Crashing is probably not the best way to finish off the season - but I did. I crashed because of utter stupidity, and in a way, I'm weirdly glad it happened that way. Nobody else was involved (either as a victim or a causer) and I didn't crash in a confidence knocking way (like losing the front or high-siding).
I knew I would crash eventually - it's a part of the game. It's why I've always stuck to my philosophy of "If I can't afford to buy it twice, I can't afford to take it on track".
Normally, when I'm deciding on a corner to improve on, I'll pick one while I'm sat in the pits staring at the notes on my circuit map.
Sometimes, but rarely, I pick a corner while out on track. Then I'll go through it normally and give it a lap to think it through: what did my notes say, where can I improve, is it even worth it?
On this occasion, I did a silly and made a rash decision on the approach to the corner.
How to avoid this crash, step 1. Don't rush.
Island bend at Oulton Park is a very fast left hander at the end of a long straight - not an ideal place to crash, if there ever was one.
I got it into my head that I could brake and tip in much much later than I normally do.
As it turns out, I braked good 250yd later than where I normally do - no wonder I crashed.
How to avoid this crash, step 2. Baby steps.
I flew past my normal braking marker with confidence - the throttle still pinned.
Upon arriving at the new marker, I immediately regretted it. I still believed I would make the corner, but would run wide - like I usually do when I screw up.
If ever there was a time to not be a dumb shit - now would be it.
I dumb shitted.
I braked - but didn't brake very hard. I blipped on my downshift - but somehow didn't release the throttle properly and kept it slightly open. I tipped in - but did so ridiculously slowly.
I essentially did nothing, rode straight on and took to the grass at 111mph.
I managed to stay on through the bit of grass, in the hopes that the gravel would stop me - which it didn't. So, with the barrier getting ever closer, I decided to jump off as I left the gravel - at 87mph.
I hit the deck tensed up, and in a weird moment of clarity, an article I read years ago just popped into my head: stuntmen don't tense up, they rag doll.
So I did... Well, I tried.
A couple of head-cracking backwards somersaults later, I slid to a stop just in time to hear my bike smash into the barrier with a bone shuddering crunch.
My first though: "Well, that's fucked"
Huge thanks to the circuit marshals and medics. The red flag must have been out before I stopped my olympic gym routine, and the medic car turned up just after I'd hauled myself over the surprisingly tall barrier.
They were surprised I wasn't knocked out, and absolutely amazed that I didn't have any aches or pains - I wasn't even sore the following day.
I'm a very lucky boy who is apparently made of magic and rubber - but really, my gear should take all the credit.
n.b. It's worth noting that these photos were taken of the gear straight out the van. I haven't cleaned them or anything. They don't even look crashed in - I know.
n.b. People who don't wear a back protector: get one - it's better than a Darwin award.
As far as the bike goes, I think I got away with it pretty lightly to be honest.
So far as I can see, that's it. Frame looks ok, wheels and forks look straight - it definitely doesn't look like a bike that cartwheeled into a barrier doing a million.
n.b. I've not checked for any electrical damage, or attempted to start the bike - nor will I. It's going to the shop as is to be thoroughly checked over.
Even if I didn't royally cock up at braking, downshifting and tipping in - I think I would have crashed anyway. I'm sure someone could have made the corner from where I "braked" - but I don't think I could have. I'm sure I would have low sided at speed, likely leaving my bike and I much worse off.
That's not to say the crash wasn't avoidable. I was an idiot to take make such a gigantic change. Braking a couple of feet later - yes, a couple hundred yards later - no.
I made a mistake.
I'm only human.