Beware, motorcycle musings ahead.
I recently hit a patch of black ice on my big bike, a 1200 cc Triumph Trophy. Riding in a straight line, well below the speed limit, not a care in the world apart from riding as safely as possible, and the next moment I saw my bike spinning off to the left just before I hit tarmac face down.
I dress for war, so luckily I was unhurt apart from a bruised hip and a bruised ego. The right side of the bike, on the other hand, is more or less missing.
While the Triumph is in hospital, I’m on my summer bike, a 675cc naked sports bike. Much smaller, much faster, likes to go fast; can outaccelerate a Porsche 911 Carerra Turbo, though one would have to be mad to try. Before the spill on the big bike, I could confidently thread the small bike through London traffic without a care in the world.
Bikers will always tell you (if they aren’t lying) that after any crash it takes a while to get your confidence back. But my crash wasn’t that scary, really: I was more worried about the bike since within a milisecond of landing I knew I was fine. And yet… getting on the small bike has been really hard for the past couple of days. It’s not turning, I’m not shooting gaps, I’m baulking around corners.
I’m confident I’ll bounce back, I’m sure, within the week.
But I wondered about the sort of psychological connection with trauma or change at work – whether losing budget or redundancy or not winning a big pitch. We have minor crashes all the time, but ocassionally there are those that seem innocuous but probably knock our confidence a lot (just as sometimes there are massive disappointments that we actually don’t let get to us at all).
I suppose what I am trying to get at is maybe it’s not the size of the crash, but rather the context. If I had been speeding or riding aggressively, I would have said “I got what I deserved.” But the bike just went down instantly. Maybe it’s about the degree of control, and the degree of surprise involved, that truly dictates the knock-on effect to confidence.