Riding out of Moni, upset, distracted, just getting the hell out of town.

A set of beautiful asphalt s-bends. Badly cambered. Thin layer of sand across the road.

I’m doing about 45 or 50km/h but should be doing about thirty. As I lean the bike gently to follow the bend in the road, I feel the rear start to slide out.

I’ve got my weight forward and centred over the front wheel to compensate for poor traction, so I’m not leaning with the bike when she starts to go down. Instead, my body position is vertical. As the world thickens and slows, I’m still balanced and upright as the rear slides out and gravity kicks in. I ride the bike down, all the way to the bitumen; now the bike’s down on her right side, sliding ahead of me, the sandy road surface slippery as glass. I’m kneeling on one knee – right knee down, right hand out for balance – and we’re sliding, sliding. There’s no traction, we just keep going down the road, Beastie and I, sliding endlessly on the gritty bitumen.

Then we stop. I’m still kneeling on one knee. We’re at least forty metres from where we hit the road.

There are no trucks coming, no traffic. I’m safe. I jump back onto my feet, take one step to Beastie, hit the kill switch, turn off the ignition.

Take a deep breath. There are people around now; half a dozen locals who have just watched me sliding down the road. They are looking at me, looking at the bike, waiting to see the blood. There is none. I’m wearing kevlar draggin jeans, leatt knee guards, sidi adventure boots up to my knees; leather klim gloves with carbon knuckles, lightly scraped now from the road.

They’re used to seeing people slide down the road; not used to seeing them get up again without blood, road rash and grief.

I just want to get the bike upright and off the road; three men help me lift her, we put her on her sidestand. We’ve slid so far, in a gentle curve, that the bike is now facing the opposite direction.

I look for damage. Barkbuster, scraped; safari tank, scraped. The plastic rear bobbin is half scraped away, too.


This kid is channeling my mood.

My right pannier is damaged. I’m a moron: I’m carrying a spare rear sprocket, and that morning I hadn’t packed it properly on the inside of the pannier. Instead, it was near the bottom of the pannier and the teeth of the sprocket have scraped through the canvas as we slid along the road, leaving a gash in the pannier fabric like the bite of a shark.


Fuck. I’m sorry, Harold, I think. My pretty, pretty Giant Loop panniers, fucked up through my own stupidity. If I’d packed the sprocket differently, everything would have been fine.

I test the pannier. The holes through the orange canvass are small, lining up with the tips of the sprocket teeth. The gash through the fabric flap on the outside – the flap that holds the bottom of the three quick release straps – is more badly gashed. But, the straps are still strong. The strength and structural integrity of the pannier doesn’t seem to be compromised.

Fuck, I say to myself again, feeling slightly sick.

The locals are trying to straighten my rear brake lever now, and I have to tell them to stop stop stop, because it’s aluminium and I’d rather have it bent than snapped. It wasn’t damaged in the crash anyway. It’s been like that for 25,000km, since being kissed by a rock on a dirt track in southern Queensland.

They desist. Now everyone’s looking for my injuries again. There are none, I assure them. I let the old men poke my knee so they can feel the knee guards under the kevlar. The denim of my draggin jeans has been ripped through, down to the kevlar, so there goes my only nice pair of jeans. Now, I have no decent looking clothes and will just have to hang out in the gutter with my motorbike, like the hobo I am.



Seriously, though, my gear has saved me. Sliding down the road on my knee for forty metres: without kevlar and knee guards, I have no doubt that I’d been sitting beside the road looking at the bone of my kneecap right now.

But I’m not.

I get back on my bike, and ride away.

* * *

Where the fuck am I going?

I’m not sure anymore. I’m just glad to be alive, glad my bike is okay.

I’m not thinking straight; I feel woozy. I stop beside the road; well, actually, I slightly run off the edge of the road by accident, then pretend I meant to do it. I stop in the grass.

A guy on a scooter goes past me, waves and smiles. He was one of the people who helped me pick up my bike off the road, forty kilometres back. Bless him. I wave back.

I come to a turn off for a place called Koko Beach, it’s supposed to be beautiful. There’s a guy with a bamboo boom gate, wants ten thousand rupiah to let me in. Okay, fine, I pay. I get down to the beach, there’s another boom gate, another guy wants me to pay him too.

I tell him I’ve already paid. I tell him I wouldn’t have paid the first time if I knew I’d have to pay again. He argues. I argue. He gives up. I don’t know, I’m not in a friendly mood. The beach is indeed beautiful, white sand amoung cliffs, reminiscent of Thailand and that movie with Leonardo DiCaprio in it. There are a bunch of Europeans on the beach – some Scandinavian, some German – they say they’re running a landscape photography workshop. There are two women with them, scantily clad. One is only wearing a g-string.

I feel mortified and kind of offended on behalf of the locals who have come here with their families to picnic on the beach. It’s pretty pornographic. The white guys are fawning over this chick in her g-string, slathered in coconut oil like sexy saveloy.

I get on my bike and leave again.

The road is beautiful, but I’m not having a good day. My fuel light comes on so I stop to buy fuel from some sleepy girls, napping in a shade shelter beside glass bottles of petrol. While they fill up, I see a sign on the house, directly across the road: Inna’s Homestay.

I walk across to it on impulse. The verandah is shady. On the other side of the house is the sand of the beach.

I meet Inna and she’s lovely, her place is lovely, but it turns out I can’t afford it. There is, however, a very small room, no ensuite, mattress on the floor; Inna will rent that to me for less. I accept. I need to stop, get my head straight. I wheel the bike across the road, into her courtyard, and park.

I am in the village of Paga.

0 thoughts on “Damage Report

  1. geoffkeys says:

    Not that you need telling Grace, but good gear is always worth having. I’m very pleased you and Beastie are OK.

    1. Yeah, good gear for me and barkbusters for Beastie! actually those barkbusters were the first thing I ever bought for Beastie – the day after I got her, I was riding back to Sydney from Queensland and I stopped in Lismore and dropped $100 on those guards. Best investment I ever made.

  2. Jeff says:

    Hi Grace,

    Glad you are ok. Like I said in a post to you ages ago, you inspired me to buy my old XR650R and do her up for long haul adventure rides. First ride I had a low speed off and my gear saved me and my bike in the middle of nowhere. I’m off to check out knee guards as it’s been a point of concern for me ever since. Thanks for teaching me and inspiring me yet again.

    I’m glad your ok and your gear is doing its job. Relax, rest up and keep going! You’re a legend in my eyes.

    1. Cheers Jeff! The old XRs are so cool, I bet she took that tumble well. Glad to hear that your gear saved you and all was well! Yeah, I’m such a fan of wearing good gear; for sure, motorcycling is dangerous, but road rash and flesh wounds are often unnecessary. Knee guards are so good; not only do they protect your knees but it also means that if you do come off, you’ve got more options about how you’re going to fall. If I hadn’t been wearing knee guards the other day, it would have been very inadvisable to slide along the road up on one knee; but because I was wearing armour, it was no problem and it meant that I was able to keep my head up and looking down the road to see if there was a truck coming to run me over. If a vehicle had been approaching, I would have seen it and had at least some chance of rolling out of the way… that was my thinking anyway… #idoallmyownstunts hahaha. The knee guards that I use are called Leatt Airflex Pro and they’re actually a soft knee guard, which makes them very comfortable to wear. I wear a Klim cooling underlayer – sort of leggings – then put the knee guards over the top of those, then wear my Klim pants or kevlar jeans over everything. Having the underlayer means that you don’t get any chafing or sweaty discomfort, which is important because the knee guards sit snugly (so that they stay exactly where they need to be as you slide down the road). I prefer them to your usual garden variety CE approved orange armour pieces that comes in the knees of many riding pants – sometimes I find that stuff too rigid, and that it presses on my kneecap causing discomfort after a long day (although this is also a question of how well your pants fit, I think). Also, depending on how loose your pants are, that kind of integrated armour can move in the event of an accident, which is no help at all. Anyway, I don’t have any experience using some of the external knee/shin guards that you can get, but they could be great too; I imagine they probably provide much superior protection than the soft ones that I’m using, and probably more suitable for real off road antics. For me, though, a major virtue of the knee guards that I use is that they’re comfortable, because I reckon if your gear is not comfortable you’ll find reasons not to wear it. Happy gear shopping!!

  3. Geoff Shaw says:

    Hi Grace,
    Glad you’re OK, and the bike!
    Hope you are allright in the midst of the earthquake, doesn’t look like you are on an affected island?
    Hang in there with the good and the bad, including people. So far I think I’ve found the good outweigh the bad!
    If you send me your Draggin jeans size my wife and I will send a new pair, if we can come up with somewhere to freight/post them to?
    Good gear is good stuff

    Geoff & Kate

    1. Thanks Geoff! Yep, all good. Beastie and I are both pretty hard to kill. I’m very fortunate not to be in an area affected by the earthquake but I certainly feel for everyone who is. Most Indonesian buildings are not exactly earthquake rated.

      Still hanging in here, all part of the adventure. It’s the bad stuff you learn from, anyway. Never learnt much from a resort holiday…. 🙂

      It’s incredibly nice of you to offer to hook me up with new Draggins. You really don’t have to though, they’re not so cheap. (I can always just go around looking hoboesque, you know, truth in advertising and all that!!) 😀 If you do feel so inclined, I’m an Australian ladies size 8 in the DRIFT cut (I seem to be the wrong shape to fit the other styles). My best mate is flying to Asia next month so he can mule goodies to me from Australia if you mail them to PO Box 6264, UNSW Sydney, NSW 1466. It’s incredibly kind of you both – thank you.

  4. James says:

    Dress for the Fall.

    That’s what I always told my MSF students when I was a RiderCoach.

    Your story at this point is yet another example of why everyone should gear up. Assumed risk. Glad you were ok after that low-side.

    1. BikeHedonia says:

      It’s good advice, I hope lots of them took it! Yes, my gear has saved me in many a misadventure. I’m most grateful.

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