By Sergio Laurente
Sometime in the early 2000’s, I had a bad get-off on South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ. I was doing a few solo trips up and down the mountain in the middle of a weekday, and had one of those “I’ll do one more run up and down” moments before calling it quits. The base of the mountain was only a couple miles from home, so I made the trip often and rode it dozens of times with my 2001 RC51. Also, the base to the top isn’t very long, maybe five miles, so it went by pretty quick – which results in the desire to run it multiple times. The road was such a comfortable go-to for me, I didn’t always make wise decisions and got lazy about my safety.
The ride up went smooth for the first half, then on a leaning right, I took throttle liberties a little too far. Extra gas on the SP1’s v-twin meant that the rear was primed to break loose and I fell, sliding on my leg as the bike careened forward, stopping a few feet short of flying off the canyon side.Thankfully no cars were coming the other way. On a positive note, I was alive and my bike didn’t shoot itself into a cactus hundreds of feet below.
On the other hand, my right knee was chewed up, with many internal parts visible that were not supposed to be. Still though, I was able to limp to my Honda and pick the bike up. The right peg and foot brake were no longer existent, but the rest of the damage was pretty much cosmetic and the R&G sliders did their job. The important part was that the bike was rideable, now I had to tend to my limbs. I tore off a section of my already ripped jeans and tied a knot for pressure on the largest gash just below my patella. Since I wasn’t far from home, I just had to ride a few miles in the bike’s, and my, respective conditions.
After a ton of time healing (and nurse scraping to remove road debris from my joint), I was able to reflect on the incident and come to a couple of conclusions. First – I need to wear all my gear, all of the time, no matter how familiar I am with my bike, how comfortable I am with the route, length of the ride, or location. My jacket, gloves, and boots did their job. However, wearing jeans did absolutely nothing for me – other than providing a decent makeshift bandage. Secondly, the public roads is not a place for aggressive riding, especially when there was a track only a few miles further, the Phoenix Firebird Raceway.
If everything happens for a reason, those two conclusions were the reason for this incident. When I was good to ride again, I took the RC51 to Firebird for my first trackday. I ended up learning that I had so much to learn and picked up a beater F4i to become a better pilot (the heavily photoshopped pic below is of my second trackday). Downgrading my trackbike was definitely one of the most important things I did for my own skill development.
Anyway, it has been a couple years since my last trackbike and I think it is time to get back on. Hopefully, one of my next blogs will be about that.