No, not mine, though I've learned plenty from my forays into the rhubarb.
10 Things Iíve Learned From 10 Motorcycle Crashes
By Wes Siler
FULL ARTICLE AT RIDEAPART.COM, including links and pics!
Iíve had a few motorcycle crashes in my time. Some have hurt me, some Iíve walked away from. Iíd like to think each one has made me a smarter, safer rider. Hopefully, by sharing what Iíve learned, you can be too, without all the exposed butt shots on the Internet. This is 10 things Iíve learned from 10 (or so) motorcycle crashes.
1. Some Gear Works Better Than Others
When we shot that run-what-you-brung flat track episode and I was riding a 9 bhp kidís bike (donít ask, it wasnít my choice), all the guys we were racing with made fun of me for wearing a race suit, Tech 10s and a full-face helmet. Well, Iíd crashed in all that gear before and I knew it would protect me, even if I ended up getting run over by some hipster in a novelty helmet on his 500 lbs Triumph. At a subsequent race, one of the no-armor crowd broke his back. He wouldnít have if heíd been wearing anything like the gear detailed above.
Even if you donít have the opportunity to crash test gear to learn what works, just apply some critical thought to the gear you choose to wear. Does the elbow armor extend all the way down your forearm? If not, your forearm is exposed. Do your gloves leave exposed skin between their cuff and your jacket? Donít trust Ďem. Is the back protector in your jacket a soft piece of non-CE foam or a hefty plastic-and-foam, CE-rated piece of armor? I donít know about you, but I like the fact that my back works.
I recently ďloanedĒ an entire riding outfit to a buddy who was beginning to ride: a $1,200 Alpinestars jacket complete with BioArmor in the shoulders and elbows, a CE2 D30 back protector and Astars chest armor; matching $1,500 pants with BioArmor; $450 Supertech R boots, $240 GP Tech gloves and a $400 AGV AX-8 Dual helmet. He got wiped out by a car and now he pesters me nearly every day to help him fix his bike. But, the point is that heís around to pester me!
The above is a slight case of overkill, but expensive gear is expensive for a reason ó it works. If you canít afford the good stuff, buy a cheaper bike. Money you spend on safety gear is the best kind of insurance ó it prevents injuries in the first place.
2. But Any Gear Is Better Than None
Boy did I learn this lesson the hard way. When I crashed about a year ago, I was wearing a good helmet, good jacket, good back protector and good boots. What I wasnít wearing was motorcycle pants. The Levis shredded the second they hit the pavement and I walked away with a fractured coccyx, half my butt scraped off, a two-inch hole through my knee, road rash on my legs, two broken ribs (from torsional twist) and the existing metal in my left arm pulled itself free of the bone, shredding that in the process.
All the lower body injuries would have been prevented by wearing my Roadcrafter or any type of real motorcycle pants. Itís as simple as that.
3. Itís Your Palms That Take The Impact, Not Your Knuckles
My arm and ribs might have survived the above crash had my gloves been equipped with palm sliders. While most gloves go heavy on armor for the top of the hand, they ignore the base of your palm. Because we humans instinctually try to catch our falls, thatís typically the first thing to touch down, taking the biggest impact forces. Not only do palm sliders prevent scaphoid fractures, they prevent your hands from ďgrabbingĒ the pavement and directing all that force straight up into your wrist, instead sliding and shearing the forces away from a straight path.
All that armor on my knuckles? It just focused a subsequent impact into its unpadded edge, biting the back of my hand and creating a scar thatís still there.
4. Get Back On The Horse
A few years back, when I lived in New York, I hurt myself pretty badly in an accident and didnít ride again for a while. I was scared to. That created on-bike confidence issues that persist to this day and, well, I just wasnít myself without bikes.
This last crash was my worst ever, but I started riding again just two weeks after I got home from the hospital. I couldnít do it for long and I was pretty darn timid, but I was riding. It took me a while to get back up to speed, but at least I was working on doing so. That made a huge psychological difference in my recovery, even if I was very slow for a long while.
5. Itís Always Your Fault, No Matter What
Hereís the thing about riding a bike: youíre taking your life into your own hands. Thereís no steel safety cage, no airbags, no crumple zone, its just you and your wits against the world. If you ask me, thatís what makes riding so great, but it also means you need to make a fundamental shift in your thinking. It doesnít matter what it says on the police report or the insurance papers or that the teenage chick was texting her boyfriend when she hit you; all that matters is she hit you. And you could have prevented it, you needed to, itís your life, not hers.
So go out there and actively take your own life into your own hands. No excuses. Someone hit you from behind at a stop light? Why werenít you flashing your brake lights? Why didnít you slow down early to bring them to a controlled stop? Why were you stopped in the lane and not on the margin?
Car turn left in front of you? Why didnít you see it coming? Why couldnít you brake harder? Why werenít you more visible?
You have the tools to ride safely, itís up to you to use them. No one else is going to do it for you.
6. Choose Your Friends Wisely
When I crashed last year, Jonís wife Nikki changed my grossest bandages. Sean made sure to keep me in tacos, Mark picked me up and took me on field trips in his car so I could get out of the house. Mollie and Sam made sure I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. Another friend also named Mark drove me to the hospital while I bled all over his car. And pretty much everyone I know had to put up with months of slack and flake and gimpiness. Iím still friends with the people who understood and helped and Iím not friends with the ones who didnít.
7. The 15 Minute Superman
Want to know how much youíre truly capable of? Hurt yourself in a life-and-death scenario. Youíll learn whether youíve got fight or flight and the adrenaline that kicks in after makes possible feats of survival youíd have never thought possible. Youíre much stronger than you think, you can deal with much worse problems. You can overcome. Knowing where your limit truly lies will make you a more confident person in everyday life. You will learn who you truly are.
8. Skip The Pain Killers
Narcotic pain killers are one of the worst crimes perpetrated by our health care system. They donít actually do a great job of killing any pain, but they do poison your mind and body, making you weak, sick, constipated (donít laugh, it sucks), screw with your mind and possibly lead to addiction. As soon as possible, Iíd rather man-up and deal with a little pain than be mean to the people around me and destroy my body. Depending on where you live, more natural solutions may be possible, use them, they work.
9. Wesís Guaranteed Physical Therapy Method
Get your butt out of bed and go to the gym. Youíre going to want to work out your entire body, focusing on the large muscle groups with compound lifts. And yes, youíre going to want to concentrate on the injured parts too: just do so safely. Be smart, listen to your body and donít hurt yourself further. I started back this time barely able to bench the bar and had to add like 125 lbs of assistance in order to do a pull-up. But I was doing bench presses and pull-ups and using my body. And my body responded by healing itself.
Even if you have a cast on your arm, you can still work out your legs and use some of the back and ab and shoulder machines. Doing machine squats and other big lifts like that helps trigger body-wide, hormonal responses, building muscle and strengthening bone.
Eat super healthy, too. Give your body the tools it needs to repair the damage.
And just get out of the house and be active. It doesnít matter if it takes you three hours to do something it took you thirty minutes to do before, youíre doing it and youíll get a little better at it every time.
10. Itís Not Worth It
As you might know, or might surmise from the above, injuring yourself stinks. You really donít want to do it. The toll ó financially, psychologically, on your relationships and to your work ó is more than youíll ever know, until youíve done it. So donít do it. You donít need to be the fastest guy on that group ride or get where youíre going precisely on time. Nor do you need to be the coolest looking guy at the party or save cab fare on the way home. Motorcycling is always going to be dangerous, itís always going to be risky, but itís a lot more enjoyable when youíre overcoming that danger and managing those risks than it is when youíre laying in a hospital bed.