Hello new riders,
Welcome to our hobby and pastime, for some of us an obsession. I have been on BCSB for 5 years now and have read over 100 RIP posts, for a few years I kept count but it broke my heart making those annual threads of young (mostly) lives lost.
I used to be a safety nut and tell everyone to wear AGATT (All Gear All The Time) but then like so many I decided to just back off and let nature take it's course.
The spring riding season is coming up and many of you will be out riding and taking lessons as soon as the weather improves. I have crashed, had an accident, hit something, many of us have, I was lucky enough to be hit on a racetrack at a riding school and I was wearing a good one piece riding suit, I slid, the bike was totaled, the other rider never 'fessed up. I was unhurt because although I slid a long way I didn't hit a lamp post or a fire hydrant I was on the perfect place to crash - a racetrack.
I also have hit a large animal (Moose)that ran out in front of me and through luck, a recent riding course and a series of happy coincidences I was uninjured - but that motorcycle was also written off. I have had close calls (less than 10 feet with 3 other Moose and 7 deer) I can still see all their faces or butts
I am old (over 50 now ) and I started riding 8 years ago, I have ridden over 500,000 kms, and this year like every year I tried to ride every week of the year I am in town. The weather this winter made me rusty and my skills show it and I know it. I was talking to another riding friend of mine who started 2 years before me and is at 800,000 kms he too feels rusty because we have gotten out of the practice of riding this winter. It is ok to take it easy when you start off this spring.
What's it like to crash, well it is not fun and this morning on Adventure Rider in a forum called face plant a member posted a story of his crash a long time ago.
It sums everything up, the extra issue that causes his crash, how he crashed, the aftermath of the crash, and the fact that he is still riding many years later and how he rides differently today because of that crash. He also comments on his gear or lack of it.
I hope it helps just one of you in some way in managing your riding this year. If you want to read more stories of crashes and the post crash analysis go to http://www.advrider.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=17
Ever been in a motorcycle wreck?
A Helmet really did save my life.
I know a lot of you have some first hand experience of motorcycle injuries. In the interest of educating motorcycle riders that haven’t put it down hard, I have written about my own experience. Bluntly put, wrecking on your motorcycle sucks, getting hurt badly really sucks. Let me point out that I still love to ride motorcycles on the street. I am in my forties, and currently own a 2008 Kawasaki Concours14 Sport touring bike, which I enjoy very much (I am also researching/shopping for an Adventure bike).
My accident happened when I was 23 years old. I was riding a Kawasaki KZ1000 (see picture), a bike in 1984 that had good performance for the time. It was Tucson, Arizona sometime in June of 1984 at about 3PM. The temperature was a few degrees over 100, which made it a normal summer day in Arizona. Since it was hot, I had on jeans, and a tee shirt. Not the best protective gear. Come to think of it.. “protective: and “gear” used together with “jeans and T-shirt” is oxy-moronic. The day of my accident, I made a decision to wear a full face helmet, and that literally saved my life. It wasn’t a top of the line helmet, but it was the best I could afford at the time.
This was my second street motorcycle. Motorcycles had been my only means of personal transportation for about four years, and I had ridden thousands of miles throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona. When a motorcycle is your only means of getting from point A to B, and you ride everyday, you tend to gain some proficiency. I had also taken some formal training, which was required to ride on a military base (I had been honorably discharged 6 months earlier).
In the mindset of youth, you think you’re invincible; accidents are what happen to the other guy. On the day of my accident, I became that “other guy”. I was on the way home from work, and had traveled about ten miles when it happened. I was on a four-lane road. There was a medium in the middle dividing the four lanes. I was behind a small black car in the right lane. I remember the car, because it had a cute girl in it. The car was going slower than other traffic, so I decided to pass. I signaled, moved to the left lane, and accelerated pass the car. As I merged back into the right lane, it was then that I felt the bike “jump”, and heard a scraping sound on the left side. I glanced to find my kickstand was down and locked. As you can imagine, this was somewhat of a surprise. I struggled to kick it back and out of the way. At this point I was dealing with a number of issues, traffic, kickstand, and the myriad other things that make up riding a motorcycle. Clearly the kickstand did not fit into this equation.
So while dealing with the kickstand, I didn’t notice I had drifted close to the curb. BAM! It was too late. I hit the curb at a shallow angle doing about 50-55 MPH. I literally became airborne.
What happened next was surreal. I remember the flight through the air, as if it happened in slow motion, arcing through the air, paralleling my bikes path, looking at it tumbling violently.
The first impact was on my right shoulder and right side of my head. It was unbelievably violent, as if the damage metered out was too much for my nervous system to feel, and it went into tilt mode. I didn’t feel pain, just a tremendous, violent “thump” and very quick tumbling. When tumbling at that speed the world becomes a blur. I was knocked out somewhere in that tumbling action.
My tumbling was a real world lesson on Newton’s first law of motion “a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force”. Outside forces are the parts of your body that happen to grind along the ground acting like brakes pads, until you finally overcome that forward motion.
Don’t know how long I was knocked out. When I slowly became conscious, and aware of my situation, I was laying on my back on the hot street. The blue sky came into view, except I couldn’t see the whole sky because a crowd of people stood over me blocking my view. It was as if my memory was a video, and someone cut a few frames out of it. Bam…hit ground….tumble…cut….wake up people staring down at me. When I woke up, my brain started to reboot…sights, hearing, memory, coming on line again. Who am I? WTF! What happened? Did I @&(*& wreck?
As I became more awake, and aware, the pain rheostat was set to high. It was strange, because pain was calling in from many different areas of the body, and it became like a dull roar. I was quiet, because I remember thinking and taking stock of all of the injuries….
I could move my legs, which was a good sign. I turned my head (my neck wasn’t broken, another good sign) and surveyed my left arm. The upper arm bone (humerus) had cleanly snapped, and had a 90 degree bend, the effect was like a second elbow, about five inches above the real one. I would have to undergo surgery to implant a plate, and screw the bones together. . .then another surgery five years later, to remove the plate.
My right thumb in the tumbling, had been bent back, and almost ripped off. The bones in the right wrist were fractured. Another operation to have the thumb pinned in place to heal. I was wearing cowhide work gloves, which I had thought were adequate protection. They had been flung off my hands, probably from the centrifugal force of tumbling so fast.
My lower back had two cracked vertebrae, which were very painful.
What exasperated all of these injuries to a great extent, was the large amount of road rash I had. Deep road rash, which went to the bone in places. It was everywhere on my upper torso. At the hospital, I got to experience the wonderful treat of cleaning out the debris from the road rash…”Ouch”…doesn’t quite capture the essence of this experience.
My upper body was severally bruised, but one particular bruise on my lower back was literally black, and about a square foot in diameter. I remember the shock of family members seeing that bruise, and it made dear old Mom tear up.
Surprisingly my jeans didn’t even have a hole in them, and my legs didn’t have one scratch. Not one…thumbs up to Levi Strauss. However, the surface I hit was hard baked clay with a shallow layer of small rocks and pebbles which may have acted like crude ball bearings, so that might have played a part in why my legs weren’t injured.
I was aware that I was going into shock, but somehow I knew I didn’t have internal injuries. During all of this, I was distinctly aware of what was going on, and became hyper attentive to my surroundings. The pain was great, but if I concentrated enough on a focus point, it would lessen into something I could handle.
At the hospital, a police officer came in a little after I arrived. He probably wanted to know if I had survived the accident, and was trying to finish up paperwork. He was holding what was left of my helmet. It had been utterly destroyed. The outer shell had cracked in several places, and it had separated down the middle along a manufacturing seam.
I could hardly believe that much damage had been metered out to my helmet. All the police officer said to me as he looked down at my helmet was, “lucky you were wearing this” My skull would not have fared so well without the helmet The initial impact was great enough that without it, my skull would have cracked, probably leaking brain tissue out. Drop a water melon out the window at 50MPH, you’ll get the picture.
Without the helmet, the right side of my face would have been severely scarred. Because I was wearing a full-face helmet, there wasn’t a scratch on my head. I’m convinced that helmet saved my life, there is no doubt with me. According to the doctor, what helped me survive the accident was the fact that I was in very good physical shape. I was into weight training at the time, and had a lot of muscle mass.
Right after the accident, awake in the emergency room a strange thing happened. I could not remember any numbers…not my home address, my phone number, how old I was, or when I was born. I could remember everything else, but numbers I could not recall. I could count up 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc, etc but stored numbers in my memory alluded me for hours. I knew this was from being knocked unconscious, and sustaining a concussion. After about 5 hours, the ability to remember these numbers slowly returned.
I was in the hospital about four days. A plate had been inserted in my left arm, and my bones secured together. There were pins in my right hand, and I had a back brace on.
I visited the scene of the accident about two weeks later, with plaster casts on both the left and right arms. With my back brace on, I slowly and painfully walked the length of the accident.. I could see the exact place my bike had hit the curb, because of where the tires had made dark marks. Many small bits of bike debris were still plainly visible. I counted off more than a 100 paces to where I had ended up. Some dark blood stains baked onto the hot Tucson asphalt were still visible and marked the spot where I was laying on my back in front of someone’s drive way.
I noticed that my body had to pass between a telephone pole, and a fire hydrant, in order to have ended up where I did. The distance was approximately 10 feet between them. This made me shudder, because hitting one of these immovable objects would have meant death. Then I noticed that my bike had traveled further, impacting and penetrating a gray cinder block wall of a residence. The wall looked like it had been knocked down by a wrecking ball.
I knocked on the door of the residence where the cinder wall had been knocked down. A small elderly woman answered the door. She was plainly shocked to see I had survived. looking at the damage to her wall (she wasn’t home at the time of the accident) she thought the rider must have died in the crash. She invited me in, and I stayed and talked to her for hours. Come to find out that she was a Nazi holocaust survivor, her whole family had been murdered, and she still had the serial number tattooed on her arm that the Nazi’s gave her in the concentration camp. I forgot about my physical pain as she told me about her experiences in the concentration camps. She was a kind woman, and gave me encouragement. I made sure that my insurance company paid for a new wall.
The bike was totaled, the engine case was cracked, the frame twisted. Not much was left that could be salvaged. After about 8 months, I purchased a Yamaha 650. I had to get back on the “horse” because I loved to ride.
Fast forward to the present, over 20 years later, I still ride. I like to think I’m a lot wiser, much more cautious rider. Had I had been wearing the gear I ride with today, my injuries would have been lessened considerably. I would not have had road rash, and perhaps my bones wouldn’t have been broken. I’m convinced that if I was wearing the Dainese back protector I wear now, I would not have cracked any vertebrae.
Every single time I throw a leg over my bike, I take a second or two to think about that accident.
I have three top of the line helmets, and believe its money well spent. I also ride wearing quality protective gear. Ballistic Nylon & leather Jackets with armor padding on the shoulders, elbows, & back . Foot gear specifically designed for motorcycle riding on the street. I wear gauntlet style race gloves with Kevlar armor and fasten them securely. During my accident, the top of my right wrist was ground down to the bone. Had I been wearing quality gloves like I do now, I doubt the injuries would have been as severe. I don’t kid myself, I know that I am still very vulnerable against another vehicle.
I have thought a lot of why this accident happened. The cause was obviously the kickstand coming down, and digging into the pavement. I was distracted enough dealing with it to drift into the curb. It may not have been secured all the way up in the locked position. Perhaps it took the ten miles of riding to jolt the stand down from a partially unlocked to a down and locked position.
We learn from our mistakes. My mistake was not wearing the proper safety gear when riding. Back in the early eighties, we didn’t have the vast array of motorcycle gear available today, especially those designed for hot weather. You basically had leather, which I had left at home that day.
I won’t get into the debate on helmet styles, and whether you should even wear one. All I know is a full faced helmet saved me from death. If this makes just one rider consider making the investment in quality riding gear, and consequently made a difference in an accident, it was worth retelling the story.