Sunday 30 April 2023

The Monkey Motorbike Diaries - Episode 6: Dropping the bike

Just when you think you're getting the hang of it..... and you have that really embarrassing fall.

I am really enjoying riding my Honda Monkey, and I must say I even feel I have a bit of status because I ride my minimotorbike with no L-plates - unlike most other riders on small motorbikes and scooters around London.

I guess that comes with pros and cons. It's great that people can look at me and view me as someone who takes their motorbiking a little bit seriously, riding with all the correct protective gear, being responsible on the road, and not thrashing the bike around like a frisky teenager. 

But on the other hand, folks may also look at you like you are this really experienced bike rider. And then some of the newbies may even follow my line when filtering through traffic. Look, I'm just ad-libbing things and learning on the job. It may even be that some motorbikers with L-plates have been riding on the road for more years than I have been. The difference between us is just that they have chosen not to take the test for a full licence, preferring to renew their Compulsory Basic Training certificate every two years. So who knows they may actually be better bike riders than I even though they have L-plates. If that is the case, I am confident that it won't always be the case. I am determined to do all the courses and activities that will make me good, safe motorcyclist.

However, for now, I have to put up with those silly schoolboy errors. Top of the list of silly errors is dropping the bike when riding at a slow pace. I remember dropping the bike a couple of days after I bought the Monkey. It was pretty embarrassing, as I pulled into the driveway of my house and as I accelerated a little to get the bike to ride over the ramp in the kerb, I must have accelerated a bit too much and ended up losing control of the bike as there was a rapid surge in momentum. At that point me and the Monkey were in a heap on the pavement. 

Before I had time to think about any damage to the bike or my body, I focussed very quickly on getting back on my feet, hoping that nobody had seen what was a rather embarrassing fall. I picked myself up trying to style it out as though the tumble had been a planned action - not!

Apart from that, I hadn't had any mishap on the bike until now, when I was parking in a residential street next to Hampstead Heath to go to the Lido. It was a lovely sunny morning and I was enjoying riding down this tree-lined cul-de-sac with its Victorian red-brick houses. Finding a space on the other side of the road I did a very slow U-turn, then before I knew it, the bike lost momentum and wobbled. My gut reaction was to try and rescue the fall. But at this point I was already heading for the ground, and I was beyond rescue. Both me and the Monkey flipped sideways and I had hit the deck, with the bike lying on top of my leg. The engine continued running for a few seconds more before stalling.

I didn't feel any pain as the thickness of my Kevlar trousers must have absorbed the force. Motorcycle gear is definitely worth investing in. I would have felt very embarrassed, but in fact my biggest issue was how to get up. The bike weighs 104kg, which is light compared with most motorcycles. Nevertheless, it felt like a tonne and I was completely unable to move it. I was trapped. The saving grace was that this was a small cul-de-sac, so no chance of traffic passing through. Unhelpfully, no pedestrians were coming through either.  So I was faced with the prospect of just lying there until someone could help me. 

Luckily, two young women emerged from one of the houses. When they saw me they looked shocked and at the same time mystified as to what to do. I asked if they could lift the bike for me. The younger woman bent down to reach the bike. I felt a little awkward as I didn't know how strong she would be, and I would've been horrified if she'd put her back out. 

"Thanks, that's great. I can do the rest now," I said to her as she tried to bring the bike into an upright position. All I had needed was for the bike to be lifted enough for me to remove my leg from underneath it. Then I could stand myself and the Monkey back up. I was really grateful for her help. "Are you alright?" She asked, looking quite worried for me. "Oh, I am fine. There's no harm done," I replied. At that moment a cycle courier on a scooter appeared from nowhere, and also asked if I was okay. Then I began to feel silly. When you're on an eye-catching bike like the Honda Monkey you should be able to walk the walk, not hit the deck!

"I'm totally fine," I replied. "I made a silly mistake when doing my U-turn. I just feel really embarrassed!"

"Don't worry about it. We've all done that. But you're okay, right?" The young man enquired. 

I told him I was fine, before he went along on his way and continued his day, as did the two women. 

A quick inspection of the bike showed no damage, apart from to the right wing mirror which had come loose. This road turned out to be a a convenient place to have a mishap as there was a Kwik-Fit garage right opposite. The guy quickly resolved the issue by screwing the wing mirror back on, and everything was fine. Of course I would be getting the bike checked over properly once I got home.

After that mini drama, I found a parking space a little further away, and swam my cares away at Parliament Hill Lido.

There was no harm done during this fall. Most bikers wouldn't class it as a fall, but as dropping the bike. It is said to be one of the most common incidents, and can happen to anyone regardless of experience. That's reassuring to hear, but what I need to do is to learn how to pick myself up after such incidents.  In fact, I must say that this "bike drop" is one reason to stick to mini-motos like the Monkey, and not get a larger bike. I need something I can easily lift in these instances, or at least any passer-by helping me can easily lift.

Better still, I should try not to drop the bike - or at least learn to style it out if I do drop it!

Related posts 

The Monkey Motorbike Diaries - Episode 5

The Monkey Motorbike Diaries - Episode 4

The Monkey Motorbike Diaries - Episode 3

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