Riding motorbikes is a great way to make yourself look seriously, seriously cool. But they can also make you look really daft, if (when) you get it wrong. And I should know, because I’ve got it wrong myself on numerous occasions. In fact I’ve spent my life ‘getting it wrong’ and being laughed at. So in an act of utter self-deprecation, I’m going to share 5 ways I’ve embarrassed myself on a motorbike, so you won’t embarrass yourself the same way.
Crashing when you’re not moving
Not only have I done this myself a few times, I’ve seen quite a few others do it too. And I’m very ashamed to say, I find it difficult not to laugh when I see it happen to others. Because it’s usually quite funny. It certainly must have been funny the other year when I did it in a busy town centre, in front of what felt like thousands of on-lookers.
I thought I looked really ‘hip’ as I strode up to my CBR600 parked outside the college. And I probably did until I tried to climb on it. As I swung my leg over, I didn’t give it enough hight to clear the bag strapped to the pillion seat. So rather than get my leg over it, I booted the aforementioned bag and kicked my bike onto the floor. I then of course lost balance and ended up falling onto my bike before dramatically rolling away from it.
As I listened to the roars of laughter, all of a sudden, I didn’t feel quite so hip.
Telling people you’re really fast
Telling people that you’re really fast is always setting yourself up for a fall. Unfortunately I didn’t see it like that, back when I was a kid. My first mistake was telling myself I was really fast. But the thing is, before I went to race in BSB, I genuinely thought I was. And because I was convinced I was really fast, and I was going to be the next big thing, I tried to persuade all my sponsors of it too, in the hope that they’d cough up the spondoolies I needed to go and race in the British Championship.
When I finally got to BSB, I realised I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was. But by that point it was too late. I’d already told everyone I was expecting to be winning races and in the Superstock championship chase.
After bulling myself up, the fact that I spent the first few rounds barely qualifying was downright embarrassing. But, to be fair, I’d brought it on myself. The moral of the story is that there’s always someone faster than you… and in my case back then, there were a lot of people faster!
Diving in at the deep end
After racing bikes for 25 years, you’d have thought I’d have a reasonable idea where my level is. It turns out I don’t. Because just this year I decided to get back into motocross, after not riding competitively off-road for 15 years. I didn’t go there all guns blazing because I’d learnt not to big myself up too much, but that didn’t mean I didn’t embarrass myself when I got there.
The problem was that I entered an MX Nationals British Amateur Championship round. I thought, being the ‘Amateur’ championship, it’d be alright. But it wasn’t. I was so far off the pace, it was utterly embarrassing. I think I got lapped by every other person in the race. I was so far out of my depth that it literally hurt, and I was trying so hard that I could barely hold onto the bike.
I quickly realised it’s unwise to enter a championship you know nothing about. Next time I enter something new I’m going to do more research. And more practice.
Running out of fuel
Running out of fuel once is annoying, but it happens. Running out of fuel twice is fairly daft, but forgivable. If you do it three times, you need to give your head a bang. But if you do it three times in the space of a month, like I did a few years ago, well that’s just embarrassing. Twice on a road bike, and once on an enduro bike.
As it happened, it wasn’t too much of a drama when I ran out of fuel on the enduro bike; I was with some mates who I managed to bum some fuel off. But it was a massive pain in the ringer when I ran out of fuel on my old R1, on the road.
If you’re wondering what’s so embarrassing about that, I’ll tell you; it happened on the exact same road, on the exact same journey, at the exact same time, twice within a week. Well I say within a week, it happened on a Monday on the way home from work, and then again the following Monday. And that’s not the half of it.
To add embarrassment to insult, this happened. After the mile or so walk in my leathers on the second Monday, I had to buy myself a 5l fuel can, and a gallon of petrol from the exact same girl I had done a week previously. She was really fit, and probably thought I was a right knobber. Unfortunately, she was right.
Riding into a stationary object
Trees, lampposts and garden walls don’t jump out on you, but it doesn’t stop us riding our bikes into them, does it? Well it doesn’t stop me, anyway.
And my ability to ride a motorcycle into anything that’s not moving started at an early age. I think I’d have been about 4 or 5, riding round the garden on my old P-Dub (Yamaha PW50). I had friend over so, naturally, I was showing off. 4 year old me obviously thought there was nothing more impressive than riding a motorcycle whilst simultaneously carrying a bucket.
I remember looking over for my little mate, desperate to see an impressed look on their face. I didn’t see one. I saw a horrified look on their face instead. The reason they were horrified was because I was heading straight for a massive tree. I didn’t see the tree until I was wiping the blood and snot out of my eyes. I made a terrible mess of my face and the P-Dub looked a bit second hand afterwards, but I believe the bucket survived.