Last month, my daughter in law got her first motorcycle. I was proud of her and really happy that she could at last enjoy the freedom and thrill of riding a motorcycle on her own. She search for many week until she found a beautiful red CBR 300R. As a parent, we are always stressed when our loved ones are ready to ride alone. We did a couples of ride together and she did really good. So my level of stress was okayiiishhh.
How do many motorcycle crashes happen?
Motorcycle crash don’t usually happening with just one clear cause, there is a string of events that leads to the accident. Some of them can be mitigated while other cannot be avoided. To be a safer and better rider, it’s a imperative to learn how to recognize potential hazards and develop mechanism to overcome or minimize them.
Table of Contents
In this article, I will explain you how last week we arrived home to a really stressful surprise. She had drop her motorcycle while doing the circuit around the Orlean isle near Quebec City. Don’t worry, she’s okay now, only scratches and bruises and the sad feeling of having damaged her new motorcycle.
I hope you will find interesting information on how accidents happends, the cascade of decision that can increase the chances of a accident and the importance of wearing the minimum riding equipment.
Let me tell you the story, I will be putting the potential issue in bold, and maybe we will see what could have been done better and the causes of the crash is a succession of events and decisions.
How it all begin
After a good day at work, excited to go ride with one of her friend, Laurie decided to leavein a hurry. She planned a ride with her friend, they where to meet at a gas station on the Orlean Isle near Quebec City. This is a fun ride to do in the evening since you can admire the majestic Saint-Laurence river, the roaring Motmorency falls and enjoy a slow to medium speed ride with nice curves.
Laurie like to plan lot’s of things on her free time and she, as many of us, plan her schedule with little to no spare time. When she realize that she didn’t had that much time to do the 25 minutes drive to the gas station, she decided to stay in her working cloth and leave her protected motorcycle jeans in her bag. Also, she look like a “potato” (her saying) in those jeans, and Laurie is a very cute girl that like to look good. Note that Orlean isle is a place where there is a lot of potato field, she would have look like a local.
At this time she had her motorcycle for only two weeks and have been riding on it less than 10 times. The motorcycle rear tire his still good, but it need to be replaced soon. There is almost no band left at the wear indication mark. We talked about this when she bought it and we where supposed to order a new one in the coming days.
Let’s ride and have fun
As planned, she arrived right on time at the gas station where she was supposed to meet her fellow rider Will. He his a more experienced rider. He his still young at 24, but have been riding for four years. They fill the motorcycles and they check that everything his right. Laurie went to the bathroom before leaving the gas station, she didi’t take this opportunity to get her “potato” motorcycle pants on. It’s sunny and not too windy, there is almost no traffic, surely she thought, she will be fine and she his not planning to have accident this evening.
So just before leaving the gas station, Will ask her if she want to try his motorcycle. Will think that buying only a 300 cc is not such a good idea, 300 cc is barely enough to ride on the freeway. Laurie like’s to try new things and accept to ride Will’s bike.
They leave the gas station and they made the first part of the ride, there is a lot of curves and the weather is a bit cold. They are enjoying the ride and the stunning points of view where you can see Quebec City and the Chateau Frontenac is not very far. They soon stop on a dock to talk and look at the Saint-Laurent river and Quebec City, such a romantic point of view. 😉
That’s where they decided to switch back to their respectives motorcycles. While they took time on the first start to adjust the mirrors of the motorcycle, they forgot to adjust the mirror this time. Laurie is pretty excited since it’s one of her first ride with her friend. She really like it, at last, she can enjoy riding on her own. Will is a really nice guy and know that Laurie is a strong willed woman that like to lead. He thinks it can be a good idea to let Laurie take the lead for a part of the ride.
Kneeling in front of the church…the accident.
They leave the docks, Laurie riding first. She try to look if Will is still following her and she notice that her mirror are not adjusted any more. Well, she only have to get her head back and on the side and she still see correctly. She decided that it’s not worth the time to stop and adjust the mirror before continuing. After all, the next part is pretty slow and they just got started again.
Laurie like to lean her bike…I mean lean…Her mother remember the driving instructor telling her: “This one like speed, she is the kind of girl you should keep a eye on”. She is not reckless, but she like speed and the feeling of leaning the bike. She had 3 speed tickets on the last six month while riding her job vehicle…Yeah, I forgot to mention that she is a flower delivery gals. Her job is quite hard, she must be up at four AM and she also drive all the way to Saguenay for two days a week. She have been working lot’s of hour this week and she is often really tire when she’s at home.
This is where it went down, taking the chemin Royale curve from the bottom to the top of the picture. There is a beautiful church (the oldest of the island) right in front of the curve and a nice view of the Saint-Laurent to the right.
Anyway, they are at the point of the island. This is really a beautiful place she is thinking as she watch the majestic church in front of her. She did not noticed the hard turn sign, as she was searching to place her head correctly to see if Will was still behind.
As she bring back her look to the road, she notice that she is riding in the corner a bit fast. That this turn is located at the bottom of a hill, is an outside turn and there is a lot of sand directly in her path. She try to turn, and suddenly, without one second to react she find herself sliding in the curve. Behind her, Will had enough time to stop. When she stood up after the slide, he ask her if she is ok. They put the bike to the side of the road and take a couples of breath to relax. Laurie is shaking, her knee hurt but it’s not that bad. She’s having a lot of mixed emotions like, rage, guilt, shame and deception.
After a couples of minutes, they try to start back the motorcycle but the ignition switch on the stand is broken and the motorcycle could not be started. Laurie has almost no battery left on her cellular phone and Will too. They try to cal her motherl for help, but we where riding at the same time and her phone is in her jacket pocket. Laurie finally called her sister and they try to contact me, but they don’t have my number.
Laurie have a big bloodied scratch on the knee. As the adrenaline wear off, she’s starting to fell the pain. Unfortunately, they don’t have a first aid kit to clean the wound and add some comfort.
Half an hour after, we arrived home. Patricia, Laurie’s mother have a truckload of calls on her phone. We try to reach Laurie and we get only her voicemail, after 15 minutes Laurie arrived home with Will and they explained the situation.
The rest of the evening was eneventfull…We drive to the accident, We quickly fix the bike, we drive back to home and Laurie went to the hospital. End of the story around 11 pm for us and 4 am for Laurie.
After the accident
Let me show you a couples of picture of Laurie injury…Before and After the brushing at the hospital. Her jeans and her shoes.
She had new shoes that had been used just two or three times. They have made the job and protect her feet quite correctly. Ouffff! If you want to read more about boots and shoes here are some of the text I have written All you need to know about motorcycle boots or Discover the Best Shoes for Motorcycle: Adventures and Style.
Here you can see how, even at low speed, jeans can get ripped off easily and leave the skin exposed. It is said that jeans get hole in them after only one second of sliding at 100 KM/H. With motorcycle jeans, you can slide for more than 7 seconds at 100 KM/h before the jeans get ripped. She was riding around 40 Km/h when she lost control.
After the hospital, it’s crazy how a little accident can damage the skin.
Before, you can see asphalt, sand and small rock. Let me tell you that the brushing session at the hospital was not fun.
Explanation on the bold sentences.
Let’s analyse all the points in Bold and see if you have seen the same thing that I have seen. Maybe I even forgot some point, but I think the essential is there.
schedule with little to no spare time.
Scheduling with almost no spare time always give the impression that you can do more things in your day. In fact it create stress and put your mind in a constant spin. Planning with no spare time also implied that if anything happened, you will be late. Most of the people that respect other don’t like to be late, so they will try to make up for it by driving faster and taking chances. The fear of being late already put your mind in an excited state where concentration is difficult.
leave her protected motorcycle jeans in her bag
The better protective equipment is not the most protective or the most expensive, the better equipment is the one we wear. You must love putting your protective gear on, don’t get picky, cheap or just choose the first things you see. Take time to try many and if you need to invest more cash for the one you find more beautiful, don’t be cheap and buy it. The best protective gear is the one you want to wear.
had her motorcycle for only two weeks
Having a new motorcycle is fun and a great experience, but we also need an adaptation period. Getting used to the clutch friction zone, the breaking, the acceleration and the comportement when lean can take a couples of weeks. If you have a new motorcycle take your first ride easy and remember for the first 500 Km that you need to take it slow. It’s a good idea to bring you bike in an empty parking lot and practice leaning, clutch control and emergency braking.
rear tire his still good but need to be replaced soon.
If you know that your equipment is not in optimal condition, it’s better to leave the bike alone until it’s repaired. If you still want to ride it, you must factor in the consequences of riding in this condition. For Laurie, the tire was still ok, but it was not new and maybe it had an effect on the accident it’s hard to know for sure.
still young at 24
I wish I was still at that age where sky is the limit and you can eat as much as you want without taking weight…I wish….Anyway, when we are young we don’t have that much experience. That usually have for effect that we underestimate the danger. The older we get, the better we are at evaluating danger because we have more experiences. It’s a good habit, if you see yourself as a risk taker, to take the habit to bring you back on a safe zone, try to think about the consequences of your action more than the action itself. As I often say…It was fun until it was not…like…riding fast is fun until you crash.
not take this opportunity to get her “potato” motorcycle pants
As I said earlier, the best gear is the one you like and you are confortable with, the one you wear. Note that it’s in the nature of protective gear to be more bulky. They will inevitably make you look bigger. Stop thinking about the opinion of the other’s and see yourself in the eye of the other. A true friend, a lover or a parent are supposed to see to your well being. If they place your look before the safety, they are not true friends and you should not ride with them. You can also try to think about the long term consequence of sliding on the asphalt in a cute tank top. In an accident, your skin can be so damaged that you will always have scar and will never again feel cute on a tank top.
she his not planning to have accident this evening.
That is one of my secret…I always ask myself before I ride: “If I crash today, Can I said that I’m in the best gear I have to be safe?”. It can sound stupid but, instead of thinking that nothing will happend, I try to think to other way around just for a second before I start my bike. I plan for the worst and hope for the best. IT’s not to be pessimistic, it’s just being realist.
accept to ride Will’s bike
As a new riders there is a lot to digest on the first rides. It could be a good idea to stick to your motorcycle for the first month at least. Take some experience before switching bike with a friend. If you want to switch bike, switch for all the ride if you can. This way, you don’t have to adjust in the middle of the ride for all the differences in the two motorcycle on the same day. You don’t just drive a motorcycle you pilot it, don’t underestimate the mental charge to pilot a new bike.
they forgot to adjust the mirror this time
I cannot say how many time I get on my motorcycle and the mirrors are not adjusted properly. I think it’s because it’s often easy to move them and walking people pass close to the parked motorcycle. Anyway, it’s a good habit to check both mirror just before you leave a parking place. This way, you are not surprised and will not have to adjust them on the fly.
We are all excited when it’s time to ride, specially if it’s in the first few rides of the season. Wile being excited is fun, it can also decrease your focus. Always take time to recenter yourself before you ride. Take five seconds to just remind you that you will be riding your motorcycle and it’s time to be alert and focus on the road. When I’m feeling that I’m not concentrated, I have the habit of taking five deep breath. And I focus on my body, my hand on the handlebar, my position on the bike, my feet on the peg and my how my back is placed. After the five breath, I usually fell more present.
first ride with her friend.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I noticed that I drive differently when I’m with a group of riders. I tend to be less attentive on the road. I have my attention split on the rider in front, the one behind and all the expectation of everybody. I have to remind myself often that I hold the throttle and I should ride as usual. I’m the one that will have injuries if something happens, I’m the one that will have to go to the hospital or miss day’s of work. When you ride with other, try to go at the speed of your choice, not at the speed of the group.
Laurie take the lead
Usually, the more experienced rider should take the lead follow by the least experienced driver. Experience can play a huge role when avoiding accident or being able to see things coming. A more experienced rider often indicate sand and hole to the rider behind. Also, the more experienced rider will know when to slow down and accelerate and will have a better jugement on different situation. Don’t let your pride get the best of you, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
not worth the time to stop and adjust the mirror
It’s always a good time to stop and adjust the equipment or stop to make your ride more confortable. The less distraction you have the better. Riding a motorcycle is demanding don’t underestimate all the little things you need to think about. Hitting a big hole with your car is bad, but hitting the same hole with a motorcycle can result in a loss of control and a crash. Try to limit the distraction.
she like speed and the feeling of leaning the bike
Something that we are not talking enough is the personality of the rider. I know for a fact that I tend to go fast on a sport bike. I tried one and I was always speeding thru curves and traffic. I just kept my sport bike for two weeks and sold it after. I think it’s not a good idea for me to have a sport bike because I always try to go fast. On my adventure bike, I’m more in a position for comfort and tend do be more relax and slow. It’s because I know who I am that I don’t want to have a sport bike, maybe it’s not for everybody. If you like speed too much, maybe you can go to a circuit to drive fast. Nowadays there is a lot of tracks that are open to the public. There is nothing wrong with enjoying speed and leaning when it’s not on the “normal” road.
3 speed tickets on the last six month
Having speed ticket means two things, first, you are driving too fast and second, you could not payed enough attention to the road ahead to see the cops. There is absolutely no reason to exceed the speed limit. Specifically if you are working on delivery and are payed by the hour. Driving fast his a habit, I always drive slow with my car and I have the tendency to go back at the my “normal” speed after an acceleration. If your normal speed is 100 Km/h, your brain will get use to this speed and you will drive most of the time at this speed. If you get use to ride at 130 KM/h your brain will also get use to that and you will always feel that you are slow at 100km/h. Try to make a habit to ride within the speed limit and your wallet will also be happier. If your job depend on your driver licences, it’s even more important.
been working lot’s of hour this week
Working a lot is often a reason to have less concentration, mostly because you are tired. When we are young, we usually think that there is almost no limit to the humain body. I know I have been there…But when we are tired reflexes can be slower and the brain can also be slower. We just have to think about athlete, they take great care of sleeping habit and they also try not to overwork themselves to stay performant.
she is often really tire
Sleep depravation is one of the factor in lot’s of road accident. If you are not feeling well rested maybe it’s not a good idea to take your motorcycle. Don’t think about just this ride that you cannot do, think about all the ride that you will miss if you crash. I have a friend that lost her husband in a motorcycle crash, police think he got asleep while driving. If you are to tire stay home. If you wish to ride anyway because you are addicted, just take a 15 minutes ride near home, this way you will feel that you have had your dose of your addictive product.
did not noticed the hard turn sign
One of the difficulty of riding is keeping track of all the information. The brain is a Wonderfull machine but it has it’s limitation. You cannot keep track of everything so, you need to focus on the road. One of the best way to keep track of what’s ahead it’s by the road sign. When we try to look at everything at once it’s easy to miss important information. When you notice you zone out, or when your attention is being drag away from the road, try to make a habit to bring yourself back to as quickly as you can. When you drive a motorcycle, you should not think of anything else than the driving experience.
riding in the corner a bit fast
When there is too much information, we can miss sign or we can just drive normally and wake-up at the last second while noticing that the curve is wayyyyyy more curvy than we first thought. In this case, it’s a good idea to wash off as much speed as you can without leaning the motorcycle, you can even stop if you need too. You have to stay upright for as long as you can and then lean the bike in the curve. This is a reason why you should work on your emergency breaking at least once a month. Take 10 to 15 minutes in an empty parking lot and practice emergency braking in straight line and then try emergency braking in the middle of a turn. Don’t forget to bring the bike up before you brake hard or else, you could have an unwanted paint job to do.
lot of sand directly in her path.
Always be focus on the road…Yeah! Know I’m getting redondant. Before taking a curve, always check for rocks or sand or oil or anything that you don’t want to roll on and plan your corner accordignly. Anything you can spot beforehand is easier to deal with. On Quebec road at the beginning of the season, there is sand everywhere due to the last winter sanding. Especially on the outside of a turn and on the base of every slope. Sand will get down a slope with the rain and car will push the sand in the exterior of every corner.
no battery left on her cellular phone
We are relying too much on our cellular phone these days. We don’t know any number on the top of our head and we often don’t even know the road we are on. It can be a good idea to install a charging cable on your motorcycle. If you don’t want to install a cable from the battery, at least buy a cellular battery pack that you left in your motorcycle bag. This way, you will never again get stuck without battery for your phone.
don’t have my number.
After this accident, we concluded that we are going to print a small card with all our phones numbers and put it with the immatriculation and insurance documents and left it on the motorcycle. This way, if we don’t have a phone with us or we don’t have battery, we will at least have all the number to reach someone to help.
don’t have a first aid kit
This one is a no brainer. First aid kit are so easy to carry, we should always have one on every ride. If it’s not for us, at least we will be able to help someone else. it’s even more important if you drive an adventure motorcycle away from the main road. Let me show you three kits that you can buy from three different places. don’t get caught again without something to help. I prefer the one from Meditac because there is all you need in it. If you don’t have the budget I have two other suggestions, one from Decathlon and one from Amazon.
Best option from Meditac
Accident are not easy to predict, that’s why they are called accident. But remember than most of the time they don’t depend on a simple event. Most of the time, they are the result of a chain of insignificant event or decision. I hope that by reading through this post you have learn something. I hope that you will have the chance to better know what events or decision can impact your security. In this scenario, we have seen that it’s not clear what had caused the accident or at least that we don’t know what would have been the result if one or two things have been different.
I think a good way to be a safer and better rider is to be able to identify all the danger and know when two adjust speed or space or the gear we have on or even the order of the riders in the group. By getting better at knowing all the danger and being able react correctly, we will be able to enjoy or activity safely for many years to come.