by Liz Jansen
Recently I was interviewed by Adventure Rider Radio for a story on Crash Recovery. During the course of the conversation I found myself admitting one of the shadows that had crossed my mind, albeit briefly, was that people would fault me for riding a bike that was too big for me. That’s a topic for another article, but reflection brought to mind a few other memorable events over 47 years of riding,
There’s enough serious stuff making the rounds these days so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. Here are 5 moto secrets revealed, events you might not have known about my riding history.
- At 17, I dropped a motorcycle with my 5-year old sister Mary on it. She was one of my first passengers and you can imagine that we had great fun flying around the family farm on my brothers’ Honda Cub. She received an exhaust burn when we fell over coming up the treed ravine at the back of the farm. The little angel wore knee socks and never said a word. Mom and dad would never have known had she not told inadvertently them about the story as she related it at a Dale Carnegie course fifteen years later. Undeterred, she went on to get her own bike.
- At 24, I dropped my friend Debra off the back of my 650 Yamaha. She remembers it better than I but apparently we pulled into the parking lot at a local convenience store and I lost my balance, couldn’t hold us up and over we went. She’s still not over it and hasn’t been a passenger since. We are still best friends however.
- Newly separated in 2003 and eager to demonstrate my independence, I pulled into an Esso station to fuel up my then-new FZ1 before meeting friends for a ride. For some reason, I decided that was also a good time to check the oil level. Never having done it before, I heaved it up on the center stand, then filled the tank. The oil level was fine, but I couldn’t get it off the stand. My feet dangled inches above the ground when I sat on the seat. Finally, standing beside it, I put the side stand down, and gave it a mighty heave, intending to pull it towards me. Unfortunately I pushed it too hard away from me and it fell on its right side. Two burly guys stood staring but not for long. I composed myself and took charge, commanding them, “Don’t just stand there. Come over here and pick it up!” And that’s exactly what happened.
- Sometime around age 50, I took my niece Andrea, age 10, for a ride on the back of my FZ1. The curb cut at the end of their driveway was very high and I had precious cargo so I was cautious. Too cautious and made an amateur mistake, using the front brake as I turned out of the driveway. Over we went. She too was a real sport and not fazed. Her dad, my brother, who’d been watching, helped me pick it up. She got back on, put on her gloves, and we continued our ride.
- Finishing up a day of photo shoots in 2013, I stopped at the nearby Morningstar Mill at Decew Falls in St. Catharines to unwind a bit before heading home. My Super Ténéré was still new and unblemished. Riding in the loose gravel driveway I
suspected I might have trouble getting it out. I’d parked on a grade with the front wheel lower than the rear, and a slight drop to the right. I’d have to pull it back up against gravity, on gravel. I managed to move it about a foot and then decided to find help. Thinking I had the side stand down, I began walking away, turning around with horror when I heard the crash. There was no one around to help and I couldn’t lift it uphill on gravel. I went out the road and waited for the right vehicle to flag down. The taller of the two guys who jumped out of the white utility van picked it up as if it was a toy.
Motorcycle safety is always serious business and I don’t take it lightly. However, with these barely moving incidents, there’s usually a lighter side, as well as lessons.
What secrets do you have about your motorcycle experiences?