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'Falling is a shame' – column

Falling is a shame

You don't always have a say in who you hang out with. I had to make a quick stop because my leg had become quite greasy. Luckily I was riding in shorts, so I discovered the phenomenon before the oil ran out. There was already a group of motorcyclists in the parking lot where I had to do some tinkering. Modern motorcyclists. On All Road or Adventurebikes. Impressive! And dressed hyper-safely despite the fact that the thermometer was touching 30 degrees.

We looked disapprovingly from a distance until one of the GS pilots dressed in CE protectors (do you know how much those things cost?) pilot came up to me together with one of his companions. Not to express his admiration for my well-worn tricycle, but to criticize my clothing. If one adventure rider is over the dam, more will follow. While I was fixing my oil leak, I was looked at as if I were some strange animal. Because those clothes…. Shorts, a T-shirt and sandals… Someone gathered his courage and reprimanded that bikers like me were making health care costs unaffordable. I looked at him mildly and said, “It's just a matter of not falling. That's not that difficult if you can ride a motorcycle. But when I see your clothes, you have little faith in your own abilities.”

The conversation remained friendly. One man went on to explain in detail that he was safe, yet cool because his outfit offered a range of ventilation options. And he wore a special Australian type of wet shawl that prevented him from getting sunstroke in his neck. We didn't really understand each other, but there was a certain tolerance. Nothing wrong with real motorcycle clothing, but everything in its time and place.

That danger and the health and care costs became clear a few days later. A herd of Mamils ​​(middle aged men in lycra, somewhat mature cyclists) had set out in their typical compact herd. Drunk by old testosterone, two of them had gone off track or something. Racing cycling should not be underestimated. They were seriously injured. The newspaper reported that six ambulances and an air ambulance had been sent to the scene. Plus a few police cars. That costs serious money!

They never had to make such a turnout for me, not even the time my CB750 crashed on a diesel track. I could have been better dressed, but with fresh asphalt eczema I just trudged home and put myself in the disinfectant bandage spray. That hurt and made me anticipate even more in traffic after the worst of the stiffness from the abrasions had disappeared. For the rest, there have been some scratches in the paint in just 50 years of motorcycling. But when I look at my body now, I file it under 'patina'. A lady once looked at my divine body in the sauna. She noticed some old scratches in the paint. And her friend reported: “Look, you now also have them as a kit.”

Not much damage has occurred over the past thirty years. Because I once read an interview with a German motorcycle legend (Klacks) in which this motorcycle guru made his statement: “Every fall is a shame”. As in: “Your own fault, big lump”. I almost agree. Because we are vulnerable and should not rely on our 'rights' in traffic, but we must be as careful as a mouse under the kitchen sink in a house where three cats also live.

In terms of vulnerability, each example naturally weakens the argument. With my previous classic sidecar combination I totally lost a Deawoetje or some kind of Korean pastry. I was only left with some muscle pain. But we are vulnerable. And things go wrong.

There must be something to it somewhere, because the statistics prove – or at least show – that the number of motorcycle accidents is increasing. And that is due to 'single-sided accidents'. Accidents in which no other parties were involved other than the crasher. And that is - I think - because motorcycles have become so fast and because many motorcyclists have their motorcycle as a 'lifestyle' toy in addition to the convertible, the camper and - there it is again - the racing bike. I heard that a racing bike with which you can show your friends that you are not just someone on a bicycle can easily cost € 10.000. Those motorcyclists would benefit from a VRO and a little more than the 2D km they apparently drive on average on an annual basis.

But I agree with them, those safety clothing wearers. Despite the long product development time, such a human body is sensitive to damage. So now I have a burn on my leg. And I got that because I was stoking the bar BQ in my shorts. It's always something.




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  1. When you buy a pack of cigarettes, it says it is fatal. I have never seen that on a motorcycle. Was a good reason for me to quit smoking. I still ride motorcycles, even though I'm 70+. I never missed smoking.

  2. Well, there are two types of motorcyclists, those who have fallen and those who still have to fall.
    And of course that often happens at the beginning of your motorcycle career because you are inexperienced and the longer you ride, the better you learn to drive defensively, you follow one or more VROs and you also become more careful.
    But no matter what they all say, it remains a wonderful thing to do.

  3. .Beautiful story Dolf.Yes, I have acquired the name Klacks as a nickname over the years.I am proud of my nickname Ernst Leverkoes. Long journeys in ancient times. Greetings Martin from that old Honda.

  4. You can apply for fall prevention from the local WMO.
    And people with a sidecar are already pretty well on their way, they already have 1 training wheel.

    Rising healthcare costs are not so much caused by motorcyclists or “brave handlebar Appers” but by the “fantastic” decision of our government at the time to leave it to insurers with a profit motive as a starting point.
    It is now clear that healthcare premiums will rise again before 2024...

  5. Well, we can act cool and say that we shouldn't fall and that as an accomplished motorcyclist we don't do that either, but the fact remains that an accident can happen to anyone and it doesn't always have to be your fault. Even if you have been riding a motorcycle for 100 years in your shorts, bare feet and have barely had any damage, it could still be your turn tomorrow. And then you'll probably be happy if you were wearing protective clothing. And no, it doesn't have to be thirty thick layers of highly fluorescent, luxurious, ventilated multi-use suits with 358 pockets and closures, just a leather motorcycle jacket will suffice.
    I think those anecdotes of 'I have been driving in shorts and sandals for so many years and have never had anything' fall into the category 'grandfather has been smoking a pack of rolling tobacco every day for 80 years and drinking half a bottle of gin every day and he is still alive '. Works well at the bar or on birthdays, but is unfortunately not representative, because most people are (seriously) damaged with such a lifestyle. No matter how tough you are, the asphalt/guardrail/cars are always harder than you. It is true that you are in trouble, but you are also burdening others with it (worried family members and friends, ambulance personnel, police, etc. and indeed the level of healthcare costs).

    Call me an old whiner, but it's better for everyone if you just wear good clothing on the motorcycle.

    • Hi Henk,

      Your story and view on not having – or having – protection is a clear and sensible story. And I can agree with that, but not completely. Unless I felt that my mission in life would be to survive – something that anyone who can think a little further would consider completely pointless. Or live to avoid every possible inconvenience, so live with the brakes on. My mission in life is much more to 'experience' and to be less concerned with the 'what if' scenarios. I hope it never happens to me, a long and extremely painful healing process as a result of a slider. And that's why I almost always drive defensively. But I will not let it deprive me of enjoying every day. And that always involves a certain risk. Indeed, 'man, dare to live'. The moment I think I really need this protection (leather and textile) for my safety, I stop riding motorcycles. Because I'm not crazy.

  6. I once had a horrible crash at 65 km/h, dressed in a Belstaff jacket and trousers and wooden clogs. There was nothing wrong with me despite the lack of protection. Years later, I get off the motorcycle, standing still, fully equipped in BMW motorcycle clothing with ditto boots and accompanying serious (because BMW) fall protection. I slip on a layer of sand and break my metatarsal bone. Sometimes you have those days...

  7. This is how I came home from work with my motorcycle. Our children, who were about 4, 7 and 9 years old at the time, were ready to ride with me on their motorcycle around the square in front of our house. A neighbor with two kiddos from the same age group came to me pedantic and with disdain and said with a drawn-out disapproving statement: “What you are doing is very dangerous.”
    I agreed that if the car tipped over at walking speed, scratches and bumps would indeed appear. But I also pointed out to her in return that I had often observed that she had her kiddos sitting loose in the car, standing upright at 80 km/h on the local B-road, as if they were chimpanzee Judy from the early Jungle doctor Daktari. stood between the chairs. I asked her if she could imagine if she and the car hit the back of something at that speed, how her children would be thrown forward at the same speed and hit the dashboard. Or, if they were to fly over that obstacle, they would blow out the windshield with bravado and then exchange the present for the hereafter on the road surface. That made her cry and she had nothing in return. My prediction came true when she had to make an emergency stop in the residential area here and, yes..., their youngest hit the dashboard in a straight line between the seats in a straight line. The result was bruises, a ridiculous bump on the forehead, a bleeding lip and a lost baby tooth. From now on, the children would be properly strapped in. Afterwards I gently asked if she might consider putting her children in protective motorcycle gear in the car. It does not require much insight that this question would push the proportions over the boiling point 😂.

    • Neither is good, right? One of the reasons that the number of road casualties has fallen so drastically over the last 40 years is due to the introduction of all kinds of safety measures (more than 1980 deaths around 3.000, around 650 in recent years with more people). So it is simply safer (= better for your future) to secure children in the car and wear good clothing on the motorcycle.

  8. This summer I (69) was approached by a member of the 'lifestyle guild' about my shorts and boat shoes. Now a motorcycle is not a boat, but he did not come to explain that inequality. No, it had to do with my “irresponsible” choice of clothing. By the way, we all know here how those comments almost never come out when you wear Ordi long trousers. Anyway, I tried to reassure this gentleman somewhat when I told him that I actually drove around a bit more dressed during the winter months... But I saw from his face that this only displaced his amazement. Definitely different world.

  9. Dolf, despite our small age difference, I understand your approach.
    Call it “outer Randstad sobriety”, because you mainly find it in the North and East of the Netherlands.
    Just put them in a short 'box' and clogs on the moped, and if that is not possible or fits, you have bought the wrong moped..
    Many of my mopeds are so old and come from a carefree era that the clogs are a welcome addition as extra brake shoes in these current stressed ABS times...
    Mainly a matter of anticipating and braking calmly, just like an oil tanker does when it has passed Cornwall and Rotjeknor appears on the radar...

    • We in West Friesland and the Kop van NoordHolland have the same approach...
      This lady also rode around on the '77 Z1000 in flip-flops and a summer top.
      And I would do that again.
      I have only fallen twice in my motorcycling career, both over an oil slick on the asphalt and at low speed.
      Apart from the shock and a broken mirror, there was no damage.

      At 200 kmh (there were not so many speed cameras back then) avoiding an overtaking Mercedes Diesel on the left lane was also easy for me...
      He was going to overtake a truck with a difference of 2 to 3 kmh...
      And didn't look but spontaneously put the thing in front of my front wheel.

      The redress strip was wide enough to avoid the trunk and the protruding mirrors.
      Grandma is still alive...

      • Cool, grandma. You can also simply say that it was not very wise to overtake a few cars in that way with 200 and that you were just very lucky. Have you ever seen what someone looks like when they crash into a Mercedes diesel/truck/guardrail at 200?

        • In retrospect, I never said that I still tour the roads with 200+ on my moped.
          In fact, due to a car accident through no fault of my own (while stopped at a traffic light), I no longer ride a motorcycle at all.

          But grandma can dream of times gone by (40 years ago)

          • You also point out something that also underlies many accidents; people who don't look out of their minds enough. Even if you stick to the permitted speed, such situations as you describe can arise. Nowadays, the mobile toy is often pointed to as a reason for (near) accidents, but the undersigned, who spends a lot of time on the road, can tell from empirical observation that well before the mobile era, things either went well or not well because the driver attention elsewhere or not at all...

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