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I'm So Over Motorcycles

By William on Thu, May 21st 09 at 10:43AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Two months ago I knew for a fact that I would never, ever, crash a motorcycle. How did I know this? Because I knew that I would never ride one. My whole life I've thought they were way too dangerous, and had never even considered getting on one. Then something changed all that. The "Top Gear Vietnam Special."

On the plane to Thailand, we had a fantastic selection of movies and shows we could watch on the little TV's on the back of every seat in the plane. After watching a couple episodes of "The Simpsons", I found the Vietnam special. To make a long story short, they spend 7 days riding motorcycles through Vietnam, and it is amazing.

2 weeks later, Sam and I were renting our motorcycles in Ha Noi. I won't go into the details of the entire trip. Don't worry, the videos will come out soon. I just want to describe one particular event.

Day 3, Cam Pha city on the east coast. We're just riding through, the traffic not particularly bad when suddenly (as is often the case in Vietnam) someone pulls straight out in front of Sam. He managed to stop, but I saw it just a split second too late and when I hit the brakes my tires found no traction on the wet, slimy pavement. I went into a slide, turned sideways and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the ground with a nice bruise on my hip and some very muddy jeans.  I was a little shaken, but otherwise fine.  With the help of a friendly local from a shop across the street, we got my bike fixed and were on our way.

3 weeks later, we'd been living in Chiang Mai Thailand for a while and I got tired of being confined to places within walking distance or taking son taus (pickup trucks turned into taxis).  I decided I would go rent a motorbike since they are ridiculously cheap (mine was $3 a day).  Plus the traffic in Chiang Mai, compared to Vietnam, is almost civilized.

For a week I rode around without incident.  Looking for good books, exploring the city and some of the mountains nearby.  It was very nice, and I started to think about how nice it would be to have a motorcycle when I got home.

Sunday morning, I went with two of our couchsurfing friends to Wat-Umong, an awesome temple, and then got wonderful Thai massages for $3.  On the way back, we're riding along when a truck in front of me suddenly decides to stop in the middle of the road.  I saw this and started to slow down with plenty of time to stop, not noticing that this section of the road was covered with a light dusting of dirty and gravel.  I found myself in the very familiar situation of my bike sliding sideways.  I didn't fall off the back this time, though, I continued to slow down controlling the slide.  Just when I thought I was actually not going to crash, my tires hit clean pavement, came to a screeching halt and threw me directly off the bike.

For a minute I just sat there in the street next to my bike.  I really couldn't believe I had just crashed again.  Alwyn and Paul rode up on their bike to see if I was ok, and other than a nasty looking scrape on my palm, I was.  They drove me back to my apartment and Alwyn skillfully helped me deal with my injured hands.  As she was pouring hydrogen peroxide on my hands and cleaning dirt out of my scrapes, I decided.  I'm so over motorcycles.


Fun Lilliy wrote on May 21st 09 at 09:21AM
Glad to read that your OK.I think motorcycles are kind of unpredictable. I hate riding them. When I was a child I was burnt by a hot engine on the side of my thigh that I still have a big scar from. I dislike them.
Mom wrote on May 21st 09 at 10:24AM
Ouch!! Your right hand looks like it was really painful. So thankful nothing more serious happened and that your motorcycle days are over!
Emmy A wrote on May 21st 09 at 10:24AM
my husband and i just traveled to vietnam in april. we rented a motorbike too. we were driving to a village outside sapa and wrecked too. about 10 village kids came running to see the accident and he was bleeding, but his pride was hurt more than anything. of course, we also had three people (adam, me, and our guide) on the bike, so that probably was a contributing factor to our wreck. i'm impressed you drove a motorbike in hanoi. we waited until we were out of the city.
Jason wrote on May 21st 09 at 12:25PM
That hand looks painful! I have never rode a motorbike before either, but I guess that will end if I am in SE Asia.
judy wrote on May 22nd 09 at 12:56AM
eee, scary! everyone i've ever known who owns a motorcycle has crashed on it at one time or another. i knew a boy, tucker, who successfully managed to not get so much as a scratch while serving in iraq for a year who then came home and promptly got into an accident on his bike. ~_~ broken arm, collarbone and a few ribs. even daddy, who's SUPER careful about everything, was in an accident when he owned a bike ((truck hit him and he ended up sliding UNDER the truck...eee...)). i don't mind bikes being used for sightseeing or whatever, but day to day riding is just too dangerous. its not even the bike itself, its other idiots on the road!
Arun wrote on May 22nd 09 at 02:56AM
Ouch! Thats bad, twice in a month. Thankfully doesnt seem like a serious injury.

The most important thing about riding in Asia is to be ready for surprises. With that, you will be fine. Don't shun the motor cycle! :)
Amanda wrote on May 22nd 09 at 05:37PM
It's really hard to find bandaids to cover and stick to a wound right there. Not that I speak from experience or anything. :)
Flor Cuellar wrote on May 25th 09 at 07:51AM
Very Good!!!
Marcel De Castillo wrote on May 25th 09 at 07:53AM
kat calvin wrote on June 4th 09 at 05:18AM
I'm living in Phnom Penh right now and this story is exactly why I refuse to ride a moto... well, this story and all of the stories I've heard about death by moto crash! Glad you're alright though!
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