Why it's vital to keep your visor down

The story of a fast encounter with a pigeon


The culprit...

The impact...

The trip to hospital...

The aftermath...

THE STRAIN on my neck was a good indication I wasn't hanging about. A quick look at the SV650's speedo confirmed my thoughts - 125mph is fast enough in anyone's book - especially on an unfaired bike. Pushing my arse back in the seat, I tucked in tight in an attempt to catch as little windblast as possible. Won't be long 'til home. Or so I thought.

I didn't see the pigeon before it hit me but I knew by the almighty impact I'd made contact with more than just a sparrow. It's amazing what random thoughts flash through your mind in these sort of situations. My brain was catapulted back 20 years to a scuffle at a rugby match, where a burly prop-forward had taken an exception to yours truly. The shock was similar, the pain almost identical, only this time I didn't have the luxury of rolling around the floor clutching my face. Far from it.

Luckily (yes there is such a thing in this situation) the road had been recently repainted and I could just about make out the solid white line running along the left-hand edge of the carriageway. Squinting through watering eyes and a blood spattered visor, I clung like a limpet to the edge of the road, bringing the bike to a standstill without thinking. Then the adrenaline kicked in.

Confused, dazed and in a lot of pain, I tried wiping the blood from my visor but couldn't seem to clear it. Then the penny dropped. The dark, sticky liquid was on the inside - I was looking at my own blood.

Removing my helmet to look in the mirror gave me a fright. My nose was double the size, both eyes were half closed and my face was covered in blood. To add to my problems, the bleeding was getting worse. Panic was setting in.

My friend, who'd been following behind, had seen everything and called for an ambulance. With the situation under control, he whipped out his camera and started taking pictures - cheeky bastard! I was whisked to hospital and diagnosed with concussion and a broken nose. A few days later the swelling subsided and I was left with two lovely black eyes. My nose still gives me gyp to this day.

And what about my helmet? I was wearing an Arai Condor at the time. Both helmet and visor did a fantastic job of stopping over a pound of feathered meat, bearing the brunt of the massive impact - the Arai helmet is still in use to this day, however, I'm not so sure about the pigeon...

So there you have it - unlucky and very lucky in the same incident. One thing's for sure though: I'm certain, without a doubt, that I'd had have been killed outright had I not had my visor down.

THE STRAIN on my neck was a good indication I wasn't hanging about. A quick look at the SV650's speedo confirmed my thoughts - 125mph is fast enough in anyone's book - especially on an unfaired bike. Pushing my arse back in the seat, I tucked in tight in an attempt to catch as little windblast as possible. Won't be long 'til home. Or so I thought.

Article originally published in July 2008, updated July 2013

I didn't see the pigeon before it hit me but I knew by the almighty impact I'd made contact with more than just a sparrow. It's amazing what random thoughts flash through your mind in these sort of situations. My brain was catapulted back 20 years to a scuffle at a rugby match, where a burly prop-forward had taken an exception to yours truly. The shock was similar, the pain almost identical, only this time I didn't have the luxury of rolling around the floor clutching my face. Far from it.

Luckily (yes there is such a thing in this situation) the road had been recently repainted and I could just about make out the solid white line running along the left-hand edge of the carriageway. Squinting through watering eyes and a blood spattered visor, I clung like a limpet to the edge of the road, bringing the bike to a standstill without thinking. Then the adrenaline kicked in.

Confused, dazed and in a lot of pain, I tried wiping the blood from my visor but couldn't seem to clear it. Then the penny dropped. The dark, sticky liquid was on the inside - I was looking at my own blood.

Removing my helmet to look in the mirror gave me a fright. My nose was double the size, both eyes were half closed and my face was covered in blood. To add to my problems, the bleeding was getting worse. Panic was setting in.

My friend, who'd been following behind, had seen everything and called for an ambulance. With the situation under control, he whipped out his camera and started taking pictures - cheeky bastard! I was whisked to hospital and diagnosed with concussion and a broken nose. A few days later the swelling subsided and I was left with two lovely black eyes. My nose still gives me gyp to this day.

And what about my helmet? I was wearing an Arai Condor at the time. Both helmet and visor did a fantastic job of stopping over a pound of feathered meat, bearing the brunt of the massive impact - the Arai helmet is still in use to this day, however, I'm not so sure about the pigeon...

So there you have it - unlucky and very lucky in the same incident. One thing's for sure though: I'm certain, without a doubt, that I'd had have been killed outright had I not had my visor down.

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