Sometimes it’s easy too look back and see where things went seriously and ass-over-tin-cups wrong.

GuzziOn the way in from the coast, across California’s nearly deserted great savannah and on a wonderfully wide, smooth road surface, I’d become a bit full of myself and let the bike off leash. “Let’s see what this thing’ll do,” I said into my helmet. Within seconds, I was somewhere north of 130mph and leaned into a long right sweeper. The bike couldn’t have been more steady had it been on rails. Plenty of throttle left, I kept my eyes on the exit of the turn and the long straight ahead. I was figuring this fuel-injected, pushrod Italian V-twin would be somewhere in excess of 150mph on that stretch when the doomed rabbit darted under my front wheel. The bike and I launched out of that perfect arc, and I was shot like a hockey puck across the opposite lane and out into God’s great outback of sage and rocks. On its side, the red bike plowed a hundred-mile-an-hour furrow. I slid close behind bouncing off rocks and branches like a pinball, feet first and on my back. My mind sped. Friction between my leathers and the ground heated up. By the time June slowed, got her bike turned around and back to where I had abandoned plan, I was on my feet.

Off her bike, she ran down into the devastation. “Are you okay?”

I pulled off my helmet. “Kinda stunned. Maybe okay.” I checked my neck, fingers. “Armor and leather—good. Help me get the bike up?”

“You’re white. You’re shaking,” she said.

“No shit.”

The machine, so elegant and adroit in motion, looked awful on its side with its bottom parts showing. Damn heavy, too. We muscled it upright, pulled metal, plastic and gravel away from the wheels and pushed the beast back up onto the road’s shoulder. If I’m ever on a bobsled team, I want June as one of the pushers.

The right side of the bike was wiped out: front brake lever, mirror, engine guard, and rear brake pedal. Zero brakes. Otherwise, the electrics still worked, and the fuel injection somehow survived. We backtracked along the skid marks and found the sheared brake lever and brake pedal. I wedged them into my tank bag.

June grinned. “Ready to try it again without brakes, hotshot?”

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