no one on the road and every road user is a potential risk of an accident.
  3. I don’t have to ride everywhere – I would like to ride everywhere but at times it’s impractical. I need to accept this and use the car instead.
  4. I don’t ride residential anymore – I have promised myself that I will ride as little as possible in residential areas as that is where the drivers and the roads are the worst.

So the big question, do I get my bad boy biker stripes – YES I DO – and I have the battle scars to prove that I deserve it.

Hein Jonker

Editor & Chief Instructor of Bike Talk SA. Senior Instructor for Honda SA On-Road Academy in KZN & Exhibition Rider for Harley-Davidson SA

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