ALWAYS BE READY: The Other 200-mph Club

He who laughs last, laughs longest.

The Other 200-mph Club illustration

In August 2013, Ralph Hudson's 285-hp turbocharged GSX-R1000 hit a slippery patch of Bonneville salt and went postal at 218 mph. He had been aiming for 260. "When I lost traction, the rear wheel was suddenly going 30 mph faster than bike," he recalls. "Rather than letting off I shifted up and immediately the bike started a slow weave. My sense was that I had lost the front end, and I had a sinking feeing in my stomach that I couldn't save it."

He was right, as the weave quickly turned violent and threw him off. The former AMA roadracer then slid and tumbled for 2,000 feet, suffering a torn and shredded shoulder that required $28,000 worth of ambulance and helicopter rides, plus an overnight hospital stay, surgery, skin grafts, and months of rehab. Fortunately Hudson returned to racing eight months later and has since gone 232 mph.

At the time of the crash, the Bonneville and El Mirage record holder was wearing older roadrace leathers, selected because the kneepads on his newer ones didn’t fit inside the fairing. He also wore dirt bike-style gloves with no knuckle armor, likewise to fit the fairing. After surviving a more-than-200-mph wreck, Hudson now undoubtedly knows something about crashing that the rest of us don’t, so I asked him what he’d do differently next time.

His responses were as sensible as his always-calm demeanor.

1) Invest in airbag leathers. Both Alpinestars and Dainese produce airbag-equipped racing suits that help protect your shoulders, neck, and collarbones. Hudson also suggests maximizing elbow and knee armor. In short, get the best leathers you can buy.

2) Buy medical transportation coverage. AirMed medical jet transportation plans cover you anywhere in the world you may be riding or adventuring for a yearly cost of $265 for individuals or $385 for families. Airmed.com has more information.

3) Get supplemental insurance. Hudson notes the Southern California Timing Association land-speed-record organization provides $15,000 of coverage beyond riders' regular medical policies. "Because of this, I was out of pocket only $5,000 for the entire crash," he says. Check with your sanctioning body.

4) Turn on the GoPro. Motorcycle racers are analytical, and whether a high-speed adventure is successful or ends in tears, replaying the event can be invaluable in helping us learn more about the crash. Hudson also recommends a data-logging system, which provided invaluable metrics in his particular accident.