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Common Tread

The stupid thing I did yesterday

Apr 14, 2016

Today, readers, I am going to expose myself to public embarrassment for the common good.

Yesterday morning dawned sunny but unusually cool at my house, and I went out early to take care of a few tasks.

Geared up, I rode the two blocks from my house to Main Street and turned right, pulling out from the stop sign just like I've done any other day. But his wasn't any other day. For one thing, it was the morning after a cold night. Second, I had just put a brand new rear tire on my Kawasaki Versys the evening before. Do I know how that combination of cold pavement and a slick new tire can be dangerous? Of course I do.

But knowledge does you no good if you don't use it.

Instead of thinking about the new tire and the cold pavement, I was thinking ahead to the places I was going and things I needed to get done. So when I rolled on the throttle as usual, I got a most unusual response. The end whipped around and tossed me to the ground. Classic high-side. Is it even possible to high-side at 10 mph? I'm here to tell you it is.

The gear did its job, so no damage to me. A friendly guy leaving the Starbucks across the street ran over and helped me pick up the bike. I shoved it into a parking lot and assessed the damage, which wasn't too much, due to the low speed. A few scratches. The most significant damage was the mounting plate for the left footpeg, which snapped in two. I was able to shift the bike into gear with my hand and ride the two blocks back home with my left leg dangling in the air, looking and feeling like the idiot I was.

Why am I even telling you this? We regularly write about riding skills here at Common Tread, and I'm gratified by the positive response we get to those articles. It's one of the things that really makes me appreciate you, our audience. At times, it may seem we're going on too much about those topics. My stupid rookie mistake (by someone who is supposed to be way past rookie stage) shows why we do that. 

There's no such thing as giving ourselves too many reminders to engage our brains and use what we know before we engage first gear. There's no time when it's OK to tune out and drop our awareness while riding.

For me, lesson relearned, at about the lowest cost possible for a high-side. If it serves as a reminder for you, at the cost of free, that's even better.