A few days ago, when I wrote my article Why We Keep Riding Despite Injuries, I never imagined the volume and quality of responses I would receive from our readers. Some of these stories are incredible reads, and it seems that some of our readers have received injuries that make my vertebral fractures seem like a hangnail in comparison.
I am amazed by the determination and fortitude displayed by some of these riders in coming back from injuries many would consider crippling. Many of them had interesting opinions on the “Why we keep riding” part as well. It seems that “Life is short, ride hard” is more than just a bumper sticker for hardcore motorcyclists like us – our passion burns so strongly that no setback, however serious, can extinguish it.
A big thank you to all the readers who responded – we received so many responses to this article that we are going to have post them in a couple seperate articles. Here is the first batch:
OK, loong story to follow, warm up your editorial and paraphrasing skills.
In October of 1995, I bought a 1993 Honda CBR600F2 from a salvage yard
(it was a theft recovery – all plastics had been pilfered). Two months
later, I met a girl with a 94 F2 through a note she left on my seat. I
had recently completed a milestone in my recovery from my divorce – I
had finalized the paperwork, paid off all the debt that had been racked
up, and I convinced the bank to finance my previously forbidden fruit.
Things were looking up.
We went on a couple of rides together. She had a few months experience
on me, mentored by riders who frequented the Angeles Crest, so I played
follow the rapidly disappearing leader most of the time. My first prang
was due to a large divot in the twisty roads around Lake Berryessa. I
got bucked out of the seat, and by the time I regained my position on
the bike, the road had rudely changed directions on me. I ended up
sideswiping a cliff wall on the other side of the road. This left me
with a rashed fairing, tweaked clutch lever, smashed clutch fingers, and
generally battered left side. While I bemoaned the loss of integrity to
my fairings, I knew my injuries were not serious enough to even consider
altering lunch plans. I still got the tsk, tsk, from my riding
partner’s mother. Both from the incident, and the intended continuation
of my riding. I countered with “I’ve walked into telephone poles harder
than this.” This somehow failed to elevate my rank in my accuser’s eyes.
My next adventure would prove to contain a little more impact. I was
riding to work one morning, doing 30 on a 25mph two lane. I leaned into
a 90 degree left hander, eyes squinting in the morning sunlight. Just a
fraction of a second more time might have made all the difference… or
not. A company cleaning drainage canals had hired Mario Andretti to
drive one of its dump trucks laden with sludge. In his haste to
dispense with his stinky load, M.A. took little notice of the safe
driving practices of his profession. The evidence of this lay ahead of
me, in a two inch thick road spanning length of slopped, tractionless
muck. Noting the qualities of said offending material, I attempted to
straighten the bike up and ride off the road on to the more
traction-worthy gravel lining the sides. Hmmm, why am I sliding on my
butt down the road? And why is my bike skritching itself down the road
ahead of me? Dammit, my bike! This was the thought inside my head as I
leapt to my feet after I came to a halt. Aaaaiigh! Was the next
thought, as all my injuries made themselves known. What began as a
quick trot to save my fallen steed, ended as a limping shuffle. I still
managed to yank the mount to its feet (so to speak) in one effortless,
adrenaline fueled motion. Bllaaarrrrggh! That was those aforementioned
injuries, reminding me that they were still present. A check of
conditions revealed the following: left side fairing now exhibiting
much more separation of unity, bar end scraped, mirror scraped, gear
lever firmly planted in engine case (stuck in 2nd gear), left knee
showing two quarter size indications of road rash, right knee with one,
left glove ripped seam between thumb and forefinger, steel toes shoe
with a slice in toe, butt denim worn through pocket to leave abrasion on
wallet, right elbow of jacket showing evidence of meeting with asphalt,
and no apparent damage to anything else.
After I rode my bike two more miles in to work, I got a ride to the
clinic for a real checkup. They wanted to cut my jeans off, but I
managed to peel them off without shrieking. X-rays of the most likely
injuries were all negative, so all I got was some Motrin for the pain
that was sure to follow. Which it did. I was hobbling around like an
ancient mariner, both knees wrapped and sore, right hip slightly bruised
and sore, right elbow with a strawberry from sliding inside the jacket
and sore, and both wrists feeling like they had been put on backwards.
After three weeks, the majority of my wounds had healed, but it took
over a year for my wrists to regain a semblance of their former strength
I think my wife (you know, the one with the 94 F2?) was the only person
who didn’t ask me if I was done with motorcycles after hearing the
story. Some people were easy to educate, and some just could not fathom
my desire to continue to ride. I think, pretty much, either you get it,
or you don’t. Some people have something in their lives that they can
relate to the passion of motorcycling. Those are the people who
understand risk, and its inevitable presence. Others think that by
refusing to acknowledge that bad things can happen to anyone, anytime,
it won’t happen to them. Now, I’m no biker nut case. I don’t go for
rides on my wife’s birthday, or religiously attend every two-wheeled
function I can ride to, or ride to the four corners of the nation on a
weeknight just for some good coffee. I can’t ride a wheelie for blocks,
or rip out a stoppie at the next red light. I haven’t mortgaged my soul
for another set of slicks for the race this weekend. I’m just an
average guy. I ride my bike to work most days, I go on the occasional
romp with friends, I attend a race or two, I’ve commuted from Monterey
to Sacramento on the weekends, I ride year round, and I have five
bikes. But there are definitely different camps where motorcycles are
concerned. And if you look deeply enough, you’ll find different species
of riders, too. Some riders that haven’t fallen, will give up riding
the first time they do. Others, who’ve come close to dying on their
bikes, wouldn’t dream of not riding again. I know my worst fear is some
injury that will prevent me from riding my bikes.
It’s hard to explain the feeling I get when I’m on a bike. It’s a
combination of being separated from the world, while being intimately in
tune with it at the same time. It’s the freedom from riding a nimble,
powerful transport and the vulnerability of being exposed. It’s being
the standout loner and looking for others like me. Maybe only crazy
people get it?
93 CBR600F2 – waiting in pieces to be resurrected for my son
98 VTR1000F – waiting to be sold to make room the newest addition
03 DRZ400S – waiting to be ridden more often than it has
05 GSXR750 – waiting to be unleashed on a track
06 Sport1000 – waiting to be delivered from the East Coast
99 CBR900RR – waiting for my wife to return from the Middle East to ride it
I have crashed quite a few times over the years, dirtbikes,roadracing and a minor street spill with no injuries.
late September of 04 I hit a pickup truck on the way to the dealer for some dirtbike parts.
totalled my yellow 1000 Strom and earned me an ambulance ride.
broke my pelvis and I needed surgery to place a plate and screws to hold it together while it healed.
One week in the hospital wasn’t too bad but, I wasn’t allowed to stand or walk for 8 weeks while it healed!
I went to a nursing home for 8 weeks and wheeled around in a wheelchair all that time.
my riding buddies saved the day with a dvd player and a copy of Faster!
I could barely walk up the stairs into my house and had doubts if I would ever feel right again.
rehab and time made the doubts go away and I knew I would ride again.
I picked up a new 650 Strom in March and am happy to be riding again albeit a bit more nervous and cautious in traffic now.
I would like to tell you about a traumatizing accident that I had. First if you can respond it would be nice. I would like to make sure this email was received by the right person. In any case I will tell you the jest of my story. I have ridden since I was 15 years old. I started with a 85’ Honda elite scooter. My second bike was a Derbi GPR 50. I was in accidents on both bikes. I think two on my scooter. Two on my Derbi. After those bikes I bought an ’03 R6. I rode it loved it!!! There’s no feeling like being on a motorcycle. It’s almost as though you are one with the machine. Your legs have turned into the road runner from loony tunes. Absolutely nothing in the world matters except for the next turn, or shifting and darting though a slim spot. The reason why you should have me write something for you is that after having my R6 for 9,000 miles I crashed hard. Coming out of a turn and going onto the freeway, in second gear, I gunned it. For some reason, weather it was a pot hole, and oil slick, I have not idea. It may have been the tires, or not having a steering stabilizer. All of a sudden still in second gear at about 9,000 rpm the front end goes into a major tank slapper. Nothing I have ever felt in my life. I will never forget the feeling I felt that day. So being in the tank slapper I was unable to up shift. I gunned it in hopes of getting out of the tank slapper although at about 64 mph there was so much fear going through me that I past out. As far as I know two people pulled me out of the freeway. An ambulance transported me 15 miles to Encinitas hospital (my accident was in Oceanside/Carlsbad). I guess they were unable to help me there, my injuries were too severe. They transported me via heli ride to Mercy hospital in hillcrest (San Diego). I woke up, consciously remembering things at least, the next day. My injuries at the time were: a broken wrist, elbow, rib (2), punctured lung, brachial plexus nerve avulsion, 3 snapped finger ( 8 or so pins needed), some road rash (Of course), and a major concussion. It has been since Oct. of 2003 since I’ve ridden a street bike. Why? I’m now unable to use my left arm, disabled. Did my accident keep me from ridding? No….I bought a Z250 shortly after my accident. Never has the sound of a street bike not caused me to take a glance. Ridding defines me!! There is a certain lingo that riders use that I will never forget; “Ride safe”.
My family mostlikely thinks that I am crazy for attemping to ride the street again.
My mother strongly disapproves my bro, I’m not quite sure what he thinks. I do know my dad knows I will do what I love. The only thing that holds me from riding is money….After my accident I went into a depression. Hard time. I am made to ride! Anyhow my next bike will be an RC51. That is for sure. I’ll keep you posted and send pix of it. Hopefully you guys will pay attention to my story!! Ryan
This isn’t about me, this is about a family member.
He was riding his immaculate ’89 Electra Classic home from Daytona Bike Week going up highway 40, I believe. A pickup turned in front of him into a mom & pop restaurant place, he hit them running about 50 mph. He was put in the Halifax Med. Center for about a week, his rehab lasted much longer of course. Punctured Lung, broken ribs, broken wrists. That’s just what I can remember. Less than a year later, he was back to riding, now he has a road king.
At the time of the accident, he was a little over 70 and that was 3 years ago.
His bike fit into the back of my dad’s full size pickup (8 ft bed) with the tool box and tailgate up.
Personally, I’m lucky to fit into the “those who will crash” column, save for some little spills when I was first learning to ride in the yard, I haven’t gone down yet.
The universal question, “You’re still riding?”, presumes that riders are
self-delusional fools who imagined that they would never get hurt and never
counted the cost. Actually riders are just about as smart as other people and
so it is not some ephiphany when they crash and get busted up. They knew it all
A reporter once asked the great racing driver Tazio Nuvolari if thought he might
be killed in a racing car (this was in the ’30s when Formula One was run on
public roads). Nuvolari said yes he did. The reporter then asked him how he
found the courage to drive. Nuvolari asked the reporter if he expected to die
in bed. The reported said he did. Then Nuvolari asked, “Then how do find the
courage to lie down at night?” Sadly, Nuvolari died to tuberculosis – in a bed.
I enjoyed the item you placed on motorcycle daily on 20 Dec 05 on why we still ride.
I had a weekend of riding with some friends through the picturesque Kanagaroo Valley in Australia’s Southern Highlands. On the way home, out of the valley, I took a fast left hander only to be faced with a right hander that I really wasn’t prepared for. Kind of got “lost in space” as any biker may relate to. The front wheel caught the gravel and the rest was the laws of physics. In short both the bike and I ended up wedged under the aluminium fence which saved me from rolling down a 100 metre steep slope to the valley floor. My leg was pretty messed up but, apart from a few bits of broken plastic the bike was fine.
I was able to mount the bike again and get home – a 6 hour ride. I must have been in some agony but I simply don’t recall. Maybe it was the adrenalin but more likely it was the immense joy that that bike had given me up to that point, that I refused to let go of. I don’t recall too much about that accident, some 12 months ago, other than the physio bills, but I do remember like it was yesterday, the stunning panoramas of the Valley in the morning sunrise, the perfectly banked bends back to back for many miles, the pleasure of finding “that unmarked road” purely by chance and the wonderful evening mateship in the Pub after the long days ride.
You’re right when you say you simply can’t explain it to others. My wife gave me hell and still does. It just is. And even if my injuries one day, are far more serious, I still feel the pure pleasure of it all, is somehow worth it.
Yes I have been down that road. (A few Times!)
Worst would have to be one fateful day back on Feb 16th 1996.
I looped my KX250 on hard pack limestone. Doin about 50MPH.
Fractured Vertebrae T1 & T2,
Shattered both Knee and Ankle, as well as some ribs and elbow damage.
My back healed up itself, however my knee required huge amounts of work complete with screws and plates and 64 x 1inch staples. (Looked like a train line!)
The miracle came with my ankle repair. After 6 months in a wheel chair and 3 x failed attempts to fix it, they decided to try 1 x last thing before amputation.
They ‘Chiselled’ my right hip bone off, cut that into 3 x pieces they needed in my foot and ‘Fused’ it all solid.
It’s not 100%, but I have enuff movement to allow me to still ‘Roost’ my Honda TRX450R quad and ‘Rip’ my K5 Gixxer 1000.
I have broken other limbs and collar bones etc over the years, and when asked why the hell I still ride, I just tell them….
“If you are asking the question, there is no point in me trying to explain. You just wouldn’t understand!”
10 Months in a wheel chair and 13 months off work in total.
That was not enuff for me to want to give bikes away.
It’s funny, when reading similar stories about other people you stop and think ‘wow’ he is dedicated, then you realize you are just as ‘Mad’ as they are and obviously have contracted the same disease!
Yesterday, Tuesday I was knocked off my Fazer 1000 by a Hyundai driver in Sydney, Australia. My first accident in many years.
Epping Road is very busy, with bumper to bumper traffic along its full length into the city. Normally, when the vehicles stop at traffic lights I would filter down to the front. This time I did something different, I moved across into a vacant turning lane to go left at the next intersection, then bang, up in the air, right leg trapped under the bike until I pushed it off with the other foot as we slid down the road.
It seems the driver wanted to get out of the stalled line of cars, put the steering on full lock and gassed it into the vacant lane just as I came past. Even though I broke nothing, the swelling on my calf and varous bumps & bruises make walking painful.
My wife came to accident site with my two sons to pick me up, by then the ambulance had treated me, the police had taken statements and charged the driver and the insurance company was notified to pick up the bike.
There was no indication from any of my family that I should stop riding, as a matter of fact there were useful suggestions as how to get around the work transport problems along with planning WHEN not IF I would be back riding.
Motorcycles have become a large part of family life, socially and from a transport perspective. My wife naturally worries about the boys learning to ride, as do I, but it is always assumed all will be well if you do what you can to avoid collisions and reduce risk.
Unfortunately there are many out there that have never ridden bicycles, let alone motorcycles and don’t keep an eye open for them. Also unfortunately those same people make legislation to make motorcycling “safer” without any experience or understanding of the needs of motorcyclists.
These seem to be ones putting out the bad vibes that then affect the perception of the wider community.
It will be an uphill battle but by demonstrating the positive cultural, social and transport benefits I am hoping organisations like the Australian Ulysses Club and the Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia along with the various bodies in the international community can put a more positive spin on motorcycling.
Carlingford, Sydney Australia
Like a lot guys my age (today I’m 43), I grew up
riding, then stopped for college, got married and
briefly owned an old YZ250 when I was first married.
Then family, job and lack of funds kept me from riding
for about 15 years. At the age of 37, I got back into
riding. I bought a used 1988 ATK 406 from my brother,
and tried to get out as much as possible. Also, I
bought all the appropriate gear, except for knee pads.
This was just before Christmas, and I knew my wife
was getting me a pair of knee guards. Waiting until
Christmas as it turns out, was a bad idea.
On December 23rd, 1999 I went for a quick ride by myself
at Metcalf Motorcycle Park in San Jose, CA. As I was
just getting back into the sport, I rode around the
park and took it pretty easy. I then decided that I’d
try out the MX track. Fortunately for me, the track
was pretty empty. This enabled me to build up the
courage to try it out. It had been years since riding
a track, so I took it slow. At the top of the track
was a small (it seemed huge to me at the time) table
top that I really wanted to clear. The jump was
located at the top of a short hill. I exited the
turn, and hammered the throttle, jumped more than I
ever remember jumping before (really not that far in
retrospect). I cleared it cleanly.
However, after landing, the handle bars felt like they were ripped
out of my hands and forced all the way to the left.
This was not expected, and not good. I hit the ground
before I realized what had happened. My leg got
caught between the falling bike and the hard dirt.
The result was my tibia being snapped just below my
knee, and the bottom part of the tibia completely
separated from the ankle. After coming too, I tried
to move, but it was no use. I couldn’t put any weight
on the leg.
Other riders came to my aid almost immediately and helped me get off the track. They
supported me as we went down towards the rangers
shack. A ranger approached with scissors, and I
immediately said “no way, not my new riding pants!” I
removed my boot and pulled up the pant leg so he could
visually see what was going on with my leg. One quick
look and the ranger said “go to the hospital, now!”.
The guys that helped me get off the track, then helped
load my not-so-trusty ATK into my truck, and helped me
climb in. I then drove myself with one good foot
about 15 miles home in pre-Christmas traffic. On the
way, I realized I was beginning to go into shock. So
I called my wife, and asked her to talk me all the way
home. Fortunately, I made it home with no problems.
Once there, my wife jumped in and drove me to the
At the hospital, they got me right into a room, and a
nurse walked in with scissors. Again I said “no way!”
With my wife’s help, we removed my new riding pants,
rather than cut them off. Then my wife went white as
a ghost and nearly fainted. For her to do that, I
knew something was wrong. Turns out that the Kevlar
stretch knees of my Thor pants acted as a pressure pad
on a 5-inch round wound that went all the way deep
into the knee. Somehow, a huge chunk of flesh was
removed from my knee. Blood gushed out, and my wife
called the nurse. Soon after they cleaned the wound,
I was put to sleep and sent into surgery. On
Christmas-Eve I was released from the hospital. That
was good, because the doctor thought about keeping
until Christmas morning, and boy was my wife upset
about that. She’d never have forgiven me.
Three months on crutches, another two months with a
cast, huge staples, lots of stitches in my knee, and a
long screw holding my ankle together was what I got
from a quick ride at the track.
So, what did I do? I did exactly what any
intelligent, aging dirt biker would do. I healed up,
sold the ATK to my neighbor, and bought a brand new
WR426. Since then, I ride regularly, have taught all
my kids to ride, race a few times a year, and general
love everything about dirt bikes and riding.
My doctor suggested I was too old to ride. I thought
he was crazy, and asked my self “why wouldn’t I ride?”
I couldn’t answer the question, so I found a new
Way back in 1991 I bought a used Honda Magna.
I picked up the Magna on my lunch and rode it back to work just waiting for
the freedom that Friday afternoon brings.
5:00 PM finally rolls around not quite soon enough, and I hit the road on my
new bike and head for home.
Riding in a bit of traffic on a county road on a beautiful day in April, a
car pulls out from a side road to my right making a left turn in front of me and I hit her square in the left fender.
Yep, you guessed it. I’ve owned this bike for only five hours and now it’s
a pile on scrap leaking its own bodily fluids all over the road.
Me, I didn’t fair so well either. I had a compound fracture of my right
femur, a laceration to my chin that required 19 stitches, and a cracked
molar. My face hit the fender of the car hard enough that the impact broke
my helmet too.
This little incident allowed me to become very familiar with the hospital
I had surgery that day to clean the leg wound and put into traction to await
surgery for Monday morning.
So, now I have stainless steel rods piercing my leg and a ten pound weight
on the end keeping my femur separated through the weekend. Monday morning
arrives and now I am extremely sick do to the broken bone marrow that has
found its way into my bloodstream and into my lungs. This affects ones
lungs so that oxygen absorption is greatly reduced…kind of like an acid to
the lung tissue. Off to ICU I go. I was a really nice yellow color and a
bit dazed. This nearly killed me. Five days in ICU and I was doing better,
but still had to wait three two weeks before I was strong enough for
surgery. Finally, the day arrives to have a stainless steel rod inserted
the full length on my femur-along with some assorted hardware to hold it all
Twenty seven days in the hospital lying on my back side makes for fun
walking-stand up, faint-stand up, faint-repeat a few more times. Now able
to walk on crutches I get sent home. Severe pain, three months of physical
therapy, three months off work.
Yes, I still ride. However, it took me two years before I bought another
bike. The crash did affect my confidence level.
I now ride smarter, and safe than ever before. I read, train, watch videos,
whatever I can get my hands on to improve my riding skills I do it. I
started riding motorcycles when I was seven and I’m now forty. I’m not
giving up that easily.
Non-motorcyclists just don’t understand why we riders accept the risks we do
to keep riding.
I’ve had on other hit from a car in 2002. Non-injury, thanks to my gear,
but that’s another story…
Elkhart, Indiana USA
2001 Kawasaki ZRX1200R – ZRXOA # 6776
2003 Honda ST1300 – STOC #983
“We are the ones our parents warned us about”
My story – Dan / Kawasaki ZX6R Ninja
I have been riding 5 years (since I was 25) without incident – thought I was pretty good/safe.
I ride to work rain, hail or shine. I have never feared any weather that much. Gusty winds, pelting rain… bring it on was my attitude – everyone else was weak (especially people who only ride in summer – they are known as fair weather fairies around here).
Riding home in the rain, I accelerated quickly to put 200 metres between me and cars at the traffic lights (I like to ride with a safety buffer at the front and rear).
Then it started pelting rain very heavily (bring it on I thought!).
I approached a gentle bend at some roadworks, I slowed down considerably to about 35 km/hr (very slow – as I adjust my speed to the road conditions) for some roadworks and leant in ever-so-gently on constant throttle. The roadworks meant the white painted line was mid-corner rather than on the side of the road.
The standing rain combined with a wet white line – the back tyre just let go amazingly quickly – no warning, no chance to catch it, no crazy speeds – I was deliberately taking it easy (and I wasn’t leant over very far at all) and I still fell without a chance to catch it (I reckon Valentino Rossi wouldn’t have been able to catch this one!).
I slid up the road in wearing work pants (cut open my knee to the cap) – had a bit of sore back – that’s about it. I am glad I slid more to the outside of the corner because on the inside of the corner was a street lamp and raised kerbing so I could have been seriously damaged if I hit that at speed.
Thankfully I keep that buffer when possible otherwise someone would probably have run me over while I was in the process of sliding up the road.
1. Be cautious of white lines in wet weather. They are like ice.
2. Always wear gloves and shoes – I was spared major damage.
3. Always keep a buffer front/rear when riding with cars.
I am still riding every day, I even wanted to ride home from the accident but I was a bit shaky and the bike was too damaged to ride.
Why would anyone give up riding? It is absolutely awesome – we all know it. Who cares what car drivers think? I speak to ex-motorcyclists and you see that “glint” in their eyes and smile on their face when they remember back to it.
I think I can say that I would rather die than live a life of quiet desperation and regret.
Geez, Alex, do I have to limit it to just one? I have
had more serious injuries than this incident, but this
story has a bit of a surprise at the end to show what
family support is all about.
Back in 1998 I was riding my Honda CBR600F3 in the
mountains around Napa Valley, California, with a bunch
of friends. We were doing our ususal “sporting pace”
when some guy on a brand new Yamaha R-1 worked his way
through us and took off. I had never seen a real R-1
before. Testosterone got the best of me and I thought
to myself, “Oh no you don’t.” The road was so twisty
that the underpowered little F3 actually stayed with
him! No I did not crash chasing the R-1.
We came to a fork in the road. Mr. R-1 went left and
our group’s route was to the right, so I waved and
went off alone on the right fork. I went slowly,
focusing on my mirrors waiting for the rest of my
group to catch up. While I had my head buried in the
mirrors the road turned to the left and I went
straight. The first sign of trouble was the crunch of
gravel near the side of the road under the front
wheel. Without thinking I stupidly hit the brakes,
and promptly high-sided.
I stupidly (there is a theme here.) threw my arms out
to catch my fall. The leather of my gloves grabbed
the pavement and stopped my hands, my body kept moving
forward, the shock went up my arm, and my right arm
popped out of the shoulder. I then fell flat on my
face, and as I slid on the pavement on my stomach the
still-spinning bike hit me in the buttocks and drove
me into the guard rail. I ended up stomach down with
my head propped up sideways on the guardrail, spitting
out a mouth full of dirt and gravel that had somehow
gotten past my full face helmet, with my dislocated
arm sticking out at a rather weird angle. How
When my buddies arrived they dragged the motorcycle
off to the side of the road. I was in shock but
completely conscious and feeling no pain, so I was
yelling at them to stop trashing my bike. They called
emergency services, and the ambulance arrived a short
while later. The paramedics decided that they would
not move my arm, so they brought out a cardboard
splint and ace bandages, slipped the splint under the
arm, and locked it in place with the bandages. Then
they turned me over, slipped a backboard under me,
lifted me up, and took me to the ambulance.
Throughout all of this I was talking and joking with
It was a small ambulance. My arm was sticking out so
far that I was too wide to fit through the ambulance
doors. They tried turning me to several different
angles, almost dumping me off the backboard in the
process, and nothing worked. I started laughing, and
the Paramedics decided they had to move my arm to make
me smaller. So they put me back on the ground,
unwrapped the Ace bandages, and moved my arm. THAT is
when I stopped laughing. Oh man did that hurt.
We drove down the hill to the local emergency room,
and the doctor checked me over. I had nothing more
serious than the dislocated shoulder, a few badly
bruised ribs, and assorted other bruises in various
places. He put me on morphine and got ready to pop my
shoulder back in place. As he was preparing to put me
under, one of my buddies came into the room and told
me that he had called my wife to come and collect me.
After hearing the preliminary story without a detailed
medical report, and figuring out for herself that I
was not dead, the first words out of my wife’s mouth
were, “I wonder what kind of motorcycle he will buy to
replace this one?” She did not even ask for the
extent of my injuries. She figured I would tell her
soon enough. Stop riding? Not even a remote
Riding is a disease. No, let me restate that. It is
a virus. There is no cure. There are worse things in
life one could be afflicted with. Enlightened family
members and friends understand this. Others simply
cannot and never will. I look at horse people and
think they are nuts – at least my motorcycle does not
intentionally kick me while I try to feed it.
I received a rather serious injury to a relatively mild crash..
I was 19 years old at the time and was still coming to grips with a Honda NSR250 MC21 I had just recently bought. It was on a somewhat twisty road located here in Brisbane, Australia. I simply came into a corner too hot and wasn’t able to pull the bike up to make the corner. I ran straight on and hit an embankment on a slight angle at no more than 15km/h. Just before the impact I put out my left arm to brace the fall and my arm overextended the _wrong way_ and I dislocated my left elbow and broke the Brachial artery/vein that supplies the arm with blood.
Fortunately I was promptly picked up by ambulance and taken to an excellent private hospital that had leading vascular and orthopedic surgeons on site. I was soon under the knife where the surgeon removed a vein from my left leg to replace the broken artery in my arm. I was pretty doped up on Morphine at the time but was later told it was pretty touch and go with the surgery.. my pulse was monitored every 45mins for 12 hours afterwards and my parents were required to sign a amputation consent form in case the surgery was unsuccessful. I was released from hospital 5 days later and then spent 6 months undergoing intensive physiotherapy to restore movement in the arm. To this day (6 years on) I have around 95% movement in that arm now and have no trouble playing sport or lifting weights.
At the time I think my father blamed himself for what had happened because he was the one that started me riding as a youngster (and still to this day has always had a bike @ home)… It was pretty hard on my mother as well. They were amazingly supportive and always let me make my own decisions, never told me to stop riding; even when I brought home a CBR929RR a few years later… I am sure many of my friends and relatives think I am nuts though!
The scar on my arm is quite large and I actually get quite embarrassed and feel ashamed of what happened now that I am a few years older and wiser. I did use it to my advantage once though; my soon-to-be fiancé actually used the sight of the scar as an ice-breaker (to ask me what happened) when we first met and you can guess the rest 🙂
Great idea for a subject!!
On August 28th of this year I somehow lowsided my Aprilia Falco on the “Dragon”. I was traveling with a large group of Falco’s at a very sedate speed, when suddenly in a lefthander, the bike and I parted ways. To this day I do not know what happened. All I do know is that I broke my tibia into ten pieces, broke the fibula in two separate places, cracked the ankle, and broke four of my toes, all on my left leg. I then lay on the side of the road for over an hour waiting on an ambulance to show up while unknowingly (due to shock I guess), lying in a fire ant nest!!!
Anyway, I now have a 15”, permanent, titanium rod and five titanium screws holding my leg together. It is now four months later and I am still waiting on the main tibia break to stitch together and the prognosis is for another two to three months of hobbling around with a brace on the leg. The eight and ninth paragraphs of your article really hit close to home. Yes, I will ride again. There has never been a question. My first reaction when I came to a stop was “Where’s my bike?” I have constantly gotten the same thing from everyone, (non-riders), “You’re gonna ride again?”. Or, “your wife is gonna LET you ride again?”. Give me a break. If you have to ask me why, then obviously you have never been a rider, so leave me alone.
My Falco awaits me……………………………………
I’ve asked myself the same question many times. In fact, I ask the
question “why ride at all” and don’t have an easy answer. I’ve seen a
number of friends be seriously injured, one of whom I had to personally
administer to (I’m a surgeon) and supervise being air-evacuated to
University of Pittsburg’s Trauma center with a serious brain injury and
fractured femur. Got a Christmas card from her the other day. She’s
graduated from college and just got married. It brought tears to my
I tell my friends who ask not to get started riding motorcycles because
they are too dangerous. Especially on the street. Unfortunately, for
myself, I can’t NOT ride because I have the PASSION. As you know, it’s
really hard to explain the feeling you get when riding. While standing
on my GS and cruising down the street, it’s as close to flying as a
human gets (without jumping out of a plane). The human mind and body
gets transformed. You are floating through space and time. Nothing
quite like it.
I had my own crash in ’83, fracturing my left knee, my right arm, and
finishing off the remaining cartilage in my right knee, ending a fairly
decent love of long distance running, including a few marathons. But I
found other things to do.
Now, 22 years later, I have nice titanium and plastic knees, and I’m
riding dirt bikes in the woods and the same bike as a motard on the
street and track. I am totally nuts, and admit it. But riding a
motorcycle is like nothing else. If you have the Passion, you have to
In Sept. of 1987 I was heading home from work when the “classic” motorcycle accident happened to me. A 70+ year old gentleman with coke bottle glasses turned left in front of me at the last minute. I left a 40 ft. skid mark from the rear tire locking but I estimate I was only down to approx. 20 mph from 45 when I hit the right front of the Grand Marquis with my 1985 Honda Sabre 700. I ended up in a ditch along side that Texas road with scrapes and bruises along with a compression fracture of my left forearm radius bone. In breaking the arm I sheared off the left handlebar where it attached to the triple tree. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days and had a plate with 7 screws on my bone for about a year until I had it removed.
My wife was one of the first to respond to the scene since several people sitting on a porch saw the accident and I had them call her. Fortunately we only lived about 3 miles from where the accident occurred. Being a nurse by trade she placed a splint on my arm with a cardboard sun shade from her car and followed me to the hospital when the ambulance arrived. She was supportive the whole time since she is a rider herself and knows of the possible dangers of motorcycling.
After I was out of the hospital I thought about quitting riding and Sheila said she’d buy me a new pickup if I did. I even started looking at trucks but the thought of giving up on it after having ridden for 12 years at the time was hard. I may get frustrated and mad at things but I don’t quit when things get tough. This incident fell right into that category. It was a setback and a not so gentle reminder to never forget to be 100% defensive while riding. It was also a reminder to work harder on the braking skills.
Needless to say in Jan of 1988 I went down and bought a brand new leftover (remember those days?) 1985 Honda Nighthawk 700S at the local dealer. The ride home was the scariest ride of my life even though nothing happened. I obviously still had mental scars and those first few miles really brought them to mind. I have had a few very close incidents since then but have been fortunate that nothing really bad has occurred since. People still ask why I ride and to be honest I tell them because I love it. That says it all.
Ride safe and practice braking on the first ride when winter is over.
Mark, Age 44
I always knew motorcycles were dangerous but I never
had any fear of injury aboard one. I always thought
either I would wreck and walk away or wreck and die,
both of these scenarios I seemed fine with. After
watching Point Break countless times the quote from
Patrick Swayze has always stood out in my mind “It is
not a shame to die doing something you love”. If I had
to choose a way, being aboard a motorcycle would have
to be it. Honestly, how many of us want to have
strokes/heart attacks, live on a ventilator, get
multiple hip relacements just to live a pain riden
So that brings me to my crash, on November 5th of this
year. For once there was a vehicle who was aware of a
motorcycle and he was attempting to change lanes in
order to get out of my way; unfortunately, I had
already begun my lane change to go around him. As luck
would have it we both changed back into the original
lane, we weaved back and forth until impact. I broke
my neck shattering the C4 vertebrae, cracked C1
vertebrae in half, and for good measure tore three
ligaments in the back of my neck. For all intents and
purposes I should be dead, brain dead, or paralyzed. I
somehow rode away in an ambulance and I have suffered
no paralysis and actually no pain besides some
stiffness. Sugery brought me a spinal fusion C3-C5 and
lots of complications. I’m lucky that the only
reminder I have is 2 scars from where my neck has been
pieced together with titanium rods and screws to hold
the ligaments in place. I should be close to 100% by
the end of January ’06 and in a year the bones will be
healed as well as they ever will. The doctors and my
family would be upset if I ever rode again but I still
have a great desire to ride again, for now I just
focus on getting healthy and choices will be made when
the time comes and after a few second opinions.
well… combine a three week old Zx10R (in black), a line of backed up traffic and 5 seconds of inattention and what do you get?
Broken neck, stable crush fracture t5/t6/t7, basal fracture, double cuboid foot fracture, broken nose, mashed up lip (was using back up helmet that day)…
(keys falling out of pocket while in traffic, i glanced down, and as i did someone up the road hit the pedestrian crossing and all the traffic backed up, i ploughed into a Merc A-Class at approx 45mph)
6 days later i’m out of hospital, 9 days after the accident i check myself back in with very big headaches and double vision, turns out i also got nerve damage in my left eye, and also three numb fingers, and a large portion of my face numb also…(secondary injuries tend to take a while to show themselves after the head injuries settle down)…
eye sight got worse to the point where the eye was completely turned in, massive headaches, nausea ensued as did three months of rehabilitation completely on my own, being a single man living far from family has it;’s downsides too 😉
that was on hte 30th august i had my off…
i still have nose problems, i got a big dent in it, htye have to wait a year to operate apparently…and still have long range double vision… and one of my fingers is still numb (no crass jokes here please..lol…)
and the thing people say most to me when i relate my story? “Well i guess that you giving up bikes then”
i always tell them it wasnt the bikes fault… it was circumstance…
this has been a wake up call, a chance to bury hatchets, re-evaluate things… it’s almost been a positive thing for me…
and i’m REALLY digging the 2006 Zx10…. cant wait for summer… i’m a biker, and always will be…
In the Spring of ’86 I was hit from behind at night in the rain at a stop
sign in a little town about 10 miles south of where I lived. Hit and Run
and left in the ditch to die or for dead. I still don’t have any
recollection of the wreck. It was one of those ” One second at a stop sign
waiting on traffic and the next second coming to in a hospital 14 miles away
and a few hours later. Never got the car as the couple of witnesses were
more concerned about getting help for im unconcous body than him. Came out
of it badly sprung but noting broken. Due to the Concussion thru a good
helmet , Probably from the guys windshield, I had a Vertigo problem for
several years and was off bikes for 5 or so years before my balance was good
enough to return to safe riding. That was 7 bikes and some 150,000 miles
ago. Yes a few friends and family wondered if my sanity was destroyed in the
crash but you gotta do what you gotta do.
’43 Andy in SW Louisiana ’00 KLR 650 ’02 R1150GSA
Answering the types of questions of “why” started day 1 from the moment I verbalized thoughts of riding. “Why would you want to ride after what happened to your mother?”
Some background. Many years ago, my mother agreed to, or on her own accord, considered learning to ride. My father had been riding a bit and so she thought she would have a go. Well, simply put, my father was not the best instructor nor was my mother the best pupil. She rev’d the bike, dumped the clutch and in a matter of 20-40 feet managed to mangle herself and the bike.
Fastforward to 1998, nearing my college graduation. Somehow in 21 years, I had never had a bike to ride. Nor did I think much about it. Seemed like a perfectly good graduation gift to myself. Now what to by…enter one Ducati 916. Boy did mom like that idea. As the salesman handed over the keys, the phrase he spoke will never be forgotten; “Well, we will either be scrapping you off the street or we will never get you off a bike.” 18 months of riding with little incident made me realize (hopefully) that it was the latter and that as much as I loved to ride, the 916 was not a do-all bike.
After jumping ship to a BMW R1100S, 4-5 years of riding averaging 10-15k miles a year, incident free, it seemed I might remain one of those riders still awaiting the inevitable crash. By now, I even had track days under my belt and multiple trips of hundreds to thousands of miles, solo-riding at that.
July 2003, trip to WV, usual 8 hour blitz from metro-DC to somewhere better. Second day of riding was very memorable. The next day was memorable as well…for different reasons. We took the same route as the day prior, but the weather was an on-off drizzle of rain. We reached a fork in the road, my riding buddy got sideways and recovered, I was not so lucky. The bike fell to the right spitting me to the ground fast and hard. I slid for 40-50 feet and hopped up to my feet. The bike, unfortunately, wedged itself under a guardrail. So far I thought I fared well given my bike was totaled (later confirmed by the insurance company). It was not until I reached down to try and pull the bike out from under the guardrail did I feel the odd sensation and audible pop from my right shoulder did I realize the collarbone was snapped in two. Long ride in ambulance to hospital, usual drugs, x-rays, and the 4-6 week healing time. 4 weeks to the day of the incident I was riding a new R1100S, feeling as comfortable as always. Heck I even took out an R1150GS Adventure and did some psuedo-motard maneuvers by sliding the rear end.
The questions came flooding in before I even filled out the insurance paperwork…”are you going to ride again?” “how can you get back on a bike?” “are you crazy?”
I knew the moment I was injured, I HAD to get back on a bike. It was a matter of life and death that I get back on and ride. There were some confidence hurdles along the way. But they were well worth it. That first fall armed me with more knowledge than I had previously possessed. And that was a good thing, as a year and a half later, I experienced two more get-offs in two days. Once on my R6…no harm, no foul. A few scuffs and not even a bruised ego. I was actualy laughing at myself for the simple rider error causing bike and rider seperation. The next day was not as pretty. 8 months out of the year, it is hard to get me to drive a car. As such, 99% of my commuting is via bikes. Another bit of poor judgement and once again, rider and bike were seperated. This time, the R1100S (you know, the one that replaced that LAST one). How the insane commuters in DC did not run over and kill me was a miracle. One witness thought for sure I was dead. However, this time, I rolled, while not in the best of riding gear, it did it job. Note to self and others: riding pants have armor in all the right places; every bruise and scrape on my legs could have been avoided with proper riding pants (nevermind that I own 6 pairs).
So you can imagine the influx of questions from those incidents.
So far, another 14 months have passed without incident. Or at least the kind where rider and bike are seperated for reasons other than parking the bike.
This summer, a buddy and I rode cross country for the motoGP races. We managed the ride from DC to Monterey in 3 days. We took the express route. On day 2, in Colorado, just outside of Vail, I managed to have a close encounter with a rock of grapefruit proportions. The good news, it missed the bike. The bad news, it hit my right foot. The foot was broken. It swelled immediately, but boot removal was out of the question. And stopping for medical assistance was also out of the question. There was nothing they would tell me I didn already know. Nor was I going to listen to anything they had to say, like: “you need to stay off your foot and no riding.” Well, as you can imagine, we rode onward. We had a point of destination with an anticipated arrival time. No time for pain.
With the list of moto-related injuries, people close to me, not just strangers, were probably conspiring to have me hauled off to the the psych ward. However, cooler head prevailed and I assured everyone that these experiences were the enrichment to life so many people miss out. You can pass through life and memories turn into fuzzy and vague references. Or you can go out and do something that may scare you, might even be risky. But there is not doubt that for many years to come, I will remember precisely the weather, the scenery, the reason why I was there, and the will to ride after each and every incident. Amazing what pain can do for one’s memory.
Great report there Alex.
Just over 6 years ago I was in a street accident that could have cost me my life. I was hit head on by a young lad driving his car way too fast for the wet conditions. The impact brove the rame of my VFR400R in two, and sent me over the roof of the car via the windshield. After the paramedics had stabilised the situation I was rushed to the ER (casualty or A&E dept. here in Ireland), where I was diagnosed with left femur broken at the shaft and the neck. Pelvis broken in 5 places, right wrist smashed and a stable fracture of the 3rd lumbar vertebra.
So with the aid of various bits of surgical scaffolding I was rebuilt (it took 2 attempts to correct the leg fractures) and face 6 long weeks on my back, unable to move much at all. During this time I had a real scare when I developed pulminary embolisms. This scared the hell out of my mum as she’s a retired nurse, and in her day blood clots in the lungs meant almost inevitable death. Fortunately not there are now clot busting drugs that were able to help me.
Already by this stage I was determined I would ride again. Fortunately I had the support of my mother and (late) father, both of whom ride also. Indeed, just 2 months after release from hospital there was a GSXR600 sitting in my garage waiting for my recovery to be complete. At this stage I couldn’t even lift my left leg high enough to get it on the footpeg, but grim determination (and a lot of swearing) saw me eventually get there.
At no point in time did I ever consider not riding again. Sure, a lot of people let me know they considered me insane (including a 40-a-day smoker), but as I explained to them, riding bikes is what I do. It’s part of me, like breathing, eating and walking. Riding is a totally unique experience and gives me a feeling I can’t get anywhere else (well, not legally).
All in all, it was 11 months from my crash till the first time I rode again. Since then my outlook on life has become a lot more positive. I’m more of a go getter. My annual mileage has increased dramatically to include various trips to mainland europe for MotoGP races, and has even included two riding holidays in the USA. In october past I spent 2 wonderful weekends riding with American friends in California.
Ride safe, but please keep riding.
In October 2000 I had double knee replacement. There is usually a year minimum recovery time for this surgery. With the carrot of riding dirtbikes again I worked hard at therapy and convinced the Doctor that I was ready to start riding again after six months (understanding Doctor).
The Sunday (April 1st, 2001) before to first ride outing the next weekend, after a round of golf, I decided to run my dirtbike down the street to be sure it would be ready to go. As luck would have it, a car pulled out in front of me and I had to lay the bike over. I ripped the incision on my right knee open from top to bottom.
One of the major concerns with any kind of joint replacement is infection. I spent a night in the hospital receiving heavy antibiotics and a few weeks sweating whether infection would set in or not, not thank God.
It was like starting my recovery all over, but in about three months I was back riding dirtbikes with a vengeance. Had it not been for the draw of riding I’m sure I would not have worked so hard at recovery and not gotten along as well as I did. All my non-riding friends and relatives think I am nuts to still ride but they don’t see the underlying gain that I do.
On another note, the first time I rode my streetbike after the accident, I was scared to death. I immediately put the streetbike on consignment and sold it. A couple of years ago, I bought another streetbike and now own two of them plus my dirtbikes and do not have the apprehension of street riding I had immediately after the accident.
I have always been a recreational rider, on the dirt and street. In February of 2004 I bought a 98 RM250, and on March 12 I was out doing some trail riding with my friend. We were cruising along in 5th gear when a small jump came up, so I slowed down to 4th and prepared to launch. I think every rider knows the exact instant when something goes wrong and pain is inevitible, and that instant for me was halfway up the face of the jump. I hit a big washed out ledge on the top of the ramp and was sent straight over the handlebars. I prepared for impact and tried to roll when I hit the ground, but I don’t think anything could have saved my arm that day.
I ended up with a compound, well 2 compound fractures in my left forearm. My bone was protruding from the skin when the ambulance showed up and the EMT proceeded to pump me full of morphine. Just to keep the story short, I was in and out of hospitals for the next 8 monthes for a bone infection, internal plates, external pins and rods, and I.V. medications. I had to sell 3 motorcycles during those monthes since I couldn’t work, and I racked up an amazing $80,000 in medical bills. That was my $82,000 RM250, ha.
A few short monthes after recovery I picked up my brand new DL650, another great Suzuki product. Once again disaster struck, I was ran off the road in Southern Missouri by a large truck on a twisty road. The bike was totaled and I was left with only scrapes and bruises, lucky this time. The bike is all fixed now and is back on the road everyday the temperature is above 40 F.
4 days back I bought a CRF250X and I enjoy it very much. Much like the article you wrote I get strange reactions from people who do not ride motorcycles. But every person that has had, currently has, or once had a motorcycle knows exactly why we keep riding. It is just a feeling of freedom, power, and fun whenever and whatever you ride. That is why we ride, today, tomorrow and forever.
As a former CRA racer and very active Track Day participant, I felt that I
had a pretty good grasp of how to ride a sportbike fast around a track. I
had crashed the year before at somewhere between 90-120mph (guesswork based
on gear and rpm) and just slid down the track. Lots of sore muscles, but
that was about it.
The day of my big crash was beautiful. Wonderful Minnesota weather, lots of
track day participants, a happy wife with me on her way out to work one of
the corners. I knew the owner of the track day business and was going to be
helping to instruct several newer riders that day. Due to a very high
turnout, I had about 20 “students”, running in three different classes.
The day started out fine, running around the track with a couple of groups
and having a great time. I had come it to get gas and head out to chase one
of my friends and upcoming fast-guy type racers around the track. On my way
back out the the track, I had just stood up on the pegs to straighten out my
leathers and get everything *situated*. Upon sitting back in the seat, I
encountered a rise in the asphalt that sent my wife’s 2003 ZX-6 into the
nastiest of nasty tank slappers that I had ever experienced.
I remember thinking, “Huh, this really sucks, I have absolutely NO control”.
I remember veering into the grass and that’s the last thing I remember.
Unknown to me, I had veered off and hit a culvert. I flew about 60 feet and
landed on my head. The bike was about another 15′ past me.
I woke up sometime after that, laying on my right side in a somewhat fetal
position. My left hand was in front on my face, just outside my visor. I
had that ringing in my head like when you bonk your head, but worse. It was
after a few seconds that I realized that I couldn’t move my hand. Or my
arm. Or my legs. Or anything. Complete paralysis.
I tried not to completely freak out, but simply to catch my breath and
figure out what was going on. As I had crashed on the way *out* to the
track – there were no corner workers in sight and I was alone. I was also
down an embankment from the track (BIR) strait away – so I was pretty
After a seeming eternity, I began to get some tingling sensation back in my
hand…then my arms, then I could wiggle my feet. I was extemely dizzy and
disoriented. It’s probably because of that that I proceeded to remove my
helmet. I tried to stand, but fell over. I finally got to my knees and
started waving at the riders going by on the track in front of me. Anyone
familiar with BIR in Minnesota knows that the front strait is very, very
fast. I really had no idea if anyone saw me.
Finally, I saw a very good racer friend of mine coming reverse track down
the track entrance. He came flying up and asked me if I was okay. I told
him that I wasn’t and he went and got the ambulance. I got my leathers cut
off, strapped to the board and taken to the hospital. At the hospital, I
started speaking in incomprehensible sentences, though I thought I was
saying things. Example, “My leg hurts” came out as “picnic bread basket”.
Very weird what your brain does sometimes.
After scans, it was discovered that I had broken the spineous process off C6
and broken C7 in two places. If you were to turn the vertebrae from
horizontal to vertical – I broke it at about 8:00 and 4:00. I was then
ambulanced to a more *full featured* hospital in a town far, far away. At
least that’s how it seemed feeling every single bump in the road and being
stuck in Labor Day traffic for twice as long as it should have taken.
It turns out I was about 1mm from being “in a wheelchair rather than a neck
brace” as my friendly neurologist told me. 5 days in the hospital, two
weeks immobilized at home, 8 weeks without driving, about 100 hours off
work, about $40K+ in medical bills (thank God for medical insurance and a
flexible, understanding boss). Months of recovery, weight recovery (lost
about 20 lbs and I wasn’t big to begin with), tingling body parts, etc.
In all, I have made a full recovery. I still get some slight tingling in my
fingers sometimes, but nothing serious. The spring and fall weather changes
make my neck sore, but I can deal with that. I thank God for my recovery.
It was so much strain on my job, my life, my wife, everything. I can’t
imagine how much different things would be now if that 1mm wasn’t there.
I haven’t spent much time on a sportbike since. I haven’t been back out on
the track. I did have a Yamaha Venture for the street, but recently sold
that (for reasons other than the crash). I have a WR450F, and my wife has a
TTR-125. We still cruise around on our dirt bikes and will likely rent a
bike for the street should we want to. The crash definitely slowed me down
though – something I never thought would happen. In my over 15 years of
riding, I have had over 25 bikes and have really lived the *passion* of
motorcycling. I still love them, but have a firmer appreciation for
everything else in my life after it was almost taken away.
Godspeed to all those who were not as fortunate and all you racers – keep it
up! I love watching now, just not participating out there with you.
Lastly, Wes Good – you’re the man. I owe you a lot!
EPRC Track Day Volunteer
Nice article Alex. I can relate.
I’m a 53 year retired naval aviator, who travels extensively across the nation in the gas pipeline construction business. About two years ago, after a 29 year layoff from riding, I bought an aprilia SL mille to trailer with me around the country so I could enjoy Sunday rides in some spectacular countryside.
A year ago I had a minor get off caused by misjudging my speed entering a left hand corner. Other than a few bruises, including my ego, I was fine. I spent last winter, and several thousand dollars, customizing that aprilia, getting ready for the next riding season. After completing all the mods on my bike, just this past May, I was on the first ride of the season in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. I was number 9 of 10 riders enjoying a Sunday afternoon, when I came around a blind, uphill right hander and encountered several riders down. I grabbed too much brake, stood the bike up, and ended up in an eight foot bar ditch on the far side of the turn. I fractured my left wrist and torn a few tendons, which required two surgeries to repair.
I contemplated giving up riding, but just this past October, I bought a Moto Guzzi LeMans and am now continuing to enjoy myself. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess, but I feel like my two get offs have made me a much safer, and wise rider, and I look forward to many more years of riding enjoyment.
I had an injury 2 seasons ago that made me think of why I keep doing this at
my age (42) and then made me realize why not. I took up road racing several
seasons ago and after going through the routine of getting my CCS FUSA
license I took my GSXR-750 up to Loudon, NH thinking I was going to conquer
the world. Well after a low side in turn 6 and watching my bike do endos I
realized I had bitten off more than I could chew with that bike at that
track as a newbie. So I put it back on the street and bought an FZR 400 to
learn the track and racing. After a couple of seasons making half the
weekends and getting mediocre results I decided to take an advanced rider
course. The instructor had us walk the track and gave a ton of info on where
to save time and shave seconds but reminded us that we could only work on
one alteration at a time. I forgot the last part and when I took to the
track I felt better than I had ever felt. It was a perfect day. The sun
drenched the track with temps in the mid 70’s. I felt like king kong on my
little bike and as we were suppose to be lapping at 80% I felt so good that
I didn’t hold back and after a couple of riders on 600’s got past me on the
straight I was determined to repass on the corners. Totally neglecting the
braking markers and taking a new angle to turn one it turned into a blind
corner where I was heavy on the brakes as it approached faster than ever.
Turning and braking hard didn’t mix and I wound up lo-siding hard. After the
sliding and scrapping up the nascar banking I finally came to a stop
seemingly uninjured with only the wind knocked out of me. After the
instructor came over to remind me how heavy braking and turning don’t mix I
could hardly pay attention to how I just couldn’t catch my breath. So I sat
in the ambulance at the track for a while to see if I could regain my
composure. They insisted on taking me to the hospital, but when I thought of
all my stuff at the track and being there alone I sucked it up and walked
away (dumbass). I spent the rest of the day just observing and taking advil
like they were skittles. finally made the ride home and told my wife I
didn’t feel great but seemed well enough to just go to bed and lick my
wounds in the morning. After unloading my truck the next morning and
reviewing damages to the FZR I was still experiencing shortness of breath
and as the day went on it didn’t get any better. So after my wife used the
example that if she was blowing off a lump in her chest that I would be pist
we went to the emergency room. Turns out I collapsed a lung and the doc told
me that if I had waited another night I most likely would have died in my
sleep because as my chest cavity was filling with air and my lung shrinking
it would eventually cut off circulation to my heart. WTF. Next thing I know
he was shoving a tube in my left side and I spent 4 days there feeling like
an idiot. From then on my wife insists that I get checked out after any
crash but she still supports my racing and motorcycling. I have thought long
and hard about doing something else for kicks but every time I see or hear a
bike I think about the track and how I love everything about the sport. It
makes me feel unique in a world of being homogeneous. I love the speed and
the people, the camaraderie, and the preparation, the athleticism and the
perfect melding of man and machine. One of the few things that I am truly
passionate about aside from my family. So why quit.
Alex, I must say I identified with the story very well. I’ve been riding dirtbikes since the tender age of 4 years old, now at the age of 35 and still racing motocross and lots of play riding I’ve compiled quite a list of booboos, stating w/ a broken arm at 12. I went quite a long time before the next big crash (1993), a crash that put me in the hospital for a week with a shattered right ankle, broken left heal, broken collar bone, fractured wrist, broke both my big toes, concussion and severely bruised ego. Needless to say i didn’t get back on a motocross track for 7 years, instead dabbling in other things like 4-wheelers and jetskis. About 6 years ago the bug got me again and returned to my first love and have been going at it since. In that time I have broken my left tibia (2001, without even crashing), right wrist(2003), right wrist again(2004) and last but not least severly dislocated my right shoulder that required surgury to fix and surgury to fix collar bone brake from big crash in 1993. I had to answer the dreaded question many times this year, ARE YOU DONE WITH MOTOCROSS NOW ?, I have to say that my time has not come yet, maybe stupidity plays a small role but it is what i love to do, and its not something i can give up so easily. Perhaps its time to ease down some and spend more time play riding w/ freinds and more time riding my FZ1, after all, its not what i make a living doing, but the dirt tracks will forever be calling, unless somebody steps with a Supermoto series in central New york. Until then, my CRF450 will be adorned with knobbies. Happy holidays and my the roost fly high.
I don’t believe I’m any different than anyone who has a passion for riding motorcycles. I remember my first year riding and a talk show host named Bruce Williams crashed his airplane, later explaining that the occasional pilot is in the most danger because of the many hazards…”Those hazards can kill a rusty pilot”. Applying that same thinking to motorcycle riding, I made it a point to ride everywhere. Dropping the bike several times taking a lesson from every fall, (example: sugar sand, warming the bike up on an incline and walking away) thinking that I wanted to be a good enough rider to handle anything coming my way. My first near miss was after a police car in high speed pursuit came off a blind street to the right. I did not realize that the front tire could skid, and this quickly taught me that I have more to learn so off to motorcycle school I went. Here the lessons learned could be explained by a professional rider not to mention the students brought up some excellent questions. The 2nd week of class my teacher was struck by a car coming to class maybe teaching me maybe the most important lesson, “It can happen to you no matter how good a rider you are”. The teacher did suffer a broken leg but from my understanding he is still riding. On February 7 1996 after changing out my brake pads I failed to refill the dot4 brake master cylinder. The brakes were at about 70% normal but this day I needed 110% and I did a low side into a car. Lesson learned, if the bike is not 100% it is not to be ridden PERIOD. My last crash came when I hi-sided into a truck, another lesson learned the hard way. On a cold morning with cold tires and cold brake pads grabbing a hand full of brake will put you down very quickly. I wish I could jump up and down saying to everyone reading this, Your tires are not up to spec until after a mile on a cold day. In fact I make it a point to ride like it was my first time on a bike the first 2 miles when it is below 45 degrees. One of the best ways to avoid a hi or low side when cold, applly the brakes slowly the first time maybe adding a second to your normal braking routine (if possible) and from me to you it is possible if you train yourself I do it all the time. Note to ABS motorcycle riders. Yes you may hi-side even if you have ABS so don’t think that it can’t happen to you. The officer that was at my crash says he has seen several ABS motorcycles that have hi-sided when cold. Have fun but be careful out there.
2002 VFR 800
Since 1990, 219,000 riding miles
When someone asks “Still riding?”, ask them if they would quit having sex if they had a bad experience.
If they reply “Its not the same.” Just smile and say “Isn’t it”?
Where do I begin? I have been riding since 1966. I am 47 years old and probably have more of a passion to ride today as I did in my younger years!
I have crashed and broken bones roadracing in the mid to late eighties and have been racing and riding offroad for the past 13 years. Most recently (May 05) I broke my right arm, both bones, right above the wrist. They fixed me up with a titanium plate and 8 stainless screws. This incedent happend at Millville (Springcreek, MN) All is well and I was back riding within 7 weeks! In May of 2004, I fell on my left elbow and dislocated my left shoulder. It took the doc, a nurse and my buddy who is 6’5″ and weighs 255 lbs to put it back in place. After that I had to reconstructive surgury to repair a shattered bone 3 rotator cuff muscles and repair the tendend to the bicep. This was a very serious injury and was not sure how recovery would be. With a bunch of rehab, I was riding by September.
I currently have 13 motorcycles of various size, shape and nature. I still enjoy my ST1300 for sport touring with my wife of 25 years. Yes, she still lets me ride!
After about 20 years of accident free riding I thought I was the
exception to the rule. Then this past summer I had two nearly identical
accidents. Both caused by a car running a stop sign and me jamming on
the brakes (panic stop) thus locking the front wheel causing the bike to
go down. In neither case did I come in contact with the car.
In the first accident I got a broken rib, sprained ankle, road rash, and
some bruises (not wearing my cycle jacket or boots). In the second just
bruises (wearing my jacket and boots). The damage to the motorcyle was
nearly identical in both crashes.
The accidents didn’t make me quit riding, but I did come to the
conclusion that if I had ABS I would probably not have gone down in
either encounter. So, I went out and bought a 2003 Honda ST1300 ABS.
Riders must ride. In about 1970 I had a bad accident in the mountains west of Boulder Colorado. I hit a hidden rock too fast on my Zundapp ISDT Replica and sailed off the edge of a mountain 4WD road, landing in a boulder field, tumbling and coming to rest 150 feet down the steep mountain side. I got up. My shoulder was sagging so I knew I was hurt. Later x-rays revealed a cracked vertebrae, split collar bone and an injured knee. Other riders said my first words were, “I wonder how long this will keep me off motorcycles.”
A few years ago, after the age of sixty, I stiff-legged a rock while cornering in sand in the Southeastern Utah desert. I heard the bone crack. I didn’t fall. The pain was intense for a few moments. When our group of three stopped to check our map a few miles later I got off my bike and said I had cracked a leg bone. They didn’t believe me. With help, I got back on the bike and rode 40 miles to Blanding where I stayed in a motel. The next morning, with help, I got back on my motorcycle and rode 300 miles home to Colorado. My wife is handicapped so I drove myself to the emergency room. X-rays revealed a 6 inch split in my tibia and various cracks and chips in the knee joint. I declined a cast, walked on crutches for 6 weeks, hopping around the kitchen on one foot to fix meals. Then back on a motorcycle.
That winter I was riding snow on a frozen lake at 11,000 foot altitude on a mesa near where I live. Momentarily blinded by the setting sun, I rode onto bare ice. I went down on one knee but not very hard. I felt no pain. But the knee didn’t work right and I couldn’t pick up my DR650 on the ice. Finally, a passing family saw me in the middle of the frozen lake and came out to help. By then I couldn’t walk without help. After pushing my bike off the lake, they helped me on and I rode the twenty miles home, then crawled up my wife’s handicap-access ramp to get into the house and retrieve my crutches. I didn’t think I broke anything. I tried walking on it for two weeks before going in for X-rays. I had split the other tibia about 2 inches and busted up that knee joint. Testing revealed that I have a serious bone density problem — almost osteoporosis.
I healed slower than before and couldn’t wait to ride. I rode, even in the winter, with crutches strapped on my back. I rode as far as Moab, Utah, to have lunch with a friend. I remember getting a thumbs-up from a truck driver on I-70.
Now, at age 67, I have quit riding 4WD trails because of my bone density problem but I still ride 20,000 to 25,000 miles each year, mostly on multi-purpose motorcycles ( KLR650, R1150GS and DL650). I ride many miles of unpaved roads in western Colorado and eastern Utah, usually fast, sometimes at speeds up to 100MPH indicated on good unpaved roads. I do it because I love doing it. I also took up sport bike riding after the age of 60 and attended 4 track schools. One of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
Is my story unusual? I don’t think so. Like other riders I ride because I love to ride. It’s my life. It’s how I resist succumbing to age. Accidents are incidents. In my mind, the possibility of injury has little to do with whether or not I should ride. As long as my reflexes are good, my judgment quick, I will ride if I can get on a motorcycle.
My personal motorcycle web pages begin with this statement, “…a longtime motorcyclist who rides for the symbiotic relationship of rider and machine, the dynamics of motorcycle handling, the sensory perception of a powerful engine and the immense pleasure of a well-designed, single-track vehicle speeding over lonely roads to beautiful places. ”
Hi Alex –
Here’s a little story.
Steve was on a Honda VFR750, Tim was on an Kawasaki EX500 and I as on my
Kawasaki Ninja 750 (the GPX750F Model). We were out riding some back
roads in Northern California farmland, great roads with little or no
traffic, long straights and good twisties. Well about 2 hours into our
ride we are at a good pace and riding confidence was high. We were
keeping good distance from each other, but I had pulled away a little
and was probably 1/4 mile ahead at this point. That Ninja 750 had a
killer motor. Handled like the devil, but had an angelic motor. Well,
this particular stretch of road we had not ridden before. I was doing
about 100 mph and approached what appeared to be wide flat left hander
and I went diving in there at about 80mph. To my immediate surprise, as
soon as I hit the apex, about two seconds after I was immediately off
the road to the right and was fighting like hell to keep the bike up. I
finally lost control of and went flying over the bars and rolled down
the road about 40 yards or so. It was crazy, I remember just tumbling
and tumbling and hoping I don’t hit anything. Turns out the curve had a
decreasing radius and I had run out of road at about 70 miles an hour in
a mud filed ditch next to a barb wire fence (there had been a huge
rainstorm the night before). The bike had sunk down in this ditch was up
to the carbs in mud and could not be pulled out. I was not injured one
scratch in this crash. My helmet was beat up, my gloves torn and my
jacket a mess. My bike had no major damage, just a lot of lower fairing
scratches from all the mud. There was no apparent structural damage and
I rode it home from the crash, full of mud with a grin on my face. It
was a miracle. My riding buddies later said that I all they saw was a
black dot (me) and then a dust cloud. I don’t know were the dust was
because I was all muddy and soaking wet. Well, one week later I am
riding home from work on the same bike, all cleaned up; I let off the
handle bars to stretch my back, not knowing the steering axle was
slightly bent from the previous crash. It was bent so slightly that it
was not noticeable with the hands on the bars. The bike went into the
worst tank-slapper at a meager 20mph or so. I could not control it at
all and I fell to the asphalt and landed full force on both my
knees…WHAM! I could not walk for over a week. I missed my semester
finals at the local Junior College, and was on crutches for a while. It
was awful. And the bike had about $1500.00 dollars in damage.
I am very fortunate to have a great family. They have never questioned
me about getting back on the bike. All they wanted to know was that I
was OK. I think it’s important for a mother to worry a little, or a
father to have his concerns, but it should not prevent them from
trusting. Their trust and confidence despite the concerns are what
really make you a success in life, let alone riding motorcycles.
None of these crashes made me want to stop riding motorcycles. In fact
it is the opposite. The first reaction is DAMN!! I wreaked my bike. The
second is, can I still ride this thing. The third is, do I have the
money to fix it.
I have had other crashes and I believe they have made me a better rider
and given me more confidence because I have learned from my mistakes.
It would be a terrible way to live life to only do things that are 100%
safe. There would be no risk, no hope, and no goals. There would only be
weakness because there would be no gauge from strength, perseverance and
challenge. How can you measure your success if you don’t push the
Motorcycling brings so much good out of a person too. It makes you
alert, attentive, and perceptive.
It makes you care about what’s around you, it makes you defensive, and
it forces you to judge correctly.
There are many logical reasons why to ride from cost of ownership, fuel
But the most important thing is that it is fun, and that’s why I ride
and will always get back on as long as I’m able.
Motorcycling is freedom…and when you get that in your blood, there is
no turning back.
Thanks for a great magazine.
I would have a few stories, but my wife has a better/worse one. We were about 450 miles into a 600 mile day when a deer removed her from her bike. It had come out of the ditch and avoided me, fell down trying to avoid my daughter on her bike and when it got up it tried to jump over my wife’s bike. It only cleared the windshield, hitting her on her upper left side. That unseated her from the bike and they went down with her foot caught under a saddlebag. Either the impact with the deer or the road had knocked her out and the entire mess was sliding down the highway, when the saddlebag detached from the bike it released her and the bike continued sliding until it caught on the shoulder of the road, the dead deer ended up about fifty feet further on down in the ditch. She was unconscious when we got to her and not breathing, we were in cell phone heck as we couldn’t get a signal. We got her breathing before we got through, they dispatched a ground ambulance from a nearby town and Mayo 1 the air ambulance from Rochester, the ground ambulance got there first and with them there must have been 10 EMTs working on her. I had never seen so many respondents to a single vehicle accident, they had a major highway closed for almost two hours.
She suffered four broken ribs, punctured lung, multiple fractures to the collarbone, broken shoulder blade, torn rotator cuff, torn bicep, road rash on both knees and the top of her left foot, broken big toe on the right foot and a traumatic brain injury. She had on a Nolan helmet that saved her life, the helmet did take a beating. She had on a First Gear jacket that saved all her skin from the hips up. She wore through multiple layers of leather to get the road rash on the top of her foot, she had taken off her chaps because of the heat and if she stil would have had them on they may have saved some of the rash on her knees and foot.
She got a 40 mile ambulance ride to the Mayo Clinic where she was hospitalized for the next 27 days. Four surgeries and a skin graft later she came home. While she was recuperating at home, she would hear motorcycles go by on the highway below us and she would cry because she couldn’t ride. We picked up her new bike two weeks after she got home, she could not get it off the side stand at the time. One month after that we took a 60 mile ride. The next Saturday we went 200 miles. She put on 3400 miles before we stopped so that I could have surgery on my neck. We will be riding to Alaska next summer and with normal riding, she should put on better than 20K miles in ’06. Not bad for a recovering wreck that lives in Minnesota.
When people asked her if she would ride again, her response was the same as yours, “Why wouldn’t I?” The most amazing part of this is four years ago she didn’t even want a ride on my bike, since then she got her own, was on her second and had accumulated about 40K miles of riding.
She has a new Nolan helmet, new First Gear jackets and a custom fit pair of Aerostich Darien pants and she won’t ride without any of them.
I rode motorcycles for around twenty years. I started when I was five and quit (not my choice) when I was twenty-six. There were a couple of times along the way that I swore off bikes and said I would never ride again, but that was because I was in a lot of pain at the time.
I started racing MX when I was in high school and raced for about four years without getting seriously injured. Then came the fifth and sixth years. During those two years I took three rides to the hospital in the back of an ambulance. The third trip was at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee when I broke my Femur. That was the worst pain I have ever been in and to make matters worse my lungs collapsed during surgery and I almost kicked the bucket. After getting a shiny new stainless steel rod put in my leg and six months on crutches I decided to give up riding forever. Yeah right! It only took about a year for me to forget all about the broken femur and I decided it was time to quench my need for speed once again. This time however, I went in a different direction and decided to give the street a try and there was a brand spanking new black Ninja 600 at the local Kawasaki shop calling my name. So, after learning (almost the hard way) that you don’t stick your leg out and weight the outside part of the seat to turn a sport bike I started to really enjoy hitting the twisty’s (East Tennessee mountains). Every Sunday was a blast when I would get together with several of my buddies and storm up Highway 421 from Elizabethton to Mountain City. About one year later though came the second reason for swearing off motorcycles forever. A buddy and I were riding to the airport to pick up his girlfriend. He was on a brand new (had it for five days) Honda CBR 600 and I was on my Ninja 600. We were on this long straightaway and he motioned for us to pass the slow string of traffic in front of us. I nodded to go for it and we pulled out and proceeded to pass. There wasn’t anything coming the other way so we had plenty of time to make the pass of about six cars. Everything was fine until we got up to the second car in line who decided to pass the lead car without checking his blind spot first. The last thing I remember about the crash itself is seeing my buddy go down while grasping for the side of the car trying to keep himself up. My next memory is waking up on my back on the side of the road with my buddy leaning over me asking me if I was alright. I had quite a bit of blood on my helmet that my buddy was really concerned about and for good reason too…it was his. Somehow during the crash I landed on him and got his blood on me. He received massive amounts of road rash and a broken leg. I also received a broken leg and a concussion, but no road rash. I also had a little amnesia for awhile which is a scary feeling for sure.
Anyway that little incident kept me off bikes for about another year until the bug bit me again. I decided to return to my roots and hit the dirt once again. I purchased a used Honda CR 500 and started riding in the mountains. I had a little desire to race again, but thought better of it. I didn’t keep the big CR long before I sold it. I never got a chance to ride again because I broke my neck on March 13th, 1993 and became a Quadriplegic. It was during the blizzard of 93 when it happened. We had about three feet of snow on the ground and my cousin and I were turning flips off of a stump into the snow. Somehow I landed the wrong way and my life was changed forever. I never imagined I could get hurt in three feet of fresh snow. I always imagined that a motorcycle crash might get the best of me but not a freak accident like that.
Anyway, time to bring this novel to an end. I don’t get to ride anymore, but I still remember the good days when I did and I still enjoy reading about bikes and all the cool new models coming out each year. Motorcycle Daily is one of the first places I hit every day. It’s a good no nonsense mix of reviews, race results, and stories. Keep up the good work guys and keep the rubber right side up!
Alex, long time reader–Thanks for your daily zine. I read it daily.
A Fast Chick’s First Experience with a “Lapper”
I had heard stories about how dangerous lappers were, but until I ‘ran’ into my own did it really hit home. After several years of racing I finally was fast enough and aggressive enough to be running with the intermediate guys racing off-road motorcycles in Northern California. Then came an inaugural “all woman” race. I knew this race would draw some of the best women out of the woodwork, so I had to hit it. I’m a very smart and cautious rider. The only time I’ve been hurt thus far was on a crowded mx track in Marysville, CA at night when two faster riders passed me on both sides of me only to have one of them take out my front tire when we landed off a tabletop. But my bike saw more damage than I did. Anyway, so I line up, take a good look at my competition on the “A” line and I knew I was one of two fastest gals there. I got the holeshot, missed some course markings and took a wrong turn then the other fastest gal got in front of me. I got back into my groove and followed her. I’ve learned over the years that it’s much easier to follow someone than to lead them and feel that pressure. I also wanted to see how fast she was since I’ve never raced her, so I followed her knowing I would just blip around her sometime before the end of the race. We were on our second lap now and all my attention was focused on watching her and the trail ahead. We were passing lots of lappers which was cool and good practice I don’t get enough of. I was looking down the trail ahead of the lead gal to negotiate what was coming. We were racing up a slightly off-camber trail near a fence on the right so I naturally went for the best line for the entire hill. Then all I remember is a small Honda coming from my right and hooking bars with me. I don’t remember anything after that except that the other gal was saying there was a ton of blood all over my face. I was trying to sit up and my helmet felt like a million pounds. I couldn’t breathe. The gal that collided with me tried to get me to stand. I was in no shape ready to stand. I just wanted to sit hunched over and let the blood run straight out my helmet opening. The EMTs got there in short order and got the helmet off and put me on a stretcher. I could hear crackling in my chest and in my back. Like a potato chip bag every time I tried to take a small breath of air. Every movement on the stretcher was painful. The bumpy ride to the hospital was less than enjoyable, but I had no idea that the emergency room was going to shoot me up with morphine until I puked. Purple Gatorade probably still stains the halls of that emergency room in Sacramento. It hurt to hurl, but the morphine was making me do it, I had no choice. By the time it was all said and done, the gal stitched up my forehead which I think took 14 stitches. No scar to this day I might add. Several broken ribs front and back and a small puncture in my lung which gave them the excuse to keep me in the hospital for observation for three days. Thankfully, I was able to hold off that chest tube they kept wanting to shove in my side.
Come to find out — the gal I tangled with was a first time hare scrambles racer. She didn’t know to keep her line. She apologized profusely and she felt bad, but it’s not her fault. Then I watched the video of the start rows. All of us were on the same 5 mile course at the same time. From “A” level women riders to the first time racer. The last row (first-timers) were in first gear until the first corner. It’s not their fault, I’m glad they’re out there racing, but had I known that BEFORE I started I would have known to expect ANYTHING when passing a first time racer. Lesson learned the hard way.
But all the guys I worked with at the time were just amazed I didn’t sell the bike right then and there. I tell them–It’s not the bike’s fault!
I had three more rounds in the District 36 enduro championship before the end of the year. So I had to keep racing within two weeks of my injuries. I couldn’t go fast and hard, but I finished the season and took the championship that year in the B 200cc class in enduros. It took everything I had to hang in there and I probably would have healed faster if I didn’t keep aggravating it by racing. But you can’t turn off the competitiveness of it all.
I’m still out there kicking butt when I can — I won the Oregon off-road cross country championship for 2005 in the 200cc Amateur class against the guys.
La Pine, Oregon
I don’t know why I keep riding, I guess after 20 years on the street and a few in the dirt as a kid before that, it has become part of who I am. I can’t imagine not having a bike and I have not gone a season without one since I was 16. I did had a few crashes when I was a teenager on my XL350 dualsport, on and off the road, mostly low sides with only my pride being injured.
“The Big One” for me was in 1994. I had just put a new pipe and front suspension on my Hawk gt and took her out for my first ride of the season. Now the rest is hearsay, because I do not remember a thing! Apparently, I left a friend’s house after showing off my new mods and hit about 3rd or 4th gear, and that is when things went silent. My friends thought I had missed a gear and in embarrassment shut it down.
A little girl playing in her front yard found me in a twisted ball in the ditch. Her parents called an ambulance, and being from a community where everyone knows everyone, called my folks as well. I was conscious when the ambulance came, talking and joking, but again, I don’t remember. I had a grade 2 concussion, two dislocated shoulders, two badly skinned knees and something seriously wrong with my right thumb; which although it was not broken, needed a cast and six weeks to heal.
From what we could tell, I hit a pot hole at approximately 90 mph, (yes I know!!), and went into a speed wobble caused by the added height from the new front springs, (I lowered the front later and it was fine!). During the speed wobble I hit another large pot hole, (they grow them big here in Nova Scotia!), and low sided. While sliding the bike then high sided and flung me head first into the pavement, ruining my new black Shoei with custom Marvin Martian paint, and sent me tumbling into the ditch.
After 11 years now I am still sore. I am employed as a Customs Officer and whenever I re-certify in Use of Force training my shoulders always get pulled out of their sockets. I cannot even describe the pain!! Because of my accident my rotator cuffs are messed up permanently. I also have a bad right thumb which goes numb on long rides and is hyper sensitive to hot and cold. Nerve damage they call it. That brings me to my knees….After 20+ years of atv, dirt bikes and now motorcycle mishaps, they are messed up. My supersport riding days are over now, as my knees cannot tolerate a racer’s crouch for more than a half hour. Thank god to Suzuki for producing the Bandit!! I am now considering a KLR 650 as it is really comfortable for my knees and will allow me to get on the trails with my son as well.
Why in the world do I still ride then?? Why did I my son a JR 50 this year, so he can go out and hurt himself as well????
I guess some of the best times, and best momories I have are while riding. I rode off road with my father and uncle as a teen and have some really great memories, getting stuck falling off and having them laugh at me, and returning the favor when it happend to them. Riding to 60 miles to work for a night shift at 11pm on a summer night looking at the stars and breathing the summer night’s air. Riding 100 miles home with some friends in a raging rainstorm, freezing and wet, but loving every minute! Going for coffee and chatting for hours with some stranger you have nothing in common with other than two wheels. It can be social, spiritual and highly personal, it becomes part of your personality, your soul.
I guess that while the non-riders are right, motorcycling can take your life……………it also gives you life!!!
Thats why I ride!
P.S. I have slowed down, grown up….a little, and have been accident free since “the big one”!
Nova Scotia, Canada
On July 19th, 1992 I was trail riding with friends in
the Ocala National Forest in Florida where I grew up.
We had ridden there many times before and had never
encountered problems. There are tons of
trails/loops/single track but they are not set up to
be directional(meaning you can ride either way on
My group had been out all morning without seeing any
other riders. WE had gone back to the trucks,
re-filled our gas tanks and were about thirty minutes
into our second loop. It was now around noon. I was
leading my group of 3 other riders and the pace had
picked up a bit. I came around a blind corner and met
another group coming in the opposite direction at
speed. A KX500 and an old 3-wheeler were side by side,
taking up the whole width of the trail racing to the
next corner. Each of the groups were traveling at
about 40mph. AS we each reached the apex of the corner
we hit. I had full protection gear on (full face
helmet, gloves,mx-boots,racing pants with plastic
knee/shin guards, chest protector). The KX500 rider
had only a full face helmet on with jeans, a t-shirt
and work boots.
I impacted the KX500 rider, HARD. I had no where to
go, I somehow got up off the bike from a sitting
position at the last second. My right shoulder(covered
with a Hallman mach 5 chest protector) hit the other
guy right in the face. Can you say close-lined! I
ended up on the ground 30 feet past the point of
impact. The impact was so violent that my strapped
helmet came completely off my head leaving the
backsides of my ears raw and oozing blood from the
abrasions. I ended up with a badly shattered open left
femur. The ends of the shards of broken bone went
right through my broken kneecap(in 3 pieces) and split
the JT knee protector and were sticking out through my
skin. My left wrist and right thumb were also broken
from the handlebars being torn from my hands. My
friends later said that the front brake disc on my
bike penetrated the metal of the front rim on the KX
by a couple of inches. The front forks of both bikes
were bent back up underneath the frames. My handle
bars were trashed. The left side, which my femur had
probably hit, was pointing straight up in the air.
I was much more lucky than the other fella. He ended
up underneath both bikes right at the point of impact.
His face was completely smashed. Cheeks, nose, jaw and
his entire lower set of teeth had ripped through the
skin below his lip. He was also knocked out for a few
minutes. One of his arms was severely broken (laying
backwards from halfway between his wrist and elbow,
with the bones sticking out), he also had a broken
leg. He was a real mess! He finally came to and began
screaming. Everyone did their best to try and keep him
calm. His head injury/concussion made him keep
forgetting what had happened. He would keep waking up
screaming for someone to help him each time he came
to, even though we had explained it to him several
times. It was a pretty ugly scene.
I have been an EMT since 1987 and a Paramedic since
1989. I was the only person there with first aid
skills. I tried my best to keep everyone calm and
continue to evaluate my own injuries. I was afraid to
move and was beginning to really hurt. I told one of
my buddies to get to a phone and make sure to convey
just how bad this accident(loss of consciousness and
open bone fracture’s) was and to get a chopper into us
pronto and to be certain of how the trails led to us!
If they didn’t have knowledge of the woods layout like
they did, we would have been in much more trouble than
we already were. I can imagine a truly grim outcome if
my pals weren’t there with me.
WE were 16 miles from the nearest road. Two of my 3
buddies rode to the trucks and tried the cell phone;
It wouldn’t work as we were too deep in the forest.
They drove to the closest store and called 911. It
still took over an hour for the medevac team to get to
Back at the scene, things were getting pretty tough.
It was very hot, mid 90’s temp-wise, middle of summer
in Florida! The friend that stayed with me was getting
sick, overwhelmed by what he was seeing and could no
longer hold traction on my leg. The other fella was
drifting in and out screaming when he was awake,
swallowing some blood and beginning to have trouble
The flight team finally landed and I will never forget
the look on the flight nurse’s face. It was that oh
shit look! . They basically scooped up the other fella
and ran. He was in critical condition. They were from
Shands (a teaching hosp. with the UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA). I didn’t want to go there as I was working
at another local facility and being educated in the
medical field, I did not want to go to a “teaching”
hospital, so I told them to go without me. A local EMS
crew had arrived and packaged me, took me out on a 4×4
to the graded road, put me in the ambulance, and
transported me 60+ miles to Gainesville. It took over
6 hours from the time of the accident until I arrived
in the ER. I was pretty weak from the loss of blood.
Due to my low blood pressure and possible head injury
(helmet came off), I hadn’t been given any painkillers
the entire bumpy trip out. It hurt ALOT!! And thats
about all I’ve got to say about that.
I spent 16 days in the hospital. The orthopedist said
he had seen femurs broken as bad as mine but none
worse. He used stainless steel (a plate and 14 pins)
in the first operation. I woke up with a scar running
the length of my entire thigh ( about 18 inches, from
hip to below the knee). 3 of the pins were to piece my
kneecap back together. The rest were in my femur
holding the plate in place. The X-Ray looks like an
erector set. 3 months later, I had developed a varus
deformity. The plate wasn’t quite strong enough for
the amount of bone I lost. The whole operation had to
be redone using titanium and extra bone chipped away
from my hip. 10 months total on crutches, I was
finally able to walk again. I still have 14 pins and a
titanium plate in my left leg. Those were some tough
days. I didn’t race for 12 years after that.
My forearms looked like popeye’s and to this day I can
still rip on crutches! I celebrated getting off
crutches by attending Bike Week in Daytona!
I heard the other guy made it ok as well. I called him
from my hospital room a couple of days after the
accident. His jaw was wired shut so talking was
difficult for him. He apologized to me for being right
beside his buddy on the 3 wheeler and leaving me no
where to go. I apologized …..for him getting the
worst of the accident.
It happened. I try to tell it as it happened, without
embellishments. I carry the memory, the titanium and
the scar but I carry on just fine. It changed my life
drastically but I’ve made it through. I now work as a
Critical care Flight Paramedic in Alaska. I’ve climbed
mountains, live an active life and have accomplished
alot on motorcycles since that accident. I ride
somewhat slower on the trails now. I simply don’t ride
with abandon into blind corners. I still like to turn
it loose on the MX track though. I was able to win 3
MX titles this past year including a state
championship in the Vet. class. I’m thinking of
entering the BAJA 1000. I’m even planning to get back
on the street again to celebrate my 40th in a couple
I have broken several more bones on the trail and at
MX tracks over my 31 years of riding. If I get injured
again, I would prefer to do it at a track with a
standby ambulance. This accident did not deter me from
riding, delayed but not deterred. I hurt when I get up
in the mornings. Advil and hot-tubs are a way of life
for me now. I love riding though, I feel very ALIVE.
Everyone do yourselves a favor. Get some wilderness
first aid training and have your trail riding partners
do the same, keep a cell with you! You just never know
when a situation like this will occur. Also, and this
should go without saying, ride within your vision
limits on trails that have multiple use/directions!
Sorry this was so long but I felt it needed the
details to convey the story. I hope this example helps
someone out there!