CRASHING is not fun.
By Matt Cuddy
CRASHING is not fun.
After a long hiatus from superhunky.com, I had time to think about my past, and what a big mess it was. I have lived on two wheels most of my life, be it on bicycles, mini-bikes, horribly unreliable small European motorcycles and anvil like Yamaha dirt bikes.
Now between all these times I exhibited a penchant for eating it. Big. Taking showers covered in dry cleaner bags and duct tape seemed to be the normal way of living. Also rubbing huge scabs on manila folders at work made all the women folk go “Eewu” so I stopped that.
Anything that could go wrong went wrong, like when I was home on leave after boot camp, I dusted off my Peugeot ten speed, and decided to make a 10th gear speed run around Silverlake reservoir. On the big right hander, my foot slipped out of the right side rat trap pedal, and I high-sided into the concrete. I became the human scab. I even had a scabs on my chin. Out came the dry cleaner bags, and the duct tape. The scabs started dropping off when I got to New Jersey and parachute rigger school a month later.
Now for some reason bicycle crashes on the street are way worse than motorcycle crashes. I guess shorts and a t shirt on a ten speed is acceptable, but when Motorcycling, boots, heavy denim armored pants, an armored jacket and an expensive Arai helmet make crashing on the concrete acceptable, and with little loss of time in the hospital, and no scabs. You can see the difference.
Crashes on the dirt are acceptable, as long as there are no jagged rocks, flat volcanic apparitions or abandoned 47 Packards, and yes, mineshafts. I have eaten it big in the dirt so badly that even had dirt inside my goggles, but was able to stand up, and shake it off. Too many times. My riding buddies called me “the cockroach’ for my ability to shake off disastrous crashes. But it seems KARMA has a way of making every crash just a little worse than the last one.
After getting my hat handed to me racing night motocross at Indian Dunes in 1983, when the CR480 came out, my bike, a tricked out 1976 Bultaco JPR 360 Pursang became an instant antique. Kids on minicycles would roost me on Shadow Glen. I was missing gears and going over berms trying to keep up with the new Hondas, but it was futile. One time I was so exhausted from the second moto, I put a “for sale” sign on the Bultaco. Some kid wanted to buy the new Metzler tires, not the bike. Go away sonny.
That takes me back to the first crash in Hungry Valley on my Uncle Rich’s tricked out AT1MX. I had just graduated from a 250 pound SL90, and was on a peaky very fast AT1 MX bored to 200cc’s by EC Birt. The Yamaha came on the pipe in some marble like dirt, and I ended upside down in a big ditch, with that Yamaha on top of me, leaking premix down my neck. Everyone from camp went ape and after untangling me from the AT1, sat me down in camp with big ice bags on all the broken bones. Just the collar bone thankfully. That cut short our weekend stay.
There are too many to list between epoch crashes, and mere elbow skinners. The next big crash happened in 1983, when I got away from Moto cross, and into desert riding. I purchased a new XL600R from Glendale Honda, and proceeded to stuff my head in the sand every time I rode the damn bike. It had great suspension, leading axle 30mm front forks, and a pro-link in the back. But after about ten minutes of hard riding the suspension would get overtaxed, and I’d end up sitting on a lawn chair in camp, wondering what happened, holding broken goggles and a Bell Star full of dirt. One time my friend Rick Pearson got on Mike’s CR480 and pointed it up the big sandwash to Shadow Mountain. I got on the XL600, and gave chase. I hit a big road berm in fifth gear, and out went the lights. I woke up the next morning at home in bed, with giant burns on my back from the XL’s headpipes. I vaguely remembered driving home after Rick’s wife, Carolyn found me stuffed into a pucker bush, the portly Honda on top of me. I was wearing a black helmet, in 120 degree heat. Out cold. My friends searched for about two hours before they found me. They laid me out in the shade, in the back of my Datsun (yes, a Datsun mini truck, the last year.)
Then there was the 1986 YZ490 Yamaha that could sense big rocks, and head right for them, breaking my sternum in the process. Sneezing or coughing for a month after was very painful. Finally the DMV screwed up, and instead of a green sticker, I got a license plate! Oh joy, commutes from Burbank to LAX were now cut in half. Of course once I hit Inglewood, every green and purple CB750 would want a stoplight drag, and I obliged them by starting off in second gear, and disappearing from sight. It’s amazing I lived through that. The YZ 490 made a great street bike, even with knobbies.
Me on Super’s Honda 230. I really believe a stock SL100 could smoke it. Nice suspension though
Around 1985 I got into Cushman scooters. I had several Cushman Eagles, and one Super Eagle with the 11 to one compression, a compression release and a countershaft sprocket the size of a personal pizza. I could ride the thing to work, down the Harbor Freeway ay sixty mph, and even passed a few Harleys.
One Sunday my uncle Richard and I started in on the Tanqueray and tonics, and after we were good and drunk, decided to take the Cushmans up to the Griffith Observatory. On the way there we started doing tricks on the Cushman’s, my uncle would take his hands off the bars, and sit on the luggage rack, I would fold my arms and lay down on the passenger seat.
It escalated to standing on the floor boards with no hands, but the big one was when I stood up on the seat, and folded my arms. Cushman Eagles are like miniature Harleys, with tank shift and a foot clutch. Also springy seats like a big bicycle seat. That I was standing on. Realizing I was getting into some bad pavement, I jumped down onto the seat, but my feet missed the floorboards, and my throttle hand went under the handlebar as I went down onto newly paved asphalt, like 50 grit sandpaper. My Uncle came up, and asked if we were still going to the Observatory. I replied “no” and whipped a U turn, back to the house with dry cleaner bags and duct tape. That left a mark.
Imagine trying to ride this without crashing your brains out.
Now I’m trying to chronicle all the minor and major mishaps of both on the street and dirt, for over 30 years, leaving the best for last. Here it is, the big one.
I had bought a Buell City-X (City Cross) from Harbor city Harley Davidson. It was everything I ever wanted in a street bike. A Sportster motor de-stroked to 890cc’s, housed in an aluminum frame, with fuel injection, the gas stored in the frame, even the oil tank was in the left swingarm. It had a 50 inch wheelbase, and co do wheelies for miles. No valve adjustments, any of that crap, just change the oil and the filter and you’re good to go. Forever. And it weighed 400 pounds wet.
The Buell made a great fire road bike, those Pirelli Diablos stuck like glue in the dirt. Guys and pukka fire road bikes would blanch in terror as a Harley Davidson based motorcycle would destroy a road berm, and pass them, only to vanish in the dust. But things were conspiring against me.
You could not pry me off that Buell. It was a classic. The best handling street bike I ever owned. Someone at home would say “I need some aspirin.” And I would be down at CVS, helmet in hand procuring the aspirin. All the batteries on my other bikes and truck started to run down, since I was only riding the Buell around to work, errands, and kicking ass on Ducati’s going to Newcombs. I was in bliss, a hot CR500 for the dirt, and a Buell City Cross for the street.
My mother in law was very sick in December of 2006. She was in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank in intensive care. I took the day off, December 21st, 2006 to take care of a wheelie ticket some Burbank cop gave me, also to help Silvia, my mom-in-law with anything she needed.
I was riding back from the courthouse when some Russian Uzbek in road rage, piloting a huge Suburban SUV rear ended me going about sixty, when I was slowing down for a traffic light. He ran me over, his tire mark going over my armored jacket, my Buell broken in half at the steering head. I woke up as the paramedics were cutting my clothes off, and Amparo called me on the cell phone. I couldn’t feel my legs. And they wouldn’t move. I answered the phone, Amparo asking what ER she had to pick me up from (like always) but I said this was a bad one, and I’d call her later. I coded out and died on the loading ramp of country USC from pneumo thorax, where my chest cavity had filled with blood, and collapsed my lungs.
Lucky for me a French doctor was there, learning about gunshot wounds, and knew exactly how to save me. Two chest tubes, and the paddles brought me back. I was in the hospital and rehab places for a year, undergoing operations to replace my left shoulder, my back and a broken femur that had to be screwed and wired together.
When I got home, I headed for the garage in my wheelchair, and started to build a wheelchair with a hopped up Honda C70 motor in it (one gear.) It is a success, and I ride it all the time.
Lookie them backarms. The hopped up C70 Lifan Honda knock off in my Titanium framed Invacare, once Invacare was built and owned by Bert Greeves. It does have about the same suspension, rubber bands.
You can’t keep a dirt biker down for long. I took the Honda powered wheelchair to El Mirage and made a circle track on the lake, next to where we camped. It slides real nice. Also no green sticker or spark arrester. I’m waiting to get chased by a BLM like usual. Danger is my business.