So you fell off. Happens to everyone, don’t be embarrassed and, most importantly, don’t get scared. Get back on as soon as you can, doing so will work wonders for your confidence and save your months or years of mental anguish and decaying self-confidence.
Here’s some tips on how to ride a motorcycle again after your first crash.
Step One: Your Gear
Did your helmet touch down in your crash? If you have any sort of doubt that it might have, you have to get a new one. Like the crumple zone on a car, they’re one-impact only, sacrificing themselves to save your life. Jackets, armour, boots etc are more forgiving, but be honest with yourself — if that equipment has been damaged, will it still work to protect you? It’s not worth saving a little cash only to ride in damaged gear. The materials might look okay…..but is the stitching?
Step Two: Your Bike
Did you damage your bike? Even in a mild drop, it can incur unseen, but critical damage. Things like tweaked forks or crimped fork tubes or even a bent frame or steering yoke can be difficult to detect, but could make your motorcycle an accident waiting to happen. For peace of mind, ask a mechanic to check it out before you climb back on. This isn’t to say that you need to return your bike to showroom condition — doing so is prohibitively expensive — but you need to make sure it’s not dynamically compromised in any crucial way. If you’ve suffered significant injuries that impair your physical ability or comfort, you may find it helpful to buy a small, light, cheap bike to ride until you’re fully recovered.
Step Three: Your First Ride
You’re going to be nervous, there’s just no getting around that. To offset your nerves, plan a short, manageable ride at a time and place where traffic is light or, ideally, non-existent. And don’t try to return to the scene of the crime; if you crashed on an A road, do your first ride back on less travelled roads. If you crashed in the rain, make sure you ride on a sunny day. Just getting back on your bike will be enough of a demon to tackle, don’t make it worse than you have to. Pick ideal conditions, don’t try to get back out when it’s too cold. Full gear will also be a confidence booster. There’s nothing better than knowing that, even if you do go down, chances are you won’t be hurt. It’s also a good idea to tackle this particular obstacle on your own. That way there’s no pressure to perform in front of friends. And, just take it easy. Go for a nice little ride, feel the wind on your face, see some sights, smell some smells and go home with a sense of both confidence and accomplishment.
Step Four: Practice
You won’t be back up to speed right away. Depending on your experience, the severity of the injuries you suffered, your physical recovery and your mental state, it will likely be some time before you regain all your riding skill. After a crash I was involved in on Roehampton Lane, it took me several months before I was truly comfortable again; I was a bit of a nervous wreck for the entirety of the first month and didn’t ride much, also due to my legs being so bruised. Just invest the time to re-learn and practice all the important riding skills. Do this on your own or/and ask an Observer.
Step Five: Confront Your Demons
Was the crash predicated on a certain set of conditions — heavy traffic, poor weather? Once you’re ready, you’re going to need to face that challenge again and prove to yourself that you can beat it. If you don’t, you’ll be saddled with nagging doubts in the back of your brain. Work up to it, and getting it right, finally, is going to feel better than ever. Tackling the thing that hurt you is what will finally clear your head of the self- doubt and return your full riding ability.
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