It is ironic. But I resigned to the fact that it was destined, and God only knows the wisdom behind.
Just over a week since a close friend passed away as a result of a horrible motorbike accident. And an accident happened to me. I survived it unscathed, just minor pains here and there, but the bike was badly damaged. Sometimes I felt embarassed as if it was from my own shortcoming (despite it clearly was the fault of the car driver!), but I cant help to feel inadequate. Is something wrong somewhere…? How I could ensure it will never happen again? How I could convince anyone to be my pillion passenger, again? Am I fit to ride to work, bustling the traffic congestion on daily basis, again?
Everything happened so fast…beyond thinkable…well it was going to be like any other normal day coming back home from work. …except a different route via Jln Tun Razak traffic congestion, and I was riding the Duke 200 for a change. Work ended early so I took the opportunity to send the bike for quick service at Pudu. Riding on the way home, post service (and removal of cut off point) I was a little too eager at times perhaps trying to test bike while forgetting that I had not ridden it in dense traffic for quite a while. Not that this was a problem, indeed Duke’s smaller profile made it easier to manouver, except, the absence of ABS for emergency braking. Suddenly I was confronted with an emergency situation, requiring sudden and forceful braking – the Myvi infront switched to the fast lane out of a sudden, without indication. Perhaps the less forgiving nature of Duke’s braking system coupled with a little harsh ride led to less than ideal reaction time, added by a major fault from the car in front that took a sudden lane switching without prior warning. Whatever, it had been fated that I ended up with a loud bang and the next thing I was thrown on the tarmac. The bike was badly damaged but I was fine. A number of bikers stopped to give help. A guy picked the bike and pushed it to the road side. The driver was a lady accompanied by her daughter. She repeatedly apologised and promised to work together to settle things. It turned out to be a three hours plus of waiting, towing the bike (assistance by Motoaid) and settling things at McDonas Auto. As late evening set in I laid down my jacket and stood up to perform Asar prayer on the roadside. The next prayer which was maghrib done at the workshop that needed me to climb up two flight of stairs in pain. It was not till the towtruck arrived I began to feel excruciating pain on my hips, which worsened when climbing. I tried to act strong in front of the wife and pretend I could walk normally but it didnt take too long to notice my predicament…even with multiple doses of analgesia the pain just became slightly more bearable… Thank God, things could have been much worse, it was solely with His Mercy I escaped the death.
I first alerted my bikers group – many responded worrying, wanting to know how I was. I reassured them that I was ok. I had to use the best of words to communicate to the wife of my situation, this did not come by till a little later. She called my handphone and I answerd calmly, telling her the bike had a breakdown, as a result of a minor accident – that I hit a car, nevertheless I was completely fine whilst the bike sustained serious damages. She understood and we made plan to meet at the workshop after the bike was delivered by the towtruck.
I did not post to the FB till the next day, I was thinking initially not to, more for the shame! and fearful of ‘hostile’ responses from some people. Many of them were taken by surprise when i posted my selfie taken immediately after the accident. That instantly gave the message that I wasn’t seriously hurt.
Most of them expressed sympathy at the tragedy. However, as anticipated there were a number who advised to give up riding or the like, such as:
Maybe it is time to consider going back to driving…
My cousin has lost his leg from the same motorcycle. Better abandon such dangerous activity!
If you love your wife/family, then no riding!
Superbike is good for ego but not for family at home…
The Head of Emergency Department doctor advised me against riding…
I chose to remain silent over the comments. Most of them are people I knew, who I know well do care, so thank you brothers and sisters. Anyway, up to now I have not the slightest thought of laying down my machine. Well, I may, on a serious note, get rid of the Duke soon, and go for a new ABS equipped machine (perhaps a scooter?, not certain yet).
Giving up on the Duke?
It does not in any way, mean that I am recalling all my previous compliments on KTM Duke 200. By now I realised, one of the most read posting in my blog are those on the Duke 200, and some people must have been influenced by my opinion. I still believe it a good bike, perhaps better with the ABS in action. Everything I said about before is still relevant. However, all in all, I don’t think anyone sensible would go back riding the same machine that had caused them to crash whatever it is. Just as much as one tries to avoid going through the same spot where he had the accident, not at least for the first few months. One will try as much as possible to wipe away the memory of the incident rather than keeping it close by, which may only raise your anxiety and affect your confidence level.
Having said that, let me make a little comment on the Duke’s behaviour that I thought may have been partly contributing to the incident. First the ABS. I have had three 2 near crash incidents in the past, resulted from sudden braking. I thought this had improved vastly since I practised the new braking technique (front brake more than rear, or mere front brake), while emergency braking requires both. However, with the Duke, sudden braking had always turned horror. My first experience of this was during rain, when I suddenly found myself approaching a 4 wheeler too close, on a wet road. So I tap the brakes firmly (rear more than front this time), and instantly the rear tire started to shake violently, my bike felt unstable, I thought I was going to fall, luckily there was just enough distance before I managed to stop, and the gap was quite wide. The second incident, also when the road was slightly wet, this time I was close, very close to a car when it suddenly came to a halt, I stomped the brakes and the tire wobbled again madly, I was about to hit the car, the bike skidded a bit which indeed took me a little away from the body of the car and I was saved.
The third instance was this time, when it resulted in a real, unfortunate accident.
No I don’t blame the bike, it just, maybe, didn’t suit my riding style (anymore). While I had been on the new bike, the Triumph STreet Triple for a year now, I have had no such encounter so far, thank God.
On the hand, I admitted, that I have lately been having a thrill with the Duke’s slick handling around corners, with its small body no doubt it still makes one of the best bikes at heavy traffic. Just you need extra caution when braking in wet condition, or when applying emergency brakes.
Yes, I do need to improve my riding skill futher, and meanwhile I should perhaps stick with ABS system to be safe.
Whose fault? Introspection, reflection on my riding
It didn’t take long before I felt I was ready to ride. In fact a week later I was back on the wheel, and two weeks later I joined a short convoy with friends from the MyIkram Bikers. Did I change my riding style? Not a bit…indeed as usual I remained the front runner with occasional sprint beyond a 170km/hr (yes, sounded nervous wrecking for a newbie who had just crashed his bike…!). As I was tracking along MRR2 nearing the exit to PLUS highway, suddenly I was caught at this particular tight bend, at a slightly higher speed, when the road felt unusually slippery. I nearly lost traction and let the bike verged to the extreme left, before picking myself up and regained speed. That was a nightmare and anything nasty could have happened that very moment, I thought…well, perhaps the absence of vehicles in the immediate surrounding had caused me to underestimate the danger and let the bike slipped rather wildly. Maybe, this sort of carelessness should not be repeated if I don’t want to see another mishap.
I looked back at my riding history – two years plus, almost 30,000kms, still relatively new as a rider, I would not claim myself as having enough riding experience. So, why being overconfident? Perhaps, I should rather take it easy, set a few rules to keep my ride safe and sound.
Speed is certainly a big thing. While cruising speed of over 140km/hr is an acceptable standard during group ride, perhaps a solo ride, during a relatively busy traffic should be limited to below this figure. While a densely busy traffic such that in MRR2 should not be filtered with anything more than 90-100km/hr. ‘Aggressive manouvers’ such as sudden lane switching, racing with other riders (the temptation is always there), or overspeeding while doing lane splitting, should be avoided. Lastly protective gears is an all time must.
Then, defensive riding skill should be sharpened. Special group training on handling the bike may also help
Riding remains a highly risky activity?
Sometimes, there is the inner feeling of fear, timidity, restlessness, as if something bad going to happen. Uncertainty reigns. Holding on to the bike, with my short stature, and ahead of me, hostile drivers, maddening traffic congestion – all conspired to shake my confidence. But once on the bike, throttle on, the confidence rose as the bike accelerates.
Once I sat down with those seasoned guys from our club MyIkram Bikers – on them indeed I found calm faces, who have blasted the wind, crossed the borders, filtered the depth of most tortuous roads in the country, swamped the darkness of the night with their bikes grazing thousands of miles of rough journeys. Years of riding experience, many falls, lost directions, breakdowns in the middle of nowhere – and with all that, no signs of regret nor fears. They spoke about how riders went on a serious mission, in the middle of night, risking their lives – they have done it years in, years out, many survived such priceless experience – yes they got big hearts. You don’t do such thing if you have no heart, no gut. Just sit at home and enjoy cozy and warm sofa. But the riding world is something different. Surely the bikes are not made for the faint hearted. You, have the heart. You are made of different materials. So be there, for the action. Fear of your life? Don’t you trust God?
Finally, once again, I made the resolution. I am a rider, and will always be. May God save me and help me to enjoy the riding while keeping myself in His rememberance.