Try not to kill the photographer

Dailies, Galleries -


And here’s the downside to all the riding-fast-on-public-roads business. Victory Jon, the same photographer who captured Adey racing the Porsche, was minding his own business, shooting riders on Mulholland, when all of a sudden this GSX-R750 came right for him. Fortunately for us, his photographer’s instincts kicked in and he kept on shooting, even as the bike collided with his trailer.

Photos: Victory Jon

“The only thing that came to mind as the rider went down was, please don’t hit the photographer,” Jon told us. “Since it’s the first crash I have ever had at my site, I am still pretty sure it’s a very safe spot to shoot from. The rider is a pro and this was not his regular motorcycle. In fact, he just bought it that week and had it out for the first time. The tires looked like they had been on the track and he told me he should have tested them before hitting that turn the way he did.”
“My quote would be ‘Ride safe, Have fun, try not to kill the photographer.’”

Full crash sequence in the gallery below.

  • JaySD

    Where does John set up? I have RSS feeds for riderzero and rockstore photos but that was right on the snake

    • Roman

      Somewhat unrelated. Is there a Killboy equivalent for Mulholland Highway? I rode it back last May, would love to track down some pictures if they’re floating around the interwebz.

    • Scott Pargett

      He’s on Mulholland, East of the Rock Store on your way up towards the snake. There’s a big open sweeper as you’re coming up and through, can’t miss him when he’s set up.

    • adeysworld

      If you look at the map I supplied for the R1 vs Porsche story, I marked Jon’s spot there.

  • Steve

    My thought is: if a photographer can make a business out of sitting at that corner, why is their not a cop there also? Sounds like a honey pot of moving violations. Or is CA just that tolerant of this sort of thing?

    • Wes Siler

      The unspoken rule seems to be that they’d rather have everyone do it in one place that’s relatively safe than everywhere else.

      • Michael

        I would bet a few fatalities might change that. Also, insurance companies don’t like making payments. I would bet if they spot a claims hotspot it might change things.

        Love to see people having fun, hate to see the non-participants pay the cost.

        Who is paying for Johns’ cart? Looks like it got dinged up.

        • Kirill

          Presumably the guy that owns the bike that dinged up the cart.

      • Jonathan

        If you guys run into CHP that patrol the area, it seems like what Wes stated is fairly true.

        The police really don’t want people dragging knee or getting into accidents – and on most weekends the CHP are out in force.

        That specific corner that John is at has a relatively large elevation change, just 2 weeks ago CHP were on top and at the bottom of John’s corner waiting for speeders.

        As long as they don’t catch you blatantly speeding or breaking the law, it’s all kosher.

        The stretch of highway seems to be self-policing as well. Riders know what a treasure it is and no one wants to risk having it taken away.

    • aristurtle

      In addition to the social angles that others brought up, think about how the Doppler effect works. A radio wave is emitted, its reflection is received, the shift in frequency determines the relative speed of whatever that wave bounced off of.

      So in order to accurately clock someone’s speed with a radar gun, you need them to be moving in a straight line either directly towards or directly away from the observer. If they’re rounding a corner, all the observer can get is the component of the velocity that’s in his direction. The ideal place to catch speeding is a reasonably-sized straight segment between corners.

      tl;dr: twisties are a bad place to record moving violations

      edit: of course, the police could go all old-school and time a motorist between two markers of known distance to determine speed; that works in any direction.

      • Eric

        I spoke with a CHP pilot at an airshow and he said that they are not allowed to time the motorist between two marked points. They are allowed to pace the motorist and time themselves between the points however. (Those white tick marks at the side of the highway)

      • stempere

        This exact problem (and people smashing the breaks when they see a radar) is what lead to the soon-to-start experimentation in france of what they call a “radar tronçon” or stretch radar. On a highway, a radar at the start of a stretch, a radar at the end, both facing back (to also get motorcycles), no stop inbetween, and they just do the math…

  • dan

    take it to the track

  • Michael

    My buddy sets up solar powered wi-fi enabled remote video cameras for fun. This corner sounds like a good place for one, recording continuously. If one wants to video that sort of thing.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if John gets served by an insurance company or attorney seeking some photo evidence one of these days.

  • Ben Incarnate

    A Gixxer and Icon helmet, the stereotypes are true! Oh wait – they’re wearing full gear and can almost certainly ride better than I can. Damn, I can’t condemn this person.

    I reserve my righteous fury for a future article.

    • Thom

      Oh yes you can . and should !

    • Anthony

      It looks like the guy has on Jeans, knee pads, and sneakers.

  • Thom

    Observe the eventual fate of anyone riding like a half assed idiot on a Public Road .

    You may think you’re invincible and immune … but you’re not !

    Jon is damn lucky the rider didn’t hit him . A lot of folks aren’t so lucky when it comes to fools hooning and street racing on open Public Roads . Its not just the rider/driver that gets hurt/killed . More often its some innocent in the wrong place at the wrong time .

  • Brook

    I’m surprised Jon and Paul don’t have a small concrete barrier set up so they can take pics while ducking for cover.

    • adeysworld

      Jon told me his next investment will be in hay bales.

  • the_doctor

    Needs moar air fence.

  • ontheroad

    Oh look, someone lost control on Mulholland and they harmed… no one at all. Which is generally what happens when a rider swaps out on a canyon road: typically harm no one, occasionally themselves. The two men in danger this time both voluntarily placed themselves there and escaped unscathed.

    Sorry, I’m a bit tired of all the safety police rallying against what amounts to “sporting” riding in response to Adey this week.

    That’s definitely my least favorite sensation on a motorcycle: you turn in and the front end just walks away. Glad both are ok, and cheers for keeping the shutter clicking.

    • Kirill

      …And sometimes they go head-on into another rider, resulting in at least one fatality.

      • ontheroad

        I’m not saying there’s no risk, but I imagine that if you’re out riding on a section of road that is famous for exactly this sort of motoring you’re aware of and have accepted that risk. Obviously people here have commented that they avoid Mulholland on the weekends for exactly that reason: they don’t want to risk it. There are a million other nice roads everywhere in coastal CA with much less traffic on which the likelihood of *another motorcycle* taking you out is essentially nil (which I’ll argue is only slighty higher on roads like Mulholland, the Dragon, Hwy 9, etc.)

        How many of those motorcycle-on-motorcycle accidents happen annually in the canyons? I’d venture to guess the answer is: so few that the figures are statistically insignificant. Anecdotally, I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a while, actively involved in the motorcycle community, and never heard of one instance. We accept the risk when we go out to ride these roads and, again anecdotally, everywhere I’ve been all the local spots have regulars that police their own.

        Although I now live in a miserably flat state with no wonderful mountain roads I’ll include myself in this statement because I’ve always ridden quickly on the backroads: we are not the problem.

        Some legitimate problems:
        -Inadequate rider education
        -Inexperienced, uneducated and under-equipped riders with high-powered bikes
        -The urban street-racing culture
        -Helmetless pirates and squids smashing themselves to bits everywhere and giving motorcycling alot of unneeded bad press

        Show me footage of high-speed lane-splitting through rush hour or racing through urban centers and I’ll flame away…

        but for God’s sake, leave the fully-suited sport-riding enthusiasts having a bit of fun in the canyons alone.

        • Kevin

          In one of those “bike bibles” (that apparently I’m a limped-dick self-righteous asshole for reading, based upon the previous thread) there was a true story of a squid that crossed the yellows on a mountain road and killed a couple on their touring bike. It happens, sadly. If it didn’t happen, if that risk wasn’t there, there would be nothing to say about this kind of behavior. I really don’t understand why that is a difficult concept to grasp: the more you push the limits the more you risk exceeding them, and the more that puts other people in danger. I want all of us to have a rocking ball riding our bikes, but it’s never just about us is it?

          • Kirill

            There was an incident like that on Angeles Crest Hwy in August of 09, about a week before the Station Fire burned the place down. Duc vs Harley. Story I heard was that the Harley guy was using the whole road to try to catch up to his buddies and plowed head-on into the Duc. Duc rider was DOA, Harley rider was airlifted out. That wasn’t a pleasant scene to come across.

            We came across two more wrecks on the way down. That was a pretty ominous Sunday.

            • ontheroad

              That’s sad, no doubt. I do acknowledge these things occur: I’m just saying that it seems pretty few and far between and it’s the risk we take riding these roads. I just feel that all the finger-shaking at people riding aggressively in the canyons is a bit out of touch with reality given the incidence of these riders actually harming anyone but themselves.

              To quote a Baja driver (this taken from the excellent documentary “Dust to Glory” about the Baja 1000, which takes place every year on open, public roads with mobs of onlookers right on the course)

              “My biggest fear is not me tearing up the truck, me getting hurt, it’s me killing some kid, me swapping out and going into the group of people or some guy pulling a truck out and I bounce off of him and kill these people that weren’t doing anything. But why quit what you love for a situation? You don’t quit driving on the road because somebody gets in a car accident and dies. I mean, I’m not gonna stop flying because of 9/11. Do I feel anguish for it? Yeah. I don’t ever want that, or want that for anybody. But I can’t stop my life because of it.”

              • adeysworld

                “But why quit what you love for a situation?” Best part of the quote…

                Thanks otr

      • Sean Smith

        Actually, I have a friend that did exactly that and no one died. CBR1000RR head on into an SV650, both bikes going at least 40 mph. SV rider had a concussion and bruises. CBR friend walked away.

        You’d be surprised at how little speed and scenario have to do with injuries.

        • adeysworld

          Oye..I still remember swerving around the wrecked CBR and then lifting the SV650 off the poor guy.

    • jason

      Actually you might be endangering the people sent to check on or rescue you. From just driving with the lights/sirens going (always a danger), to navigating the roads in rigs, to rappelling/skycraning in, etc. I have spent 20+ years riding along with 14+ years as a fireman and 6 years in the Marines before that. I KNOW I can’t ride as well as the guy wrecking and when I lived in SoCal or visit I ride my ass off, but please don’t ever think that an accident results in nobody getting put in danger.
      Other than that, if the guy is that good/experienced then shame on him for blaming the bike.

  • Gregory


    I’ve crashed on newish bikes before. It takes a while to get used to new throttle, steering, suspension, et cetera. In fact, half my crashes* have been due to a new bike with which I was inexperienced.

    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

    *One out of a total of two.

  • Markus

    I have been watching a lot of canyon wipe out footage, due maily to this site, and I noticed that the front wheel always “turns in” right before a lowside. How about a HFL artical explaining why that is? kind of a follow up to how to use your brakes, how not to lowside.

    • Case

      How not to lowside: Don’t ask too much of the front tire.

      Many of the crash videos from rnickeymouse show an obvious cause for the overload on the front tire. It could be a change in traction (wet road, gravel), a swerving line, too much brake, an abrupt release of the front brake, abrupt throttle application (upsetting front wheel). Usually it’s a combination of these things.

      If you want to test the limits of front-tire traction buy a cheap bike and practice in a deserted parking lot. You can do the same with an expensive bike but OEM plastics are expensive.

      For a detailed explanation of what’s happening at the front tire check Nick Ienatsch’s Sport Riding Techniques.

    • Wes Siler

      The wheel turning in is just a symptom of it losing traction. Front wheel slide while leaned over = bad news.

    • ontheroad

      The front tire is losing rolling traction at this moment and begins skidding/skipping across the pavement. The bike’s forward momentum pushes the front tire laterally across the pavement and the front end is turned by this force until it hits the steering stop. If you’re still exerting force on the inner bar trying to turn the bike in, they can lock with the wheel “turned out”, but it seems most commonly the other way, maybe because the rider is instinctively trying to stand the bike up when traction is lost and is pushing at the outer bar.

      How not to lowside? This will be longwinded but apart from choosing a line (don’t turn the damn thing in too early), the basics are roughly this:

      1. Body position: people get crossed-up on the bike, hips out/head up, and run the bike to drastically unnecessary lean angles for a given speed increasing the likelihood of traction loss. Keep your manhood off the tank by an inch or two and your weight on your legs and knees NOT on the handlebars. Putting your weight way forward on the seat and/or on your hands and wrists makes the front end more likely to get unsettled and, when it does, it will react badly if you have a deathgrip on the bars. Keep you head low (looking over or alongside your inner mirror) and your whole body inside the centerline of the bike so you’ve got the largest possible contact patch (rubber on the ground).

      2. Know your limits with trail braking: the more lean, the less brake pressure. Only very experienced riders will trail brake to the apex… otherwise, be off the front brake lever (smoothly) beforehand.

      3. Be smooth on the controls. Subtle inputs win the day. Hamfistedness puts you on the ground. It’s a process: roll off the thottle, shift yourself to the inside of the bike, squeeze the brakes if you need to scrub some speed, turn in while easing off the brakes, CRACK the throttle open around the apex (neutral throttle: not accelarating but with the gas just open, this settles the bike and weights the rear for accelerating through the exit), and then feed more gas in as you stand the bike up.

      In alot of those videos you’ll see riders failing at a combination of 1 & 3. They’re all wrong on the bike so they’re lower on the tire than needed, and then they’re clumsy on the inputs: on the gas (not neutral throttle but accelerating) too early then chopping it trying to correct. By opening and closing the gas midcorner, you’re taking weight off the front and then reloading it again, which often pushes the front causing a lowside. Watch the throttle hand before they crash, it’s likely they’ve done just that.

      I’m sure others here have plenty of wisdom to add if they care to. Learn good habits on the bike, learn your roads and build speed gradually: you’ll greatly improve your chances of riding home happy & in one piece.

      • adeysworld

        LOL…jk…well said buddy.

        • ontheroad

          Yeah yeah, I know, bored at work today… at least I gave a disclaimer! Thanks man, I try to be helpful when I can. Next time I’m in LA, I’m going to find you reckless sons-of-bitches and give you a good scolding.

          • adeysworld

            Hahaha get in line!!

      • Markus

        “…maybe because the rider is instinctively trying to stand the bike up when traction is lost and is pushing at the outer bar.”
        That’s what I was thinking, a sort of counter counter steering.
        thanks for the reply, who needs articals when you get replys like that;) people were saying their biggest fear is going over the bars while brakeing, I gotta say losing traction on my front tire is much more of a fear for me… which has actually happend, unlike going over the bars which hasn’t since I was a kid on a BMX.

  • mugget

    Another rider completely fails to safely and competently control their motorcycle. It’s just a shame.


    Safety-shmafety! The embarrassment factor is off the charts here! Wiping out is bad enough, having an audience is worse, but slamming into the photographer’s rig? And then having it plastered all over HFL? Awe, man…dude needs a hug!

  • adeysworld

    I don’t know how fast this guy is going, but I know I move thru this turn at a pretty brisk pace. And I don’t touch knee thru this turn. See link -

    I’ll allow ontheroad to make a longwinded assessment of the comparison.LOL :P

    I wouldn’t blame new bike or tires here. Poor body position on bike made him run out of traction points.

    • ontheroad

      *Ahem* Thank you. Now, if we can direct our attention to the photographic evidence, as you can clearly see based on some basic comparative analysis of each rider’s respective trajectory, turn-in point and lean angle vs. body position…:

      The guy on the GSXR didn’t have his elbow out far enough.

  • Archer

    The photographer’s presence is an inducement to this illegal behavior. He’s a percentage of the problem.

    • adeysworld

      True, but he’s not flashing a sign saying “do something cool for the camera!” It’s up to you or whomever is passing by to keep their calm and not over do it for a poster-shot.

      • Archer

        Certainly true.

    • Robert

      Does he have a permit to be there?

      • adeysworld

        He’s not selling hot dogs on the side of the road…

        • Archer

          With that said, he WOULD need a permit in certain jurisdictions and locations- on a National Forest road for example.

  • T Diver

    I was at a BBQ 2 weeks ago and a dude was in a wheel chair cause some guy on a Harley came into his lane and hit him head on on the same streach of road pictured above. He was pretty banged up but the guy on the Harley is dead. Do what you want just stay in your own lane. If you scroll through the snake pics online, you can see other people crashing as they are getting their picture taken [showing off for the camera].

  • Luke

    They should just make it like Nürburgring. Put a toll gate at one end, make the traffic one way, park an ambulance out there, and let people rip on the weekends.

    You can go as fast as you want, provided you keep going in the same direction. Give all the photogs trying to get a snuff video some radios so they can radio in to close the ‘circuit’ if the pavement needs hosing down.

    Donate all the proceeds to the CHP. Call it a bribe if you like. Like most things in a capitalist society, you make more money and make things safer when you legalize and tax, rather than punitively police.

    • Brad

      The only problem with that far-fetched solution is that it’s a public road with homes and driveways in places.

  • Brad

    It’s a bad spot to speed, particularly on the weekends. I’ve had a minivan pull out of the vista point just up the road, making a u-turn right in front of traffic exiting a blind corner. Just up the road from there, I’ve also seen a new rider, memorialized by VictoryJon on his site, dead under a sheet.

    I don’t think the buzz-kill safety Nazi approach works. Nor do I think it’s appropriate to ingore the potential consequences of crashing on a public street.

    Maybe the answer is in the middle somewhere.

    Go quickly, ride better, wear some good gear, use your head, have fun longer.