Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I Fear Most Driving a Motorcycle

In all the years I’ve been riding motorcycles, my biggest fear has always been high-speed mechanical breakdown. I’ve got faith in my abilities as a driver; I know how to stay out of trouble on the road.  The road itself is sometimes a concern, particularly when driving on one you’ve never traveled down before. Other drivers, gotta look out for them.  Of all these possible hazards the one that strikes fear in my heart is having something go wrong with the motorcycle itself while I am cruising at high speed. 

That happened this last weekend on my trip to Southeast Thailand.  As I mentioned in the previous blog, I had gotten my bike tuned up and repaired in Pattaya, and as I headed south out of town Sunday morning, I was really impressed with how well it was running.  Out in the countryside, there wasn’t much traffic, so I really opened her up, at least as much as one can open up on a 110 cc motorcycle.

I was cruising along at about 100 kph (60 mph) for a good 15 minutes uninterrupted.  I was running at about 95% throttle, and the little engine was whirring away happily.  Or so I thought.

Coming to the top of a small hill, the engine freezes up.  Piston stuck.  After a sudden slowdown, and a really sad sound from the motor, the wheels lock.  I’m still going at about 80 kph at this point in a controlled skid.  Oh shit.  The tires screech.  My heart skips a beat.  It occurs to me quickly that my bike is toast and worse yet, I am probably about to crash.  The front wheel wobbles a bit despite me trying to hold it straight the best I can.

Then, the engine pops back into gear.  The piston unfreezes and I’m rolling along in 4th gear like nothing ever happened.   

Really dodged a bullet there.

As you might imagine, I continued my journey to Rayong at a much slower pace.  As soon as I could find a place, I pulled over, had an iced coffee and let the bike cool down.   

A couple days later on my return drive to Bangkok, I took my time, rarely taking the bike over 70 kph.

As for my time in Rayong, my friend wasn’t too keen on the video idea, so I got nothing from there.  Suffice to say, I had an interesting time.
I did get some great footage at a place on the road between Pattaya and Rayong.  It’s called the Nongnooch Tropical Botanical Gardens.  Yes, a tiger cub is as soft and cuddly as you might imagine. 

As some of you know, Merikay used to make whimsical animal sculptures as her job; I think she would enjoy Nongnooch. 


  1. My biggest worry about you driving a motor cycle is that you will crash and get hurt. But life goes on and we all take risks. It is far better to be doing something you enjoy than sitting at home thinking about it.

    Our dreams are coming closer too. I fear a high speed RV crash or a nighttime fire, but that won't keep us from doing it.

  2. Dad and I just looked at the video. Great place! Yes I would love to see it someday. I usually look for your posts first thing in the morning when I am still in bed. Blogs are better than the newspaper any day. Dad uses the laptop and I use the iPad. I often cannot see a video, I just get a large blank black space, but do see them later when I am on the laptop for my evening read.

  3. Advice from a 30+ year biker, BIG bikes, that is 67. Go buy a NEW bike. Don't ever buy someone elses problems.


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