What Went Wrong: 2018 Moto Beach Classic Motorcycle Crash

Only to end up sprawled across the ground like Jenga pieces at the end of a party

huntington beach illustration
Bar banging and left turns on 500-pound street bikesMichael Koelsch

The Crash

After hours of waiting and talking smack on a summer afternoon, we finally found ourselves on the starting line, ready to race. Twin-cylinder engines roared, the flag dropped, and clutches released. All 13 of us shot off. Thing is, hunting for that keyhole-size gap for the inside line into the first turn on a big, heavy street bike, things can go wrong in a hurry. You can’t bang bars like you can with a 200-pound dirt bike. When you try, the results always end the same: bikes careen out of control, usually landing atop someone. So, there we were, sprawled across the ground like Jenga pieces at the end of a party. A light ring of the bell here, some bumps and bruises there—for the most part, we escaped unmangled.

The Scenario

Nobody was thinking that 500-pound street bikes and slick short tracks don't mix, but that was the point of the inaugural Moto Beach Classic. Taking place just steps from the sand, the Super Hooligan circus rolled into Huntington Beach sliding their porky modified street bikes around a tiny clay course. Fast forward to the main event, and I was on the back row. Yikes.

The Lesson

Ride faster during practice and qualifying. Like any form of racing, starting on the front row is always best. Pair that positioning with precisely timed gas-clutch coordination, quick reflexes, and of course, a little bit of luck, and you’re at the front with nothing but clear track ahead. Now it’s more difficult for an erratic rider to knock you down. Be wary, because when you’re in the lead, jitters may run high. Focus on your lines, stay inside, and more often than not, the race will come to you. On the other hand, if you find yourself starting from the back row, keep your eyes up. You’ll be able to bob and weave more effectively when you can see what’s ahead. About to collide with a downed bike or rider? Stay light on the front and wheelie over them. It may not always work, but it’s worth a shot. —Adam Waheed