Sliding into Trouble
SGT. 1ST CLASS LITTELL WILLIAMS
306th Military Intelligence Brigade
Fort Hood, Texas
Exactly six months after I bought my first motorcycle, I had my first accident. It’s a day I’ll never forget.
Because of snow, I hadn’t ridden my Yamaha FZ6 for about two weeks. On this day, however, the sun was out and the snow was starting to melt. I figured this was the best riding weather I’d seen in a while, so I drove home on my lunch break to get my motorcycle. My wife warned me that this wasn’t a smart decision, but, of course, I didn’t listen. I knew I’d be home before sunset and the temperature dropped again.
As luck would have it, a meeting at work kept me tied up until 6 p.m. I knew the roads would be freezing over, meaning I would have to ride slowly to avoid an accident. I could have asked someone to take me home and picked up my motorcycle the next day, but, being hardheaded, I decided against it. Besides, I’d ridden in wintery conditions before, so I knew I could handle them again. I went outside, started the motorcycle and let it warm up while I put on my personal protective equipment, which included a two-piece leather suit, heated gloves, winter boots and a helmet. I then hopped on and twisted the throttle.
As I rode, I thought to myself that I only needed to make a right, a left and then another right before I was home-free. I made the first right, but as I started my left turn, the rear tire began to slide out from under me. I released the throttle and downshifted in hopes of keeping the bike upright. Suddenly, the tire gripped the road again and I lost control. I was thrown to the ground, landing on my right shoulder before hitting my head on the road. The motorcycle then landed on my right ankle. Embarrassed, I tried to get up and walk it off, but I was dazed, confused and in a lot of pain. To make a long story short, I lost a motorcycle that night and, for my troubles, got a day of bed rest and 30 days of light duty.
So where did I go wrong? I started out responsibly by taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse two months before even purchasing my motorcycle. When I did buy a bike, I took a friend with several years of riding experience with me to ensure I didn’t end up with something that was too advanced for my skill level. Unfortunately, as I got more comfortable with the bike, my confidence level soared out of control. I soon began to think there wasn’t a situation I couldn’t handle. Obviously, I was wrong.
I was lucky. I should have asked someone for a ride home. Better yet, I shouldn’t have even gone home to get my bike that day. I knew the weather conditions wouldn’t be favorable for riding if I didn’t leave before sundown, but I let my ego cloud my judgment. As riders, we have enough to worry about on the road. Let’s not add to it by making dumb decisions.