Wild Motorcycle Tales
Here's a great story from Jeff Dyrek. Got your own story? Send it to me.
Ride Slowly and Enjoy the View
I was a crazy guy back in the Navy. They called me Mad Dog Dyrek.
I've ridden in every kind of weather and all year round, ice, snow, rain, hail and you won't really believe it, I even rode in clear weather too.
One day my boss told me to take the day off of work and drive to the mountains, "Slowly, and enjoy the view". He said that if I don't slow down I'm going to kill myself. So I drove from Lemoore NAS in California to Mineral King, in the Sequoias. I did exactly like he said.
It was absolutely beautiful because it was my first time to Mineral King. The road was a dead end and there was a large parking area with a beautiful vista. The temperature was pretty cool so I kept my toes behind the cylinders to keep them warm, I did that often. But when I got to the stopping point, I put my foot on the ground and my pants leg got caught on the kick starter and I couldn't quite reach the ground.
I started yelling, "Oh Shit, Oh Shit, Oh Shit" then hit the ground. There was a CHP officer just two cars down from me and everyone in the parking lot, including him, turned around when I screamed and looked and saw the whole thing. I was really embarrassed.
On the way back home, the road was a fine sand over old asphalt. I was looking at the beautiful views and driving slow, just as my boss told me to. All of a sudden a motorhome came around the corner and I was surprised and jerked the bike out of the way and crashed. It broke my windjammer windshield off and I got a pretty good case of body rash.
The motorhome stopped and everyone ran out to see if I was OK. There was enough blood and my shirt and pants were both torn. They wanted to take me to the hospital, but I said to forget it because it would stop bleeding pretty quickly in the rushing air. They kept insisting, but I convinced them that it was just road rash and nothing serous.
There are those who have and those who will, when you are talking about motorcycle riding, and I'm one of those who have. So I drove back home to Hanford and got there just after dark.
I stopped at Taco Bell and bought my usual two burritos with lettuce and a coke. I put them in the dashboard of the fairing and when I drove out of their parking lot, one of them started to slip. I was going so slow I couldn't keep balance and fell over again, just a half of a block from my house.
Back to the motorhome. If I was going fast, I would have been paying total attention to the road and not the scenic views. If I was going fast on the way up to Mineral King, I would have had my feet on the foot pegs and not behind the engine. If I would have screamed out of the Taco Bell parking lot, I would have lost my burritos, not my balance.
I got back to work the next day all skinned up and with a broken windshield. The boss started screaming at me for not following his instructions and then I told him the story. I never slowed down after that.
Going slow lets the brain drift and that only works for driving down highways. In the mountains, if you aren't scraping the foot pegs, you're not going fast enough to keep putting your full concentration on what you are doing and it just gets dangerous.
I have a million bike stories, but I was always safer going faster. That is, once I learned how to go fast. Learning is the most dangerous part of bike riding. The bad thing is, when you first feel like you are getting good at riding, that's when you are in the most serious trouble. It takes many of years of riding to really be good at it and the very best place to learn is in the dirt. Once you have become good at dirt riding, then you will be much safer on the street.
Going Slow, in this case, caused me to have three accidents.
I was always breaking windshields from one reason or another so a man named Ron Clawson, now owner of Clawson Kawasaki in Tulare, kept an extra windshield in stock for me and sold it to me at cost. -- Jeff Dyrek
Editor's Note: This author takes a humorous approach to contrast riding fast and riding slow. He got into trouble before by riding fast. Now he gets in just as much trouble by riding slow. This site, Motorcycle Views, emphasizes safe riding. There are plenty of articles here to learn how to be safe on a motorcycle. Check out my Safety subject for a few. Whether riding slow or fast, you need experience and technique to survive while riding a motorcycle. Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course or two to learn how to ride safely. Don't buy a high-powered bike as your first bike. Know your limits and don't exceed them. Be Safe.
Author's Response: The Editor is right, safety is first. In my story I talk about going fast and going slow. Wandering eyes, at any speed are dangerous. It's also called rubber necking, and it causes accidents. I am a well seasoned motorcycle rider, not a biker. I have almost 800,000 miles under my belt and have almost bit the bullet many times. If you want to ride fast, learn to ride a dirt bike first. Spend years on a motocross course, then you will know about riding. In the story I talk about driving fast in the California mountains. This is totally different today. There are now more than twenty times more cars on the road in that area, so riding fast is real dangerous. Also, there are now tons of people riding bicycles on these roads making it super dangerous to go fast. Just ask my friends Larry, Cal and Ed, who all died driving fast. I have raced in almost every kind of event that there is. I have been a race track announcer for 18 years and have been a race team manager for nine years. I still take riding courses because I always learn something. Take these safety courses anytime that you can, they're great. Always, always wear a helmet. Do not use a dark helmet in a hot area. It can cause your mind to be slow before you realize it, and this can lead to an accident. Never drive faster than you can see. This means don't overdrive your headlights and don't go faster around any corner than you can see to stop when there is a hazard. Motorcycles are very dangerous, I know for a fact. Always wear leather gloves in the summer. When your hands are sweaty, you don't have any grip on the handlebars. The gloves will increase your grip three times over dry hands and much more with wet, sweating hands. This is important when you hit a hole, your handlebars will try to get out of your hands and if you don't have a good grip, you end up high siding. Watch motorcycle crashes on YouTube and you will learn a whole lot about motorcycle crashes. Thank you very much. --C. Jeff Dyrek.