Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Testing Man & Metal; RTA & I

Statistically it was bound to happen. In my eleventh year on two wheels and many thousands of kilometers I was involved in my first road traffic accident (RTA). I am lucky, very lucky. There is a saying among motorcyclists, "we all come off, some get back, some don't, some can't". I can get back on so I am looking at this as an experience I want to put behind me.

What happened? The classic "I did not see you" is the simple answer. Bear in mind that I was on my Buell Ulysses XB12XT, complete with all the boxes, I was wearing my high-vis vest, my pillion was wearing my Olympia gear (bright neon orange)...by no means inconspicuous. Add to that the accident happened at a junction, the van was beside me at a set of traffic lights and decided to turn left with no signal. I had managed to stop the motorcycle seeing him starting his turn, but he still hit me and carried on to finish the turn. I think the initial loud bang would have made me stop.

My pillion luckily had enough time to literally step from the bike onto the curb as we went down. I just remember the initial impact with the van and then seeing sky. Then police...fire brigade and ambulance staff. All seem to have seen this all before. I did get partially trapped under the bike but the side cases managed to keep the weight off me. So once lifted off I could slide onto the curb myself.

I was wearing my Nolan N102 helmet, it is scratched from going down but I felt nothing so it did its job exceptionally well. I was also wearing my Halvarssons Korax Jacket and matching Cobra pants. Over the jacket I had a new Teknic Kicker Vest. Again, I have some bruising on my arms and legs but that is the limit of my injuries. My back is also uninjured (I wear the optional Halvarssons back protector). The gear looks badly beaten up though, the trousers have even been riped so no longer fit-for-purpose. Again they performed exceptionally well, my lack of any serious injuries versus how beaten up they look stands as a testimony to their quality.

The Buell obviously faired less well...the local dealer (Dublin Harley-Davidson) have given me an estimate for the repairs but the motorcycle has been given the all-clear to ride. She looks bruised and battered (much like me) but has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Both of us are back on the road and getting more of that black tarmac under us but I have to admit that I am being a bit more cautious. Not always a good thing depending on the circumstances, but if nothing else I have a new found respect and admiration for my Buell!

Everyone has been great so far. The police that were on the scene in what felt like minutes. The fire brigade that helped me to my feat and the ambulance service who stayed with me and helped pick up my spirits. The friends who gave me a place to sleep that night and binge of pizza while I tried to make sense of what had happened. Also the guys in the dealership get full marks for getting in the motorcycle, checking it out and being an all-round great bunch.

Times like these test not just ourselves but also all those that our lives overlap. From the incident that started all this off in some warped domino affect. Which is still on-going as the insurance companies will now try to come to a compromise and draw a line under all this. I want to stay on two wheels as long as I can, a combination of identifying what was happening (my pillion jumped when they heard me screaming "STOP STOP STOP" which I do not remember!) and good gear have allowed me to limp away and ride another day.

As always, keep the rubber side down!