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Drop The Bike, But Keep Your Ride

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

In New Zealand, we have a term for a particular motorcycle manoeuver called the ‘Came-a-Gutser’ (CAG) also known as an ‘Off’. CAGs are usually painful, sometimes spectacular, and potentially more serious than the (more popular) ‘Dropped-the-Bike’ (DTB) manoeuver.

A group of people liftiing up a bike on a rock track.
image credit: Bishal KC

Both these techniques are always spontaneous and involve many different variables. Consequently, on completion of either of the two manoeuvers, there are three poignant issues to ponder:

  • the extent to which rider error was involved

  • the impact on the rider in terms of damage to the bike and self

  • the learning gleaned as an outcome.

Expect to drop the bike

In Nepal, it is the DTB manoeuver which you will probably execute successfully—especially if, like me, you have seldom ridden on gravel roads and actually, you have ridden on no roads at all for the last decade.

A women with short white hair overlooking a bridge in a green surrounding
image credit: Bishal KC

Safety and enjoyment on tour are paramount. And it is fortunate that DTB events always occur at low speed with little or no tangible damage evident on assessment of the machine or rider.

On tour in Nepal, I counted every DTB (yes, there was more than one) as proof that my skills were lacking, and there was a social media post to confirm it.

I chastised myself, embarrassed, trying to mask my self-imposed humiliation.

Look for explanation and not for failure

According to the law of physics, a motorcycle will fall over if, for example, the stand is not fully extended after dismounting; there is inadequate acceleration on an incline; a corner is approached at an incorrect angle; by riding into an obstacle such as a rock or traction is lost in mud, sand, snow or water.

We humans have a (likely evolutionary) negativity-bias which refers to our proclivity to pay more attention to negative information than positive.

This negative-positive asymmetry means we may feel the sting of failure more powerfully than the joy of praise or success.

Find the lesson in the experience

With awareness of this innate bias, we can understand our reactions and modify our responses. We can apply advice and wisdom from other riders and heed their suggestions when on tour:

Your crew and fellow riders will encourage and support you. Together, you will lift the bike off the ground.

Turn up the corners of your mouth. Punch the air. Take the photo. Upload the post to social media.

Be kind, honest, realistic, forgiving, and non-judgmental with yourself and other riders.

Find the lesson in the experience and use it against the negativity bias to further progress and drive motivation.

Get back in the saddle

Disregard the ‘Offs’, the ‚Downs’, and the ‘Drops’.

Rate your ride only according to the ‘Ons’, the ‘Ups’ and the ‘Overs’ as they are innumerable and immeasurable in terms of significance.

Open the throttle on the open road with an open heart.

Dear Reader, ride your best ride. Live your best life.

"Success is falling nine times and getting up ten"—Bon Jovi

Laura Rust

Picton / New Zealand


Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share your experience with dropping bikes!

If you're interested in riding with us in Nepal, please get in touch or visit our tour page.

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