Falling with Finesse
Everyone who rides off-road eventually crashes. It is inevitable. Gravity plays a large part. Not everyone crashes with finesse, however. To fall with finesse, you have to remember one important rule: hang onto the bars to the very end.
Once in a while, hanging onto the bars produces unexpected results. You dirty your shorts, save it, and continue to ride. More typically, though, hanging on beyond the point of no return produces spectacular crashes. Ones like those found in the back of Dirt Bike magazine.
I have been perfecting this method of crashing since I pulled the training wheels off my first bicycle. The guys here can all attest to my abilities. On my first ride with Brad in the desert outside Barstow, I showed him how to Superman a 300+ pound XL600 over chair-sized boulders. The bike skipped from boulder to boulder and since I wouldn't let go, my right hand twisted the throttle with every bounce. My body was flapping on the seat in the classic Superman pose. Eventually, I ran out of rocks and ended up upside down under the bike. Brad couldn't stop laughing as he picked the bike up off my leg.
On another occasion, Brad and I were riding in one of the canyons of the Panamint Mountains. We came to a drop-off in a creek-bed that Brad went down first. He had some trouble going down, and he sensed a photo opportunity. I saw Brad's camera and announced that I was going gas it straight down the drop-off. I launched, hit the gravel at the bottom, careened back and forth for a bit and high-sided into a large boulder that Brad had taken refuge behind. That's another thing to keep in mind, always aim for your riding buddy. That way your best crashes will always be observed. I splatted on the boulder and then my 600 came up from behind to make sure I was soundly plastered to the rock. Unfortunately, since Brad was running for cover behind the boulder, he didn't catch the crash on film. I chalk that up to his inexperience as an action photographer. A passerby (which is pretty amazing in the Panamints) walked up and said, "You're OK, you've got pads." He then pushed against my chest, and feeling no pads said, "Bummer Dude." Brad refers to that incident as the "wet rag" crash.
My latest fall of finesse occurred at the granite bowl along the Rubicon Trail near Loon Lake. We always spend some time blasting around the granite bowl before we head on down the Trail. The "Crack" that Paul is demonstrating on the Crash -n- Burn page is located in the bowl. As we were riding around the bowl, I saw Jay working on his bike a bit below and off to the side. I decided I'd ride down and see what was up. I headed down and immediately drove off a ledge I hadn't seen. As the ground dropped away, I thought one thing, "I can make it." I cased on a ledge, weighted the rear of the bike, and bounced off the pegs. I still knew I could make it. Then a rock the size of a medicine ball caught the front wheel. I finally let go when I saw nothing but blue sky and clouds.
I discovered that Camelbacks make great shock absorbers. I also discovered that the camera in my fanny pack made a lousy shock absorber. Eventually, my KDX caught up with me added the final bit of finesse to the crash.. Jay had a front row seat for the whole thing. He was so impressed that he core dumped and forgot every detail. All he could say was, "Dude, don't move!" As soon as I got the broken camera out from under me, I assured him I wouldn't move, at least not until a 4-wheeler showed up with some beer.
So far, Paul is the best at emulating my style. He often can be seen at the top of a hill with his KDX suspended above him. He still has to work on separating too soon from his bike, though.
So, if you want your picture to make it into the back of the motorcycle magazines you've got to remember one thing, fall with finesse and never let go.