Last week we had a rider low-side at YCRS in a harmless but moderately expensive crash. Two months ago, a racing organization had one of the worst crashes in its 30-year history. Both happened after the checkered flag.
At the school, a 19-year-old rider with a Formula 2000 car-racing background was having the time of his life on our 2017 Yamaha R6. He was riding quick and clean, full GP body, great use of brakes, really doing a fantastic job. The checkered flag flew to end the 30-minute open-lapping session on day two and seven corners later he low-sided into the gravel.
At the racing club, the checkered flag flew to end the race and one of the participants crashed in turn one, the corner following the finish line.
I have more examples from associations as lofty as MotoAmerica and World Superbike, but the two examples cited above are close to home and recent. A good friend is deeply involved with the racing organization and any time a student crashes, I take it personally. I want to fix the issue for my students and my friend’s racing club… and my readers. In both cases, the riders saw the flag and unplugged their focus.
But let’s say you aren’t racing and have no plans to attend YCRS or a trackday. Why would you continue to read this column?
Have you heard the statistic that warns us that many traffic accidents happen close to home? Perhaps your ride along the river road is the main reason you go out on a Saturday morning. As you get done with that ride, you re-enter your hometown or neighborhood and the main reason for your ride is over. Your checkered flag flies. Like the student and racer referred to above, your focus drops because you passed the finish line, your ride is practically over, you’re almost back home.
Almost back home on a street ride is like the checkered flag during a trackday or race: You still have the cool-off lap and negotiating your neighborhood to survive. When your bike rolls back into your pit or garage or carport or parking space and stops, your focus can relent. Think about it now; put it into play on your next track day, race, street ride, or car/truck drive. Stay relentlessly focused until your vehicle stops moving.
*There’s a postscript to this story that has nothing to do with focus, but furthers my belief that motorcycle people are the best people. The kid who crashed our R6 was distraught and frustrated. He had just landed a job as a car technician and had saved his money to attend YCRS. Crashing a school bike is less expensive than crashing your own bike (thanks to Yamaha parts costs and our low hourly labor charge), but it’s still money. He was 19, employed, humble, polite…but not rich.
Sissy came to the second day to watch her husband Ben ride. She witnessed the crash and the 19-year-old’s turmoil. She quietly walked up to YCRS’s Keith Culver and paid the kid’s repair bill, even though they had never met until that morning. This generosity really affected all the instructors. It was such an amazing move, truly the definition of “angel.” The kid told Sissy that her generosity would allow him to stay involved in the sport, rather than have to sell his own bike. He was also determined to pay it forward when he grew into a position to help others. Two-wheeled people impressing me again.