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I was leaning into the turn. This was my favorite part. Leaning way over, the adrenaline rush, tires complaining, the ground rushing by. I hit the midturn, ready to kick the bike into high gear, my right hand itching to pull back the throttle and streak out of the corner. But I'd badly miscalculated this particular turn - it was a decreasing radius circle and I was going to have to lean ever further into the curve to make the nut. A misty rain that hadn't bothered me before had put just enough water down on the road to make the tires lose traction.

I just put it down all the way. We began skidding across the road, me and this out of control machine. My hands were clenching the handles hard. I tried to kick away the bottom of the bike to get the back tire and chain away from my right leg. My helmet was on the ground, skidding and bumping along. I could see the tarmac streaking by about sixty miles an hour, an inch from my face. No helmet and I'd have been just another statistic, another closed casket.

I looked up and all I could see was a big flat truck bumper. I was heading straight for the underside of the oncoming truck. Fortunately he'd seen me put the bike down and hit his brakes. The blue smoke was starting to scream out the bottoms of his tires, and the cab began to hop around the road, hop and lift up. He was looking straight down at me. After what seemed like an eternity, I stopped within inches of impact.

The handlebars were bent, the right peg, my glove and right boot and most of my right pants leg weren't there any more. I don't know how the leg managed to have but a few scratches on it. Talk about adrenaline, I was maxed out. That bike, normally so heavy, I'd picked up off the ground and put it down and bent the handlebars back into place. I was talking like a maniac on speed, apologizing to the truck driver, thanking him profusely for his great reflexes, assuring him I'd be all right and could walk the bike home. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

The next day I was sore all over, in the neck, the wrist, the ankle. Needed a new helmet, too. I could hardly move that bike off its kickstand. When I took it to the shop, the two of us, me and my mechanic, couldn't make handlebars bend the least little bit.

I still have dreams about the road going by an inch from my face, and the truck looming just up ahead. I wake up, and have to go to the bathroom. My hands still shake.