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The Accident. What Happened.




As has been documented in my previous posts, I suffered an accident 3 months ago. It came out of the blue and whilst I have been recovering I have spent countless hours analyzing what went wrong and how could I have avoided it.

I am one of those riders who critiques myself all the time when riding, Was that line through the bend the best line? Was I in the best gear for that corner? Why did I not see that car earlier etc.

Firstly a little history. I last had an accident in 1978( or 1977) I was riding a Suzuki GT 750 with a passenger. Prior to this machine I had had a Suzuki GT250. On the 250 I used to have accidents regularly, sometimes more than a couple in one evening. I ended up in fields, Train station ticketing offices (Having crashed through the plate glass window) and just about everywhere one can end up after an accident. I was rarely hurt, just the usual lost skin. I had the luck of the devil.


The 70's was a time when young men used to drink and drive and I was no exception. Sometimes I had to be helped onto the bike. Seems crazy now but it was common in those days.

Then the accident on the 750 happened and it very nearly cost me my life as well as my passenger. We had just left a pub having consumed far too much alcohol. The route home was through country roads (to avoid the Police) I accelerated up to about 70mph and suddenly found myself going over a very steep humped back bridge that had a warning sign and a 20mph limit. I hit that bridge at about 75mph. The bike flew, a la Evil Knievel, bounced once, then slammed into the side of a very old cottage. The bike disintegrated. Engine in one place, forks in another and the frame somewhere else. My foot had got caught under the engine and the exposed crankshaft had drilled a neat but very deep hole into my foot. I had lost a large amount of skin, from everywhere it seemed and both myself and my passenger had to take weeks of work as we did our best impression of Egyptian mummies, such was the amount of bandaging that we had from head to toe. I had been very lucky and that night was the last time I ever had so much as a smell of alcohol before riding or driving. I will not get in a car with a driver who has had even half a glass of beer.

Since that night I have never had an accident of any type. That is despite riding daily, riding in the depths of winter across Germany in snow, rain,ice, indeed anything that the weather could throw at me.


I am not a slow rider, I use the power of the machine regularly and have a reputation as riding fast. To me, of course, I am never traveling too quickly. It seems to me everyone else is riding slowly. Saying that, I chose my places to go quickly carefully. When the road conditions dictate that slowing down is the right course of action I do. My Father gave a piece of advice that I follow. He said " Never rely on other vehicles to avoid you". Over the last 45 years I have had a few near misses but they have always been because other road users have done something dangerous.

I have always found riding on wet roads fun. I like the intense concentration required to stay upright, I have always been able to feel what the bike and tires are telling me.


Now for the latest accident. I had been out most of the day on the ZZR 1100. I have been riding these bikes since the 90's and the feeling I have with it is like it is an extension on myself. I was coming home when the heavens opened and the downpour was probably the worst I have ever encountered. On joining the Expressway I saw multiple riders parked under a bridge and I have to ride through flood water to get onto the Expressway. On the Expressway itself there was not a great deal of standing water. I accelerated across the lanes, then the spray from vehicles and a sudden increase in rain intensity made me want to move across to the center lane. As I started to do this I saw the metal strip in the road. Now these metal strips are not like the normal expansion joints. These strips don't run across the road. They run in the middle of the lane for about 20 to 30 meters and are about 6 inches wide. I knew they had cause fatal accident in the past both for bikes but also for cars. They are shinny metal with zero grip when wet.

It was too late to avoid the plate so I decide to just hold a constant throttle. I was sure that it would be ok. I was wrong. As soon as the rear tyre came into contact with the plate the tyre lost traction. Because I was at a slight lean angle (as I had been changing lanes) the back of the bike came around to the left until I was at full left hand lock. This, I knew, was not good. I was effectively traveling down the road at 100+kph sideways but upright.

The bike was in this position for a moment and then the tyres gripped and the bike went into a violent high side. I was ejected into the air with at a fair rate of speed. Funnily, whilst I was in the air I clearly thought of the following? 1. My bike has had an accident! 2. This is going to hurt. 3 How do I land with the least injury. 4 I really dont want to be hit by the many cars following.

The impact was big and I heard the collarbone snap and even as I was sliding down the road I knew what had broken. As I was sliding I lifted my head to find the bike that was sliding along the road beside me.I did not want that to hit me as well. I tried to lift my head so as to see the following cars and when I did that did not make me feel better. There were many coming at me through the spray. I tried to push down with my hands to slow me down. I knew I need to get off the road. As I slowed I tried to stand up but twice I tried but as I was still sliding I fell down again, TWICE.


Eventually I came to a stop and immediately crawled to the center reservation, although there is no real area to get to and I was still on the expressway. The cars came to a stop behind and I was concerned that other cars would plow into them and still hit me.

The fact that the road was very wet in some ways was a benefit to me. With less friction the riding gear did not wear through. I was wearing safety kit which stood up really well and I only received some cuts on my finger of one hand. The Helmet took a hit and was worn away in places due to the sliding.

The bike was badly damaged, the sliding had snapped off footrests, foot rest hangers, bent the silencer under the bike, handlebar bent and worn away, all foot lever and hand levers worn away or snapped off. All the body work at the front, side and back was totaled.

3 months later the ZZR is back even better than before (at great cost) I am still suffering because of the injuries but I aim to be riding again shortly.

Eventually I came to a stop and immediately crawled to the center reservation, although there is no real area to get to and I was still on the expressway. The cars came to a stop behind and I was concerned that other cars would plow into them and still hit me.

The fact that the road was very wet in some ways was a benefit to me. With less friction the riding gear did not wear through. I was wearing safety kit which stood up really well and I only received some cuts on my finger of one hand. The Helmet took a hit and was worn away in places due to the sliding.

The bike was badly damaged, the sliding had snapped off footrests, foot rest hangers, bent the silencer under the bike, handlebar bent and worn away, all foot lever and hand levers worn away or snapped off. All the body work at the front, side and back was totaled.

3 months later the ZZR is back even better than before (at great cost) I am still suffering because of the injuries but I aim to be riding again shortly.


The problem I have had is in how to analyze the accident to learn from it. When, as a rider, you make a mistake, it is easy to see what you have done wrong.

This accident has bothered me a great deal because I cant see what I could have done differently. Given the same situation my actions would be exactly the same. This tells me that I have no control over what happens, which means I cant take avoiding action in the future. This is really bothering me. It, of course, will not stop me riding but it does impact your outlook.

I have always wondered what it was like to high side having seen it on multiple occasions when watching MotoGP. It is violent and not fun at all. It goes into the experience locker and I don't need to experience it again thank you very much. :-)

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