When the front tire lost grip I got slapped on the ground at a brisk 90 mph. I was pinned under the bike as it slid across the pavement, but once we hit the dirt beyond the edge of the track both the CBR600RR and I began to tumble violently. Once I’d come to a stop, picked myself up, and began limping toward the wrecked bike, the first piece of debris I came across was the CBR’s owner’s manual, cover up, displaying Honda’s decades-old slogan: Stupid hurts. Talk about adding insult to injury! And I was indeed injured. Once the EMTs got me out of my leathers, we discovered a gaping hole in my knee ugly enough to elicit a gasp from the guy in the latex gloves—never a good sign. I had also abraded a dime-size section of my foot down to the bone and bruised or strained the rest of my body. Then there was the Honda—with only about 200 miles on the odometer—that I’d turned into scrap metal.
Brimming with confidence after a successful race weekend on my little CBR250R, I underestimated the acceleration of the new CBR600RR I was testing. I rocketed out of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway’s turn three and grabbed fourth gear as I sped around the outside of another rider. The pass placed me on the wrong side of the track for the upcoming left-hand turn, while the strong drive put my speed well above where it was at this spot in earlier laps. You cover a lot of ground at 100 mph, and as I sat up to brake I found myself running wide into the ripples created by cars’ outside wheel tracks. The front tire slipped as I rolled over the first bump, sending me to the ground.
Everything that went wrong that morning—and I’ll admit that I made a number of poor decisions—stemmed from an overabundance of excitement and an overconfident attitude. We all love riding, but we can’t let that enthusiasm cloud our judgment and keep us from giving our bodies time to warm up and our brains time to fully assess the day’s factors. I’ve got a big, ugly scar on my left knee to remind me to ease into things, and I wouldn’t wish that for anyone. It’s important to to curb your emotions, check your ego, and begin with care any time you let the clutch out on a motorcycle, no matter how excited, familiar, or confident you may feel.