I’ve mentioned a few times that PowerSportsFactory has given us a Benelli/Andretti 150XT for a long-term test. I also bought a used Blur around the same time to replace the one stolen at the MotoGP race in Indianapolis, and thanks to a few minor snafus in both transactions, a busy schedule, and a little bad luck, I finally obtained plates and titles for both bikes yesterday. Yesterday it was 46°F and sunny, probably the last decent riding day we’ll see until Spring in Chicago, so it would have made sense to pick up the Andretti that’s been blocking a hallway inside my office for weeks now. But what fun is that? I decided to ride it home in the 34° sleet today instead.
After bolting on the license plate, mirrors, and windscreen and checking the fluids and cables and such, I wheeled the bike out the freight elevator and hit the electric start. Apparently it wasn’t happy I’d ignored it so long, and didn’t want to idle even once I got it started, but Vina and Mina were waiting in the 2sb urban assault vehicle, and I wanted to get it home where I had better tools and a dry, well-lit garage to look it over.
The bike was handling well and accelerating nicely on the familiar roads of my daily commute, but obviously I was taking it easy because the weather was dismal. Then, about 2/3rds of the 10-mile trip home, I made a left turn and found myself lying on my back in the middle of the street, listening to the bike sliding away from me.
Vina, who was following me in the car, she said I lost traction when my rear tire hit a wet frozen manhole cover just as I was accellerating out of the turn.
I’ve dropped bikes a couple times, and as always, it happened so fast that there was no time to react. You have no idea what’s happening, yet once you’ve entirely lost control, things happen in surreal slow motion, and you remember strange details. One moment everything’s normal, the next, you just see sky in your visor and you’re just waiting to see what part of you hits the ground first.
I landed on my left side, with most of my weight on my elbow and hip. I was wearing an armored jacket, a full-face helmet, boots, winter gauntlets, leather boots, and jeans with thermals and pajama bottoms underneath. I don’t think my head ever hit the ground. I felt no pain other than my left lower abdomen, which hurt pretty badly. I ended up on my back with both feet on the ground, holding my butt in the air, for some reason afraid to put my butt on the ground. I was already feeling pretty serious pain in my left abdomen, but felt OK otherwise. Head pain? Nope. Breathing? Check. Arms? Working. Toes? All attached and working. Eventually, as faces started to look down at me through my visor, I lowered my butt to the ground, determined that my coccyx was intact, and decided that there was nothing critically wrong with me. I saw Vina and told her I was OK, and asked her to hit the killswitch on the bike.
I almost feel like the abdominal injury happened before impact, either because I involuntarily tensed up before I hit the ground, or because the bike whipped me in that direction so abruptly. In any case, my rib cage didn’t hit the ground, it would have been the force of my arm crushing it. Armor can (and in this case, almost certainly did) keep elbows from shattering, but it’s not going to absorb the full force of impact, even in a very low-speed solo accident like this.
I knew the bottom half of my body was OK, and I just really wanted to get on my feet, so a few pedestrians and Vina helped me to my feet just as two police cars arrived. A couple minutes later, a fire truck came too. By the time I was up, someone had picked up the bike and had it on the stand next to the curb. Amazingly, aside from a very minor scratch on the lower left fairing, it took no damage, which is amazing. The greasy slush must have lubricated its five-or-ten-foot slide.
Just to be clear, the bike played no part in the accident, it was a dumb choice to ride any bike, let alone an unfamiliar bike, in that weather and I should have taken the time to dial in the idle perfectly before riding it, I was thinking too much about keeping the bike idling and not thinking enough about safe riding.
The paramedics looked me over, but at that point, I felt allright and I just wanted to get the bike home. They gave me some treatment tips and warned me about possible complications. By the time I got home, I was in a lot more pain, and after a long nap, it’s hurting pretty badly, but it’s stable. I can’t take narcotics, they make me cry during Gilligan’s Island, so I’m doing OK with Tylenol and alternating heat and cold. I’m breathing fine (though I have a cold, so sneezing and coughing are not pretty.)
I’m really happy it wasn’t worse, and that I was wearing good gear. I’m especially happy that the bike wasn’t damaged. I’ve been staring at it for weeks waiting to ride it. I let impatience get the best of me, but luckily I’ll have plenty more chances to put it through its paces.
The worst part of the incident was seeing Mina crying in her car seat worrying about me. When she saw me walking towards her, she stopped crying and smiled one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen. I told her I was OK and she didn’t have to worry, and she put a big lip gloss smudge on my helmet that I will never wash off.
I’ve been riding a lot less since I’ve been a parent, partially because of the logistics, but also because when you’re responsible for the well-being of a child, you have to re-assess your risky behavior and let’s face it, motorcycle and scooter riding is risky. Seeing that girl crying and worrying about me is going to make it hard to get back on a scooter, but hopefully I’ll learn from this and make better decisions and stay that much more focused on safety and responsibility. Riding is great, but it’s not more important to me than Vina and Mina.
Sorry for that melodramatic turn there, sorry that I don’t have any photos in this long, long post, and sorry my first report on the Benelli Andretti 150XT includes just about nothing about the bike itself. It was a fun ride, even with the cruddy weather, until the crashy part. Hopefully the next time I ride it–which may not be until spring, damn you Chicago–yields some more useful information about the scooter itself. Thanks again to Steve and PSF for the bike, sorry I haven’t been able to talk about it more and that my first report isn’t quite going to send anyone running to their local Benelli dealer.
And (duh) thanks to Vina and Mina for putting up with me, helping me sit up and lay down, and making me soup and cookies.