Archive for the ‘crashing’ Category

Rear Motorcycle Tire Slide | CSI: MOTO – Crash Scene Investigations

Investigation into how and why a rear motorcycle tire slide can cause a crash, as without two spinning tires, you have less or no steering. Sounds like common sense, but it is a bit trickier than that. I had more fun making this video, despite the fact I was making fun of my injured brother, it was a hoot trying a new format. I hope you enjoy the video.


Crash Anxiety in New and Returning Riders

If you are a new or returning motorcycle rider and DON”T have some anxiety about crashing, something is wrong. After riding with my little brother (returning rider) this past weekend, my anxiety level was very high as I rode behind him on some tricky
river twisties and even had a few puckers when I knew some of the really tricky corners came up. He did very well despite my
concerns, and hopefully some of the coaching and training paid off long term. Anxiety is good, and can be overcome with practice, training and confidence gained from both.

Weekend adventure illustrates two extremes

I love the video below because it illustrates well the two extremes of adventure motorcycles and gear. The whole idea of having a perfect bike for adventure is ludicrous, and hopefully after watching, you will agree. From my experience, there so often seems to be a reluctance to ride without proper tools (bike, gear, tents, etc.) and silly things like a perceived need of all-or-nothing solutions. This video perfectly points out many aspects of each choice that weighs in one direction or the other.  The conclusion the guys come to is that the “perfect bike” is probably somewhere in the middle, while my conclusion is always Run what ya Brung.

The clear illustration presented is that you can have an adventure regardless of the chosen tools, your budget, time or distance.  So the takeaway is get on your bike and ride this weekend……to somewhere new or cool, with what you have.

Motorcycle Flattrack Racing in Alabama – it’s back

Is it for real?  C’mon, this can’t be for real, unless it is a bunch of old rednecks in a


cornfield?  Dirt track racing died out in the 70’s did it not?  I picture the old-timers drifting sideways on the old Harleys and Triumphs, smacking into those old wooden fences and tumbling into the crowd.  So I always assumed it died out because all the riders died out, from crashing or old age.  Sanity prevents newer riders from engaging in this activity – right?

For the last year or so I have been hearing rumors, seeing pictures and even had a few invitations to attend some flat track events in Alabama.  Well the stars aligned Saturday – it was an amazing, cool spring day – prefect for the ride to Toney Al, to attend my FIRST ever dirttrack event at Beaver Creek Speedway.

As I roll into the gate, the kid’s cart racers are coming out, just having finished their events.  I see the bikes are already lined up under ease-ups, and it looks like a smaller version of the Barber Vintage Festival paddock, sans oil-drip-pans.  I feel I am flashing back to an earlier time.  I hear The Stones, and Led Zep playing in my head, a cloud of Turkish drifts in the air.  Then I park the bi ke, and snap back into reality.

The crowd seems very laid back, and after talking to the guy with the microphone, it seems even cooler than ever.  Just a bunch of cool guys that like to race, they are all friends, that miss the days of racing around a banked oval track.  Pat Bedford, President of Tennessee Valley Flattrackers, gave me a short history of the revival of the sport, after a decade or more of absence.  He and some friends just decided to put something back together, and made it happen.


The Vintage racers

vintage motorcycle racing in alabama

Lucky for me, we also were treated to the vintage machines with AHRMA racing on the same day.  It was great to see the modified machines, singles, twins, 4 stroke, 2-smoke, all fun to watch.  Talk about a flash back.  Even got to experienc


e legendary racer Dave Aldana show everyone how it was and is done in the hard-packed dirt.  Truly a cool experience, and a great way to spend an evening, and I highly recommend to anyone into any kind of racing.  Also a cool event if you just like bikes.

Accessible racing

One thing Pat stressed is how simple and affordable it is to get started in FT racing.  Drop the suspension, cheap road tires, and $20, and you can race too.  Besides the vintage bikes that were there, most others were dirtbike/motards that looked mostly stock – not a single $10k race bike in the mix.  In fact, he also stress


ed that it is SO affordable that even kids can race, XR100s with knobbies can run out there.  I really like the idea of accessible racing, and even better racing with your buddies.


This might also be the experience that all of our motard-crowd is looking for.  With cheap trackdays typically starting around $150, and don’t even get me started about WERA – this is accessible racing for just about everyone in the family.  Leave the GIXXER at home, pick up a cheap motard/dirtbike and get out there.  Man that looks like fun.

Want to hear a sad story without anyone dying?

Very soon after I got out of high school, I joined the USAF. I was only 17, so my mommy had to sign consent for me :). The next training class for the job I chose did not start until the following year so I was on delayed enlistment and had about 9 months to have some fun. I knew just how I wanted to do it. I had my eye on the prettiest candy-apple red, white, and blue 1984 VF750 Interceptor I had ever seen.
But I was poor as dirt and had no money. At the same time, I was going on 5 years without a bike. So, I got me a job in a medical supply company warehouse in Decatur and borrowed the money for the bike from the only person in the family that had money….good ole uncle Joe. Desperate times / Desperate measures….and so forth.



FZRatneedles_zpsdb11f9d6I rode as much as I could until the day I had to leave for basic training. Then it was off to tech school…..looonng training program. And by the time I finished the program, I had already been reading the cycle mags about Yamaha’s new attempt to compete in the “Big” sport bike market. I had already made up my mind by the time I got to Ellsworth AFB…Ima’ get me a FZR(1000….Genesis..oooh….Pure Sports….oooh oooh). The timing could not have worked out better. Uncle Sam was picking up and delivering my Interceptor. The local Yamaha dealer was due to get the FZR any day. And, before my Interceptor made it to the base, I had it sold to my best good buddy JT. I was living large on my $750.00/month and had saved up some money. And with the money from the Interceptor, plus what I had saved, I walked in the day they assembled it and laid down a whoppin’ $5400.00 cash and rode out on my brand new red, white, and blue 1987 FZR 1000.


My other buddies on base had already been talking smack about their Ninjas and GSXRs. And, while JT was putting around town and the base on his new (to him) Interceptor, I was out in the Black Hills getting acclimated to my new ride. In just a short time, I was teaching them Ninja and GSXR boys some fine lessons in humility….not that teaching lessons was the goal….it was just the inevitable playing out. The FZR was a superior machine and I was just barely lucky enough a rider to prove it. I gotta’ admit, it was a little fun to stiffle some of them cocky pie-holes. I was a Yamaha fan from 6 years old.

Within a few weeks, JT was ready to hit the Black Hills with the rest of us. We hit the Black Hills on a Saturday and burned up some twisties….waiting at every turn for JT. He was doing real good, we all thought, for his first time out on a fast ride.

Way too soon, it was time to head back home. It was a (mostly) casual ride back….but JT saw it as his chance to keep with the pack. Considering what we’d been doing all day, we didn’t think twice about it. We were so pumped up on adrenaline and young men’s (kids actually) general stupidity, we were out of the Black Hills and half way through Rapid City before we realized JT was missing.

d1427095-3793-45d0-8f40-3d4dde988bef_zpsb419a3c4Dead-gum….my heart went from Cloud 9 to hundred pound brick in about 2 seconds. There was a couple ways to get back into town so we split up. We had no idea, but JT was long on his way to the base hospital, and his beautiful candy-apple red, white, and blue Interceptor was back up in the hills at house where the folks that found him lived:

There were a few slick spots on Sheridan Lake Road and I just knew he must have went outside in one of the slippery curves….that’s where I’m headed!!!
Well, I was zippin’ back out of town, scanning side to side like a Cylon Raider, hoping to see JT in a parking lot or gas station or anything besides flat on the road. Still scanning left and right, feeling worse and worse by the minute. I looked ahead just in time to see two cars racing to the left turn signal (one already in the turn lane and one in my lane) then the loser of the race stop full in the road right in front of me. Holy crap!!! I’ll never stop that quick. I locked the rear and made my way to the ground….as I had done previously on many a dirt bike rides. I slid a short distance and tried to stand up….but I was still sliding and my shoes got good traction….and boy did I do a hard forward faceplant. Had a dang good helmet (even if it was a BMW flip-up). It held together fine and I got right back up…just lightly rattled. The FZR continued to slide on its shiny (realatively) new plastic, all the way underneath the stupid punk car. I was a stupid punk too so I’m not uncomfortable saying it like that.


FZR_wrecked2_zps5a3ca078All things considered, it could have easily been a lot worse. Just paint, stickers, and plastic. No frame damage at all…the FZR was just about perfectly parallel with the back end of the car when it impacted.

But what about JT….we still didn’t know. Well, the Po-Po that came to my crash told us he heard about JT and that he was OK and probably back at Ellsworth by now. Busted leg and maybe a crack in the sternum.

We were jubilant with relief. Eventually, the whole gang got caught up again and everyone was OK and happy that JT was not dead. We were no less stupid than when it all started and thought it would be cool to sneak in a get well soon present to our fallen pal.


I think JT learned the most that day, although we never called it “Ride Your Own Ride”….we all kinda’ absorbed the spirit of that message and toned it down a little. And the competitiveness evolved more into who could sneak up and hit the other guy’s kill switch more than who could get to the waterfall at the end of Spearfish Canyon first. I used that old Beemer helmet as a teaching aid later on….it was eat up pretty good with road rash. There was no helmet law in SD and whenever a new riding buddy came along that was too cool to wear a helmet, I’d eventually drag it out and show ‘em. Most of the time it worked. –By kdtrull


Yep, I really did run someone over with a motorcycle.

As some of you know, I was sort-of a police officer for a few years (15+ actually). I was a precocious little snot in my career…a surprise to some of you, I know. I wrecked 7 police cars and 1 police motorcycle…totaling 2 of the cars and the motor. One time, I managed to put the lights out in a fair-sized city, total a police car, total another car, AND set a building on fire all in about 5 seconds. One year, I nearly snatched an Alabama Army National Guard helicopter out of the sky during a marihuana eradication program, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the bird and nearly got the program summarily cancelled nationwide…and those are just the beginnings of the highlight reels.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that I was rather assertive in my policing style and I was used as a counter-balance to the overly ‘Officer Friendly’ types. The trick was figuring out the balance and knowing when Officer Friendly was the right officer to send, or when it was time to send in the cavalry on a slash-n-burn campaign when the bad guys didn’t get the message or thought they had figured-out the system. It was one of the latter assignments were I really did run-over a guy with a motorcycle.


In the late 1980s, some of our citizens thought it a grand idea to shoot ‘craps’ against the curbs in the street-side parking bays within one of our many government-assisted housing ‘projects’. We Officers knew these were nickel, dime and quarter games…solidly in no-harm/no-foul territory and as long as the folk showed enough respect to at least get off their knee as we patrolled by, we would conspicuously ignore them and go about our business so they could get back to theirs.

Unfortunately, our least civilized project straddled one of the major streets that all of the self-declared Pretty-People who lived up on “the Mountain” used as a short-cut going to-n-fro between their homes and downtown. Being ‘Pretty People’ they didn’t understand that a casual game of pick-up craps was not the final sign of the Apocalypse, and even if it was, we had it under control. One thing they DID know was that we had NO problem arresting them and their kids for any of numerous violations ranging from DUI to pederasty, and …well…that just wasn’t ‘fair’ in their view of things so they complained to the Powers.

In any conflict between the Pretty People and the Little Folk, the Powers always align themselves with who they believe themselves to be…the Pretty People. Sure enough, it weren’t long before orders came down from the Powers to their resident “fixer”: ‘Sgt Nessler, make it stop.’. One of the qualities of being a good ‘fixer’ is being able to discern the true intent of the Powers without having to ask inconvenient questions. I knew that I wasn’t being told to make the Little Folk stop shooting craps against the curbs…that would be potentially inconvenient should the Little Folk complain to, say, the ACLU, NAACP, or the wrong Justice Department. What I WAS being told was to make the Pretty People stop complaining to the Powers about the Little People shooting craps against the curbs. That is a subtle but significant difference and being able to discern that difference is what made me such a good ‘Fixer of Inconvenient Things’.

My plan was simple, get a couple of my trusted tac team members in on the act and gently nudge the games off the main street and onto the side-streets where the Pretty People would NEVER go (unless they were picking up a ‘friend’ for a ‘date’ based on a to-be-negotiated cash transaction or they were craving their favorite illicit narcotic du’jour). Our negative reinforcement for the relocation program was simply seizing the money in the pot, which we would immediately and gleefully redistribute to the kids in the area. That way, we were achieving the goal, making lots of new friends, plus even the players knew we weren’t pocketing their meager amounts of money (which they would have believed if we went ‘by the book’ and turned the ‘abandoned property’ into the property room).

Two or three times a day, if I wasn’t already on one of our PD motors I’d go get one and meet my teammates near the targeted project. We were on some of the first mid-80‘s Honda Gold Wing Police-specific bikes. They were naked, except for a clear plexi-windshield, A MONSTER round headlight, and we hacked some of the saddlebags off of our old H-Ds onto them to hold our crap when we rode them. We were offered the opportunity to run the bikes for a couple of years as a test PD and jumped at the chance. We didn’t even have enough stickers, logos, and radios to befarkle all of them and the one I usually used was, basically, an unmarked bike and I could roll right up on just about anyone. We usually called it the ‘sneaker bike’, and it was good for just that.

On the day of all days, I had gone to get the sneaker bike, met my partners, rolled into the projects and sure enough, there was a game right where it didn’t need to be. I eased along, knowing that in just a few moments they’d figure out what I was up to, run, and I’d just roll-up get the money and hand it out to the kids who’d always gather around (they knew how it worked and were always close by when we grabbed a pot).

Except, they were REALLY focused on the game and weren’t looking around…

As I rolled closer, I could see that there was something odd about the pot…there were bills in it and I had NEVER seen that before! Closer yet and I still hadn’t been seen so I double-clicked my lapel-mic, the signal for my back-up to come-on-in. Closer…still not seen…LOTS of bills on the ground…lots of folk in the game…interesting…

I picked my opening and slowly turned off the road just as the player rolls the dice. As everyone in the game focuses on the numbers, I slip my front wheel between two gamers and stop with the pot trapped under my front wheel…and all hell breaks loose when someone screams ‘FIVE OH!-FIVE OH!-FIVE OH!”

Those that are already standing run-off in different directions, those on their knees scramble to get on their feet, grabbing and pulling on each other to get moving. In the scrimmage, a couple of them end up rolling-around on the ground trying to figure-out which way to go, and I see the guy that had rolled the dice grab them and run off-toward my left, which was in the direction I was facing.

For some reason he’s looking back at me and I’m looking right at his face so I can ID and grab him later when we both notice the $20 bill falling out of the sky like a leaf between us. First, I was awestruck…I didn’t know there was a $20 bill anywhere in those projects…but here it was! Everyone else had run away but Dice Guy and he had stopped, watching the $20 fall to the ground. When it hit the ground, I looked back up to see where he was, only then realizing he had stopped running away. Then I saw that smile spread across his face…

He had realized what I already knew…I was stuck on the motorcycle and he could make a grab at the pot and go before I could even flinch…and that is EXACTLY what the SOB did!

WHOOSH! he reached down and WHOOSH! He was headed away again and all I saw was a HUGE wad of bills in his hand as he ran off laughing…right up the sidewalk…in the direction I was already pointed.

‘F’k that, You F’king, F’ker’ I remember thinking as I eased-out the clutch, bumped the curb, and headed down the sidewalk after him. He had a little distance on me, but the way was clear between us so I gassed it a little. I knew my back-up was rolling in behind me and would follow me to the fun but I wanted one of them to stay with the pot…there was still plenty of cash in it…and I reached for my mic clipped to my uniform.

Police lapel-mics are not meant for use on a moving motorcycle and you have to get your mouth as close as you can to the mic to be heard. To do that, you develop a habit of turning your head to toward the mic (for me that was to my right) and leaning down toward the mic as far as you can while you pull the mic as far up as you can.  Well, when I did that, the little sunshade on the half-helmets we wore would block my peripheral vision to the front. In 99 & 44/100ths percent of the time, not a problem…but this wasn’t one of those times.

Unbeknownst to me, Dice Guy had realized the futility of his actions and he decided to surrender…which he did by stopping, turning to face me, and standing spread-eagle in the middle of the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, I did not know he had done that soonly enough…

Something caught my eye to the front and I looked-up just in time to see my front wheel passing between his spread legs…and….it…..all……slowed…….way……..way………down.

Somehow I got my left hand off my mic, back on the bar, and clamped-down on the bars and with my knees against the tank just as that monster headlight hit him right in the belly. The momentum of the bike drove his midsection backward while his legs and arms extended straight toward the back of the bike along each side of the shield as the air just blasted out of him in a loud ‘HUUUUuuuuuuhhhhhh’.

I saw that his face had planted hard against the center of the plexi-windscreen and was turned to my left side. His mouth was open and something pink had spritzed across the screen…then there was his eye…

It was plastered flat against the upper part of the screen…right in the center…looking like a big, flat fish-eye…and it was staring right at me! I’m here to tell you…that freaked me out a little!

I grabbed the brakes and he began to peel-off the front of the bike…almost like he was sitting on the front fender and was slowly falling over backwards…but the bike began to wiggle a little (I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on some sand that was on the sidewalk, probably from rain run-off). I could see that he was still peeling-off the front of the bike, falling away faster than I was going, but I instinctively released the brakes to regain control of the bike.

Just as I let go of the brakes, he landed on the sidewalk…HARD! It seemed like I could feel his head hit the concrete and he skidded a little ways before he stopped.

Then it got bad…

He was still spread-eagle, lying on his back on the sidewalk, the wide end of the “V” of his legs toward me with his head away from me.

By that point it had devolved into the surreal and I was just along for the ride…

The bike was still moving forward at a fair speed and from the wiggles, it was slightly leaning and turning to the left as it rolled between his legs again. The front tire rolled up the inside of his right leg, forcing the front of the bike to the right. The front tire rolled across the top of his right thigh, tracked to the right of his crotch, across his abdomen from his right-to-left, to where it dropped off his left shoulder about halfway between his head and point of his shoulder.

The rear tire rolled up high on the inside of his left thigh, bursting his thigh with a loud “POP!”, then it tracked across his hips, abdomen and chest angled slightly from his left-to-right. His face was turned to his right and the rear tire tracked across the left side of his face, leaving an imprint of the tire tread in the skin on his forehead (that lasted for several days) before it dropped off his head back onto the sidewalk.

Once back on solid ground, I was able to get the bike stopped pretty quickly and all I could do was sit there trying to figure-out what had just happened. In no time, the screech of tires, people running, kids screaming, high-pitched radio calls for the fire medics snapped me back to reality.

Yeah…it really happened…I had just run over a man with a motorcycle…and the world saw me do it.

The medics were there in just a few moments and they were working on him furiously. I knew there was a lot of concern about his left thigh. From prior training and a previous incident I was involved in, I knew there were a large artery and vein in there and that if either of those were ruptured it’d be difficult for him to survive.

I’d worked on him a little before the medics arrived and believed that both were intact…I kept trying to tell the medics if they’d just look they were right there and they could see they were fine (I was being more wishful than knowing, but I could tell from the amount of blood on the ground that as bad as it looked, he still had plenty in him). They finally bundled him up and got him on the road to the ER just in as my command staff started arriving.

In the whirlwind of Very Important People Trying to Appear Important, I ended up stuffed in the rear seat of a marked unit and unceremoniously sent-off to the hospital for the blood alcohol and drug screenings I had requested. I ended-up in the station next to the Dice Guy…both fortunately and unfortunately. Fortunately because I learned that, other than the thigh, he was remarkably uninjured and the thigh, while gruesome looking, was still pretty intact and could probably be repaired with minimal risk of extended impairment. Unfortunate because it was rather disheartening to hear people say how truly and sincerely screwed I was…as in, please tell me something I DIDN’T know already!

…and that, as weaving and drifting a story as it is, is how I ran-over someone with a motorcycle to the best of my recollection and memory.

When I share this story, people usually have two basic questions: “What happened to him?” and “What happened to you?”

He recovered fine. Last I knew he is alive & well, and STILL living in the same projects but that has been many years ago. He has some nasty-looking scarring on the inside of his thigh but suffered no particular impairment despite being run-over by a solid half-ton of motorcycle and me. While he could have easily sued for a gabazillion dollars and certainly have received some substantial money, he never did. After the statutory period to initiate a suit passed we spoke about it and he said that he realized that he was wrong and he knew I would never have done anything like that on purpose.

I was both in a predicament and was A predicament for the City.

Yeah, accidents happen and people that don’t deserve to get hurt, do…but the ‘optics’ of it were bad for me (if it hasn’t been accurately inferred, he was black and I am obviously not), Crack cocaine was really hammering the black community in our city hard and we…as a PD and as a Tac Team I was the Commander of…were pounding the dealers harder. Sometimes our tactics were harsh and I was one of the ‘faces’ of those tactics. I was honestly concerned that I’d be sold for scrap just as an example. Fortunately, I discovered I had some very surprising friends within the black community and the few people that barked were silenced pretty quickly from within.

From the City’s perspective, there was always the innate motivation to ‘do something’ when the optics are as they were, but their predicament was whatever they did would, for all intents and purposes, be seen as admitting culpability and risk opening-up the city treasury to the victim’s cash vacuum (in a cost-saving measure, the City had self-insured and would be completely exposed in case of a lawsuit). So, as many large organizations are prone to, they found themselves with a self-inflicted case of ‘analysis induced paralysis’ until it was too late to act against me without appearing to be acting in an unnecessarily retaliatory manner, thereby handing ME the cash vacuum (and they KNEW very well what I’d do with it).

I worked for that PD a few more years and I’d see the Dice Guy regularly. The standing joke between us when he’d show his ass while drinking was that I’d tell him to go inside or I’d run him over again…and in he’d go without another peep. I will admit that he got special consideration from me and there were many, many times he may should have gone to jail for Public Intoxication. Instead, he and I walked back to his place, me carrying him more than him walking, and his family would come-out to get him and they were always gracious and thankful.  I just figured he had earned that privilege the hard way.

Michael J. Nessler

The Double-Yellow Lesson

After riding last week with some new guys, and watching some common mistakes witnessed on some of the tight, twisty roads we were enjoying, I started wondering – Why are these guys making the same mistakes, over and over? – The answer seemed clear after some thought, and I wished I would have had the chance to share my thoughts with them.  Sadly, I only knew one of the group, and the first day of riding was not that bad, the pace was brisk and the mistakes were few.  Day two allowed me to witness guys in front and in back of me running wide in turns, crossing double-yellows, and in one instance, the rider behind me not only crossed WAY over into the oncoming lane several times, but he missed the turn so bad once he almost left the road.
It came to the point where I almost did not even want to look in my mirrors anymore, terrified of what I might see.  Not sure if any of the other riders addressed the issue, as I am sure at least one of the other riders was following, just not sure what he witnessed.  The next stop is where I said my goodbyes, and headed away from the group – back home.  Now I regret not saying what I should have said then to this rider, and a few others……….

If you are crossing the double-yellow, you are riding beyond your skill level.

You should slow down, or even pull over and assess what is going, what happened, why you misjudged the turn, and what could have happened had you met oncoming traffic.  The most shocking thing was not that this rider made a mistake, we all make them.  Small mistakes where we have lots of margin for error (we are half the size of a car, or smaller, after all) are forgivable on occasion.  Bad lines in the curves, braking too late or too soon, bad throttle control, not paying attention etc., we can all get away with for awhile.  We all make mistakes that hopefully we adjust from, but this one guy was consistently making the same mistake, and seemed like he had no idea how bad his skills, judgment, assessment and everything was that day.  I knew it, and probably should have pulled over, and had a discussion with him about it.  But why did he continue?  Running over the line in ever 3rd or 4th turn?  It was just hard to believe.
On the way home it hit me – there were no consequences – I don’t remember passing a single car coming the other way on 209 – all the way to Hot Springs.  So there was nothing to worry about, we had 2 lanes all to ourselves.  But these roads were SOOoo.. curvy – how could you possibly know if anyone was coming?  He did not – evidence the time he almost left the road completely.  Well the thoughts never left my head, and I was determined to share my story, not to be hollier-than-thou-look-what-a-better-rider-I-am – but to share a bit of insight I should have shared then.

If you cannot keep your vehicle in your lane, you should pull over and think about WHY – before you hurt someone or yourself.

It is a really easy thing to keep in mind, in fact, if my tires even hit paint, sirens go off in my head, I just wonder why they do not go off in other heads?

So I hope this experience helps turn your sirens on when your tires hit the paint – slow down, or pull over and re-assess, figure out why you are riding over your head.

Before you wind up like this guy, who is about to ruin the nice couple’s day: