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The C word – A sobering look into why riders crash

The headlines are plenty and the numbers are sobering, we dig a little deeper and find out who’s most likely to throw their bike down the road and why

Crashing a car is nobody’s idea of a picnic. I’ve had my ribs cracked asunder, lungs seatbelt smacked to the point where it felt like I was breathing through a needle, and been punched in the face – with tongue-lolling force – by an airbag.

Aside from the smashing shudder of impact, there’s the screeching tyres, the screaming brakes and the squealing humans in the car with you, providing a cacophony of chaos. It’s all pretty shit. And yet I’d happily do it all again, right now, if the only other option was crashing a motorcycle.

It’s the burning that sticks with me, as the predominant pain point. The skid of skin on leather on road, and on fire, seemingly. The fear factor is also worse, I’m afraid. That long, cruelly drawn-out mini-moment, a nanosecond that moves at Nanna speed in your mind, when you know you’re about to have an accident, and you brace yourself for it physically as your brain fades to hot white flashes of ‘Ohshit, Ohshit, Ohshit’.

Crashing is, in the minds of the weak and watery, a justification on its own for not riding. Indeed, after a few unbelievably close shaves and painful impacts, almost none of which were technically my fault, I gave up riding for a while. I even kept a piece of gravel in my back from the last blood-slide along a road, to remind me, but it didn’t last.

The fact is, of course, there’s a chance we’ll all fall off at some point in our riding careers. Tied to that is the claim from some that they’ve never fallen off or never had a crash that wasn’t the fault of someone else; invariably someone else in a car.

But is that truism true? Are most motorcycle accidents caused by inattentive phone addicts in their overly quiet, comfortable and stultifyingly safe SUVs? How much responsibility do we, as riders, have for the relatively high number of bike crashes on our roads? Even if it was legally and technically someone else’s fault, if we crash at all, it’s our fault, right? Why is that we never seem to want to admit that? Crashing is, truly, the C word. Using it, even in impolite company, is frowned upon.

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Words Stephen Corby

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