Due to the incredible number of responses to my article Why We Keep Riding Despite Injuries, I was unable to include all the responses in the first article. Here you can see a few more of our readers thoughts on the subject.
I rode for 15 years with nothing more than a couple of scrapes from going down on gravel one time. I had an old Triumph 500 which I learned on, and it was such a piece of crap that I decided to buy a spanking new Guzzi 850 T3 in ’76. Rode it for 7 years, bought a new Guzzi 850 LeMans III. Rode that for 7 years also, but toward the end of the 7 years, found myself in the middle of a divorce, riding from bar to bar trashed most of the time. Got talked into racing of couple guys on Jap metal in a weak moment one late night, and ended up totalling bike, breaking my neck in the process. I quit riding for 15 years, got seriously into music (guitar), then bicycling, but never found the satisfaction that motorcycling gave me. Finally 2 1/2 years ago I stopped by the local Kawasaki dealership, and was amazed at the quality of the Harley clones, sat on one, and two weeks later was back and riding again. After a year on the Kawasaki and a couple of problems, decided ! a needed a bigger, more reliable ride and got a BMW R1200C Montauk. Riding this gave me the old feeling of uniqueness that I had with the Guzzi’s, with the reliability of BMW and anti-lock brakes. I stopped riding because I did not trust myself, not because I did not like riding, and figured I had learned my lesson and was mature enough to be able to ride sober, and get back to what intrigued me about bikes in the first place, speed, freedom, solitude. Ride sober! Ed
I have been riding forever and am now 37 years old. I enjoy both sport bikes as well as motocross bikes. I raced with a club called “The Over The Hill Gang” for several years and was very happy with my skill level. I always wear all of the gear and roll a track at least two times before trying anything, even if I am very familiar with the track. Also, I was riding at least 1 to 2 times per week. Thanksgiving weekend 2003 was my day to be called out. I had just started riding around the Elsinore vet track and had done a few slow laps when disaster struck. I was not going more than 20 miles an hour but had gotten my body caught in the bike. The result was a broken femur and arm. I was upset as well as frustrated with what had happened, I was better than this. After surgery that night I only missed one week of work and was trying my best to get back into shape. I sold three bikes after this and said I would try something else. OK, that lasted a day, now it was time to buy two new bikes and start all over again. Unfortunately there were complications with the surgeries and I was back for 2 more. However, inbetween surgeries I still rode and continue to ride now. I just did a 2 day ride in Baja and am considering getting back on the track soon. When people ask me why I still ride I laugh and tell them about all of the ways other people have hurt themselves like tripping on a curb, etc. So, if they are still willing to walk, I am still willing to ride. Riding isn’t something I do, it is who I am.
Mine reads a little different but still fills the bill on “Why we Ride”
It’s September 20, 2004. I’ve just turned 50 and have been riding for almost 40 years. Not a single moving accident in the entire time span.
I left home that morning , headed to do an early erran before going to work. My fully decked out V65 Sabre with 40,000 miles purring along. At the intersection I decided to take the long way to work that morning and accomplish my task at the same time. I turned east. It was 6am. As I rolled on the throttle I noticed how nice a day it was and how clear the sky was , including a bright sun just cresting over the horizion.
As I pulled up to the traffic light, I monitored the traffic as I prepared to pull into the main traffic lane. As I looked in my rear view mirror , all I could see was the grill of a vehicle. The next moment I was flying thru the air into the vehicle in front of me. I had been rear ended. He said he didn’t see me because of the sun.
My Sabre was totaled. I received a torn right knee and a dislocated tail bone. Both were operated on and I lost the tail bone.
Why do I ride ? hmmm,
Before the accident it was the exiliration of control of over 100 horses and the freedom of the “uncaged traveler”. It was comfort in my riding abilities and safe history.
Now, yes I purchased another bike, things have changed. I’m not sure anymore. The accident scared the hell out of me as the reality of the situation set in. I had been the victim of an accident over which I had no control. It’s un-nerving.
Six months passed after the accident and the call of the road was so strong , I had to buy another bike. It’s in the blood . But , it’s not the same anymore. The usual comfort has been replaced with constant pain while sitting. The traffic patterns once 2nd nature are now 2nd guessing as that vehicle coming up behind me , Is he going to Stop ?
Frankly, it’s been 15 months since the accident and I’m still in pain while riding (30 minutes at a time), I don’t know. Time will tell I’m sure. The new bike is nice. I wish I could do it justice. However , why do I ride ? It’s in the blood.
August 25th, 2004 just about dark, I toped a hill at 50 mph and suddenly, there was a deer coming across from my left to right. Actually, I think I saw two of them. Anyway, the next thing I know, I’m down on my left side flipping along the tarmac. All I remember thinking was “oh crap, I just hit a deer”. As I lay there on my back trying to get my breath, I realized I couldn’t move my left side without great shots of pain. A nice lady, who had been sitting on her porch and saw the accident, approached me and assured me that help was on the way and helped me open my flip-up helmet so I didn’t feel like I was suffocating. After an ambulance ride to the hospital, I learned that I had broken ribs and collar bone on my right side, and left thumb. I missed a couple of weeks of work and my bike was in the shop for two months receiving $6700.00 worth of repairs. During this time, I seriously considered giving up riding. My family and co-workers certainly encouraged that I do so. When the bike was ready, I tentively rode it home searching the roadside for deer poised to sprint out in front of me with no notice whatsoever. In fact, I still ride this way to some degree. It took a while, but It became easier to ride as time passed. I have put about 10,000 miles on the bike since then. I still do not ride at dusk or after, and I still constantly scan the roadside for critters and whatever else may inadvertantly shoot out at me. I guess the people who questioned why I got back on just realize that riding a motorcycle is my passion. By the way, a helmet saved me and I will never ride without one (Ohio has no helmet law).
well i should title this why i will ride again, i am currently recouping
from my accident and will have my med clearence from my ship this
2 weeks ago i went down on my 2005 CBR600RR, unfortunately i have owned this
bike for a grand total of 1 month at the time, i went down doing about 65
down a back road “highway?”. My bike has since been declared totaled and i
spent about 4 hours in the ER, now i didnt get anything as bad as some
others (road rash and some bruising) but i still got the question from all
my family as to if ill ride again, and to all their surprise i said of
course i will, now it wont be on my beautiful RR, i am back on my old 500cc
Buell blast but riding is riding \, the reason is there is nothing that
compares, since the day i went down all i have wanted is to get back up, and
hopefully tomorrow will be the day.
Your comments about being off for decades hit home with me. I went a solid 25 yrs. between bikes. A couple of buddies left rides with me on and off during that time, but still, they weren’t mine. I’ve been down a number of times, but to the ER only once. Just a lot of road rash and some gravel imbedded in a knee cap. Even so, I’d dream about having a bike quite often. I don’t mean just thinking about it, I’d have sleep dreams of riding through the mountains. Well, a couple of years ago, I had one of those life changing things happen that folks talk about that helped me quit drinking. My Mom died at the same time and left me a little bit of cash. With my wife’s blessing and as a reward for stopping the drink, I bought a brand new Aprilia Falco. I know technology has made motorcycles better, but DAMN this thing was everything I had been dreaming about and more for the last 25 years. I guess this is what is feels like for a 30 year old virgin on their honeymoon. I’ve got a lot of riding to catch up on, but right now, I more afraid of hurting the bike than me so caution is my middle name.
I had the most amazing experience after going over the handlebars of my V-65 when it met a Mazda 929.
The dirver made a lane change and hit the brakes. I did not react in time. My handlebar hit my inside right thigh with considerable force.
Soon I understood the term “massive hematoma”.
It was about the size of a mango cut in half along the longitdinal axis. The hematoma organized into a massive blood clot and felt like a block of wax.
After the bike was repaired I went to the shop to pick it up. It was repaired much sooner than I was repair.
I limped towards the bike. As I approached it my right thigh began to shake. I was a visible temor. I could touch the area of the hematoma and it was throbbing under my touch.
I walked away from the bike and the thigh spasms stopped.
I walked towards the bike and the spasms re-started.
It appeared to me that my own thigh was afraid of the bike.
I managed to ride it home. My thigh hurt considerably as I rode home.
I parked the bike and did not ride it again for months.
As soon as I got off the bike and, more importatnly, away from the bike, the throbbing and the pains abated.
My thigh eventually recovered. The hematoma cleared up, and to my delight, my thigh stopped being afraid of the V-65!
I hope I’m not too late to chime in on “why we ride”. I’m one of the luckier riders out there. Really; I have proof: I’m part of the “have crashed” group, but my one (and hopefully, only) crash was a relatively tame low-side in gravel. 1988 Kawasaki Ninja with who knows how many miles on it, since it had a salvaged title. I accidentally threw it on it’s side when I got target fixation and went into the gravel on a left hand curve riding on Telegraph Canyon road in beautiful sunny southern California. My only injuries being sore shoulders and road rash that seeped through my gloves. And like everybody else who’s crashed, riding is a disease that I don’t want the cure to. But, anyway, the biggest reason I ride is a friend of mine, Travis. Travis, Chris, Mike and I were riding together on Telegraph Canyon road. Travis had a CBR600F3; Chris had a 1996 Ninja; Mike had a Buell Cyclone; I was on my recently purchased Honda Magna. Being on true sportbikes, Travis and Chris pulled away from Mike and I. Chris was in front of Travis and only saw a little bit of the accident in his mirrors. Travis had lost control in a corner ended up high siding (we think) and getting pinned/slammed under a guardrail. Dead by the time we got to him. So when people tell me “oh I don’t ride because so-and-so that I know got hurt/mangled/killed on a motorcycle” I respond “You DON’T ride and know somebody who got hurt; I DO ride…think I may have a story or two?”. That usually elicits “Why do you ride then?”. Respect. Travis would’ve wanted us to continue riding because he knew how much fun it is, and I respect his memory too much to not ride. Thanks for hearing my rant. Take care.
I have one thing that should sum up the spirit to ride despite everything
That’s all that needs to be said…..
I’ll turn 50 this year. I’ve been riding since I was 10, blessed with miles
and miles of western Pennsylvania trails. My folks rode street bikes and
were judged by some as terrible parents for allowing me and my younger
brother the freedom and risk we enjoyed. My Dad’s unspoken wisdom was to
allow us as much freedom as we could responsibly handle. He understood the
art of making boys into men by allowing them to succeed at manly endeavors.
Whether motorcycles, guns, or our first night out with the family car, we
were trusted until we gave him a reason to revoke that trust. He also
discovered the key to discipline; Identify your child’s passion and withold
it when necessary. Needless to say, the keys to my 1970 CT175 spent a fair
amount of time in his pocket!
Since then, not much has changed. I’ve done my best to follow my Dad’s
example while raising two boys. Dad’s passed on and now, and instead of
begging for the keys back, I beg my bride to find room in the budget for one
more bike payment. I live in the somewhat warmer climate of southeast
Virginia and haven’t owned a car since 1976. The number and types of bikes
in my past is a blur. The number of accidents, how badly I hurt, who was at
fault, and what “could have happened” is also a blur. I have a standard
reply to “My Uncle Bob lost his leg on one of those things”. I simply ask
“Do you know anyone who’s been badly injured or killed in a car?” When they
say yes, I just ask how they got here today.
This is a really enjoyable thread and it is making Christmas Day a lot
less boring. This Oct. a friend and I rode from upstate NY down to the
southeast USA, a ride we do once or twice a year religiously to enjoy
the beautiful twisties down there. We split up in NC and I rode down to
attend the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School at Road Atlanta, after which we
met up again in Robbinsville, NC. The next day we were heading south on
NC 129, me on my GL1800 and he on his R1200RT. There was a dense
overnite fog, but it was a bright sunny day, 80 degrees and by 11 am,
the roads were beautiful. I was rounding a 30MPH type right hander
leaned well over and doing about 70 very much in control and riding
7/10s. Part way through the long turn, I came upon a shaded area in the
road and of a sudden I came to the realization that I was not leaned any
longer but was actually down. The fog left the road wet and slippery in
the shaded area. My first thought was, “If I am not carving, then I am
not going to make the turn but am going to proceed tangential to the
turn”, which was followed quickly by “shit, this is gonna ruin the rest
of the trip”. The bike and I parted ways and both of us went sliding,
bike first down, then across the road. When the bike reached the other
side it started tumbling as did I. I watched the yard sale unfold until
I started tumbling. When the action ended, I was panicked because I
couldnt breathe and realized this was not a healthy situation.
Gradually I got my breath back, got up to my knees and began to assess
my injuries.( I am a 59 yo plastic surgeon) I had a lot of left sided
chest and back pain and suspected fractured ribs at least, but was well
aware of the possibility of lung, spleen and kidney injuries. My buddy
got to the seen about a minute after the crash and managed to make
arrangements for the bike. Someone called the police and eventually an
ambulance showed up. I was taken to a small hospital about 45 minutes
away, xrays revealed 4 fractured ribs. I had some microscopic blood in
my urine. Fortunately, I remained stable with no internal bleeding over
the 4 hours I was in the ER. No CT scan, not even an IV!! (Where am I,
in Rwanda?) After 4 hours I was told I had to go! Where, how??? There
was a motel about 5 miles away but no way to get there. I suggested
they call the Sheriff and a deputy was kind enough to bring me. I found
out about a van service that goes to Atlanta airport and the next
morning I got a ride there and flew home.. Bike eventually declared
totalled and rests somewhere in NC. I made a quick recovery and was
riding again in 2 weeks, but obviously taking it really easy. All the
usual stuff from everyone–You are not going to ride anymore? Are you
nuts? Etc. The only way I could see not riding again is if I lose
interest in riding. Motorcycling has been a major enjoyment in my life
for 42 years. There is no way I am about to give this up. By the way,
I was gonna sell the wing anyway since my wife recently decided not to
ride anymore. Glad she wasnt with me. I have not replaced the Wing. I
have a GSXR750 , a Ducati Monster M1000 and a dirt bike in the garage
and, ….I cant wait for Spring!!! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
to all. We are a lucky bunch arent we!
I asked myself this very question after my first, of several, motorcycle crashes. You always remember the first ‘big one’ so to speak.
Mine happened one night in 1975 near Kahului Airport on Maui. I was making a sweeping right hand turn. In the middle of the turn I suddenly found that one-third of the outside (read right side) of ‘my’ lane was missing, as it was just a large and deep hole in the road. My ’72 Honda CL450 plowed into the hole, instantly destroying both wheels and tires in the process. The police said that my Honda and I traveled over 200 feet after hitting that monster of a pothole in the dark, breaking three ribs. I still remember landing in the middle of that road, my first thought being “How’s my motorcycle?” Fortunately, the first person to come by was a motorcycle-riding pal of mine in his big Chrysler sedan. But I was young then and able to return to my construction job 14 days later. I did repair that Honda a few months later.
I’ve had a few more crashes since then, with a few more broken bones and hematomas. But riding is a spiritually uplifting experience as is working and improving my three old Kawasaki Zs. Why stop now? After all, I’m too old … to stop
When I got my first REAL dirt bike some 10 years ago, a ’95 WR250, I went out to my local MX track to take a few laps. At this point all I had ridden was an XR250 on the trails, and I was excited. Needless to say I was in way over my head and before I knew it, I was thinking like I was Jeff Stanton trying the big doubles and the long tabletops. With no real MX skills I was unaware of “cross rutting” and what effect it could have on the attitude of your bike should you jump this way. Sure enough, on a table in 3rd gear I left the lip of the jump in what my friends called “nac nac on the ground” fashion and landed on the down slope of the jump seperate from my bike and broke my collarbone. Now I know that this is quite a minor injury that many riders suffer, but my girlfriend ( now my wife ) was NOT happy. I was getting those kinds of questions like, “So are you done riding now?” And there was the, “…so have you learned your lesson? You’re not 16 anymore y’know.” But I didn’t listen and actually laughed at her. (hoping to turn it into laughing WITH her) The point is, for 2 months all I could think about was getting back out there. Getting back on the bike to feel that rush, the indescribable feeling that comes from riding. I struggled to make her understand, but I couldn’t. Others non-riders in my family asked the same types of questions. However, the ones that rode uttered no such questions. They understood. Especially my brother, who suffered a broken back at the Quicksilver Enduro the year before, and my cousin, who suffered a broken arm at the National HS in Hollister 2 years before. This list goes on, but they all felt the same as I did. “As soon as I’m healed enough to get back on it…”
About 3 years ago, I was riding at one of my favorite tracks in Lake Elsinore, Ca; beautiful day, the track was groomed perfectly, and there were hardly any other riders out there. I was testing out 2 different bikes that day (CR 250 and CRF 450) on the vet track and was feeling very confident on both bikes. The wind started to pick up a lot and on certain jumps it was causing me to use a lot more throttle. Well, to shorten a long story, I came up short on one jump and ended up in the Lake Elsinore emergency room with a fractured maxilla, two front teeth knocked out and many more damaged.
Now of course some people asked if that was going to stop me from riding (the doctors/dentists), but anyone who knew me already knew that it would take a lot more than that to keep me off a bike.
4 surgeries and counting, and I almost have my smile back to where it used to be. It is a long, slow process, but not enough to keep me away from the joy that I get from riding.
p.s. oh yea—I was back at the track the next weekend. :
I just read your article on why we keep riding and just thought I’d share my story with you. My accident occurred this past November and it was the result of the another driver turning left in front of me. I was going just about 40 mph, which was the speed limit on that road and had just passed the intersection. The gas station is right at the intersection and by the time I realized she was actually going to turn in front of me it was too late to react. I ended up going over the car. I went to the hospital and ended up with 12 stitches in my right knee and entensive bruising in my groin area, right thigh and calf, swollen right big toe and left wrist. Thanks to the man upstairs I was still in one piece. I was actually discharged from the hospital that same day. There was a surveillance camera at the gas station that caught the accident on tape and the EMS people say that in retrospect it might have been better that I didn’t have time to react and tense up, the injuries could have been worse. Anyway, I was riding my Ninja 250 at the time (I’m going to miss her), and had been riding for 2 years (about 9000 miles) and was heading to work when the accident happened. I’m slowly getting better, my wrist and big toe are still sore but I get around pretty well. Before the accident I was hoping to move up to the Ninja 650R next year, I still plan on doing that. Some of my friends say I’m crazy, mostly the ones who don’t ride, the ones that do say get back on again. My mom knows I ride but she doesn’t know about the accident, she’s 91 and I don’t want her to worry more at her age. My son started riding this past June and I spent the summer weekends riding with him, so I’d like to continue that. The only thing that keeps coming up in my mind is what did I do wrong? What could I have done? I wasn’t speeding or being reckless but you just always have to be watchful.
Because I like it and it is fun. After some thought, I have realized the best friends I have are those I share a passion with; flying, riding bicycles, motorcycles, martial arts, you name it – if I share it with another person we become friends.
Motorcycling comes with its share of grief though. August of ’04 I had a nasty crash in Turn 2 at Willow Springs; I nearly ground off the top of my thumb, broke a bone in my foot and sprained my ankle on the other foot, not to mention the various other bruises and the wadded bike. The previous crash I had a concussion which left me dizzy for months and broke 3 ribs. January of this year I was hit – head on, mind – by an old lady doing the classic “I didn’t see him” left turn. A trip to the ER in the back of an ambulance, 9 weeks missed from work, thousands of dollars in med bills and the possibility of needing surgery is where I am at now. Well, not quite as I’ve replaced my dearly departed 996 Ducati with a sexy black 999S monoposto and have spent the last week or so getting my race bike ready for next years WSMC BOTT Middleweight race season.
I don’t feel that riding or racing contradicts my desire to live – the final result will not change whether I spend my spare time WFO in Turn 8 at Willow Springs or if I spend it in a Barcalounger with a beer in my hand watching bowling.
Why do I do it? Because I want to feel ALIVE. Nearly being killed showed me – again – how fragile our lives are. Your life can be taken away in an instant and there is not a damned thing you can do about it. The sooner you accept that fact, then the sooner you realize that every day is a gift and it is your choice how to live. It is far too easy to become complacent and just go through your every day routine of life – and you still wind up the same way in the end. I do believe once you fully know you will be dead sooner than you would wish, then you can decide how you want to live.
I had just recently completed the MSF course and got my license, and
with about 50 miles of non-parking-lot experience on my dad’s Kawaski
Vulcan 500, he rented a bike for himself, gave me the Kawi, and we set
off on what I’d have to call the First Ride.
There was a nice, moderately twisty road, and I followed him through a
seemingly innocuous left-hander. I’m not too sure what really happened
in that turn, but I recall my heart rate jumping as the double yellow
line slipped away to my left. My brain had just enough time to whisper,
“Ohshi-!” before I wound up face down in a ditch. I came away with some
hideous road rash on the knees and a badly sprained wrist, but my
armored jacket allowed me to elbow-check the ground with impunity. I
also bent the fork and caused enough dings and scratches that the bike
was totaled. Within a week, I also parted with my wisdom teeth
(scheduled event, but I had had enough of gauze and painkillers
already) and my girlfriend (unscheduled event, hurt more than the teeth
or the wreck).
Who cares? There was wind on my face, sun glinting off of chrome, and
the thrill of truly being out and riding for the first time. And there
were lots of horses and cows and hills and grass and stuff, and not
really any of the man-made blight on the landscape that has become the
norm for the suburbs. I knew before I left the ER that, even if I knew
how it would turn out, I’d have made the decision to ride that day. In
a way, the pure, uncomplicated, childlike joy that I feel when I ride
had healed me before I was even injured.
Eight thousand miles later, I’m on a newer Kawi 500 of my own, and that
one first road is one of my favorites. I see all kinds of stuff that my
joe schmoe cage counterparts don’t on the interstate, and I’ve learned
the importance of riding my own ride. This is for life.
Seems to me it’s a matter of acceptance.
If you accept that you’ll get urt riding bikes then your perception
isn’t changed when you do come off.
If you *think* you’ve accepted it, but havne’t, then you’ll re consider.
Other things can change this perception too of course – kids for one.
I’m up to 21 bits of metal now – had a couple of bad smashes, had a
couple of minor tumbles. The last time, I spent the first two weeks in
hospital thinking I’d maybe turn my attentions to fooling around with
cars. As soon as I’d landed back in blighty and my bike was delivered
(in pieces) I was working out mods to incorporate as I put it back
Anyways I got back on, and have been punted off since (by my best mate
on another bike!!!!). Makes no odds – my other best mate got run over
by a bus. He’s got fa more long term damage (but less of a limp) just
because he ot drunk one night. He’s not changing what he’s doing, why
On another note – he’s a snow boarder. Why is it that hospital staff
think it’s so amusing when people throw themselves down a mountain
strapped to a bit of plastic and hurt themselves, but if some Mr
Myopia carves me up on my way to work, hospital staff reckon I was
just asking for it by riding a bike to get to work??
Good Topic – I will try to keep it short and sweet. About 5 1/2 years ago….
I had been riding about 4 years and had been focusing on MX for the previous year when I had my “big” accident. I was doing alright, only minor injuries thus far ( broken ankle, foot, and a concussion).
We were riding at a track in Casa Grande, AZ and it was getting HOT. July 2nd about 10:30 in the A.M., and I was about done. Well, I come up to a taller. appx. 50 foot table top, and as soon as I am in the air, I knew I was in big trouble. Just up ahead, in the landing zone with the bucket down, was a front end loader. There was no avoiding it so I thought if I pushed off the bike, maybe I could fall off to one side of it? I still went into the bucket with the top of my left shin hitting the top of the bucket. My right knee slid just under the edge of the bucket.
Well, of course the track owner was an idiot – no flaggers and there was still a couple of people on the track. But that is a whole other story that would take another chapter.
The result on the left side was a severed patellar and ACL, a broken femur (condial), and lots of meniscus damage. Also a gash/slice below the knee cap 6 inches long and to the bone and beyond. The result on the right side was no cuts or abrasions, but the pressure against the inside of the blade broke the kneecap in 4 pieces.
They air lifted me out because of a possible femoral artery cut, and the trauma team in Phoenix, AZ operated on me that night. I went in at 10 PM and got out around 5:30 in the AM.
They fixed the Patellar tendon, screwed the femur condial back in, and cleaned up the left leg, and drilled / pinned/ and wired the patella back together on the right. I was there one week, transferred to a rehab center for a week after that. I had to stay in a wheelchair or bed for 12 weeks, and both legs had braces on them that would not allow for more that 30 degrees of motion. After I was able to walk ( slowly and stiffly), I started therapy to get the range of motion back. This took another 3 months and another operation on each side. The injury was not painful at all in comparison to the daily therapy.
It took about a 11 mos. before I had the flexibility and strength to get back on a bike and start it. My old Kx was totalled, and I said the heck with the finances and bought a brand new 01’250F. Best money I ever spent. Just kicking that thing to life made me feel so alive again even if I couldn’t do a decent left turn because my leg was still stiff.
Still no left ACL, but I have since had 2 more surgeries to remove hardware, bone fragments, scar tissue, etc.,. I am on another bike and probably as fast as I have ever been.
My wife, ( girlfriend at time of accident), knows that I am addicted to MX, but also knows that I ride as safe as I can while keeping the fun in the mix. That is one of reasons I married her, I would have to say. My parents did not really understand me wanting to get back on a bike, but they accept it. My dad would ask, “You are going to get back on that thing?” And I would tell him it was not a bike accident, but a front end loader accident ! Another thing I asked him was that if he got into a car accident, would he stop driving? There are just things you HAVE to do.
Since I realize how good body placement probably saved my life, I am more thankful for my life every day I get out bed in the morning. And even more thankful that I can do everything I used to do before the accident. And what better thing to do with your life than go ride?
I live in the Netherlands and have been riding bikes from my 18th birthday. I simply love bikes. Cars just don’t do it for me… However, back in 1993 I suffered a terrible motorcycle accident on my beloved YZF750R. It left me with a stiff left leg, badly disfigured ankle and ended my motorcylce-riding days. Or so I thought…. Then at the end of the millennium the big motor scooters arrived and I thought lets give it a try. No clutch and enough space to stretch my left leg. It was a great feeling to ride out again, but it didn’t quite feel like a propper bike to me. Yet the virus had struck again, and I decided to buy an FZ1 and have it modified by a specialist (electric shifting and forwarded footrest). It also meant having my drivinglicence renewed. In all I took a gamble and it payed off big time…. I got my licence back and since then I feel reborn again. Taking the bike out for a spin with my friends, planning weekend trips, using it to travel to work, I all enjoy it tremendously. When people ask why not just stick to a car after all I endured I don’t even bother to explain. Only those who ride a bike themselves understand. To sum it up I can only say that the worst thing that happened to me in all my life has been this accident, and the best thing since (8 years later) the fact that I have started riding again.
This one really hit home and I am glad you decided to bring forward the topic. My story is very close to yours, a little more tragic, but still as devote to riding. For all the shows we watch and the articles published, I think our industry could run a whole series or at least expand and build on this component that so firmly embeds our passion for it. The people, through stories like this, are committed to riding like no other emotional pursuit.
I had about 15 years street riding experience with a pretty active amateur motocross racing regimen working. On a practice day for little more reason than hooking up really well in the corner before and too much fiddling with rebound adjustments, I way overshot a large tabletop jump. I landed far out on the flat with my front wheel high. I landed like a sack of keys. I thought staying with the bike was going to soften what I knew was going to hurt. It might of helped a little but I still slid down off the back of the bike, butt planted in terra firma, and had a burst fracture of T-12 with some organ trauma. I was paralyzed from the waist down immediately and stayed that way for about 3 months. Slowly I started to get back my quadriceps and some other upper leg muscles. Shorten a year long physical therapy regimen, many stages of accommodation, two surgeries, against all nay sayers and predictions, I was able to walk again with orthodics and a cane. I’m a rarity. I have no movement below both knees and about 50% of everything between there and the waist.
On to the keep riding part. I had to get back to street bike riding. I was lost until I did. Nowadays I ride my streetbikes with no special modifications. My rear brake technique, well, I just don’t use that much. I’m able to shift gears without ankle movement. I kinda move my whole leg. I cover about 12,000 miles riding a year with some nice long distance sport tours mixed in there. That’s not all. I missed the dirt too. Just two years after the back accident I started riding 4 wheelers. Within another year I was racing those cross country and motocross. But here we go again. On year three of the return to dirt I had another “heavy one” to quote Barry Sheen. Coming up short on a triple jump, yes triple jumping ATV motocross, I broke my femur, clavicle, and some ribs. Back in the hospital, another year of recovery (got back on the street in 6 months), I’m back to walking with just a cane again. So naturally, here we are in 2005 and I have an ATV I trail ride on and a few street bikes for all types of riding. I’m happy and at home. Riding.
I’m not a nut case. I work with seniority for a very reputable company. I have an MBA and a sensible portfolio. My life has and always will include riding. I love to hear the “overcome all and still riding” stories. It’s not just the riding, it’s not just the machines, it’s not just the people or the places. It’s all of them together that makes it so great.
Keep doing what you do. I love the website. Feel free to contact me.
One of my crash related stories would have to start the year previous to the actual get-off.
The year would have been the winter of 1980. I had a 1976 Super Glide. That winter I planned a motorcycle make-over. Over the past few years of Swap Meets, I acquired the parts to transform the Super Glide into a Dresser. So I did a top end, chassis and bodywork overhaul, essentially a brand new bike.
The following Spring I was practicing, April 17, 1981 to be exact, for the upcoming season of Motocross competition I ended up being sucked into the rear tire and swing arm of a fellow competitor’s bike. I broke my Left femur. After making a splint with a couple of tie downs and sticks, being loaded in to the back of a 4X4 drive truck, I was hauled into the nearest town to meet the ambulance.
Much to my ignorance and dismay, I did not get out of the hospital that evening. Femur breaks are a little different. I spent 3 months in traction and them only to come out of the Hospital with a cast.
I was able to start riding in November of that year. Now remember I crashed on my dirt bike, so as opposed to other bikers who crash and after they get well, they have to put a bike back together, I had a brand new bike. Which, because of the get-off and my lack of riding that summer, my winter riding career started, which I still do to this day. The real surprise came the following Spring. I got laid off from my job; I had a brand bike, the desire to ride and the time to do it. I took off July 3rd. and headed West from Peoria, Ill. For the next 4 months and 12,000+ miles I toured 3 of the four corners of the United States touching Mexico and Canada finding my way home that October. I call it my Summer Vacation