About a month later, I found out I needed to have my tonsils removed so I decided to fly back home for the operation. My brother had just bought a brand new ‘07 Suzuki SV1000, so I figured it’d be a great excuse to go home and check out his new toy. I got back the day before my operation, so he and I could spend the day riding. He came over in the morning and we suited up—I had my armored jacket, gloves and helmet, but left my boots back in Chicago—I hopped on his bike and he took my father’s Harley Soft Tail.
We started off conservatively, but I began to push the pace as I grew more confident on his wheels. We rode aggressively but we were careful not to cross over the line into recklessness. His bike was fun but I wasn’t all that impressed. It wasn’t sluggish but it felt heavy while cornering and its V-Twin engine meant it had low end grunt, but the torque quickly faded as the RPMs increased.
After an hour or so we took a break from the sun’s heat and discussed our plan. We were going to head south towards my Mom’s house to visit and have some soft drinks, it sounded good to both of us. My brother took the lead and we started down the hill at a brisk pace. As we approached a bend in the road, traveling at around 35mph, I noted two side streets on the left side with a sedan at the furthest waiting to make a left hand turn. I flashed my high-beams a few times to make sure she saw us and we moved to the outside of the lane to prep for our turn.
My brother passed her, and entered the turn. As I began to pass her I felt a strange prickling on my neck—I glanced at my left mirror on impulse and my eyes went wide with shock. I saw the green paint of her car and it knew it was way too close. Suddenly it felt like a commuter train smashed into the rear portion of my bike, and everything started to move very slowly. I felt the rear wheel yaw out hard to my right; I pushed the right handle bar with all my strength in a futile effort to keep the bike upright. But I knew it wasn’t going to recover. The bike was in major structural trouble but despite that, in some kind of sick joke, the rear tire somehow managed to regain traction and began what’s called a high side crash.
The dynamics of the crash are when the rear wheel slides and then suddenly grips again, what you essentially have is a catapult effect—the bike goes end over end and the rider is launched off the saddle like a rag doll. As I flew over the handlebars, my left thigh jammed into the windshield, lacerating it through my jeans sending me into a spin. I smashed into the guardrail—with the bike in hot pursuit—like a bat out of hell; the force was so intense that I can’t even describe it with words. Oddly enough as I hit the rail, I clearly remember smelling the burned rubber mixed with asphalt, there was no pain at that point just the unsettling sensation of air being blasted out of my lungs. It must have been an awful sight to see. I hit the rail perpendicular with my hip, my body twisted around and over the guard rail, when I finally stopped rolling I was nearly 10 feet from the road. My laced shoes were thrown from my feet, one of which couldn’t be found.
Once I hit the ground I remember my first thoughts as clear as day. “Oh my God is my back okay?” and then more morbidly “God, don’t let me die in front of my brother.”
In a panicked moment, I couldn’t breath. I forced myself to relax and the oxygen started to flow again. I flexed my fingers and toes, everything seemed to move but I was hurting all over. My arm felt like it was broken and I didn’t dare try to move, despite the fact I landed in a batch of thorn bushes.
My brother, who heard everything happen behind him, dumped his bike and ran over to where I lay. The first thing I said was, “Call 911, and make sure that chick doesn’t get away.” He was relived I was still alive. The EMTs were on scene within minutes and they rushed me to the hospital. I checked out well—luckily my head, neck and spine hadn’t received any damage. I ended up breaking two fingers and my big toe, there was a puncture wound on my right hip plus some road rash and superficial flesh wounds on my feet. My elbow was badly bruised and nearly broken, but the doctors credited my jacket for absorbing enough of the blow to keep it in tact (Cortech GX Air, in case anyone is shopping around).
When they finally put me in the recovery room, my whole family was waiting for me. I had an idea of what happened but I asked my brother what he saw. He told me the woman pulled out too early, clipped my rear wheel and I went sailing into the guard rail. I blinked. I couldn’t believe it. That’s almost exactly how my drifter friend went down in his accident. I was speechless.
I don’t think I could have done anything to avoid the accident, save maybe quitting riding altogether, but the fact that this was foretold a month prior sends shivers of uncertainty into my belief system. I suppose this could be a huge coincidence, but my gut tells me something else is at work here. I don’t know exactly what that is, but maybe there is something larger at work in this world. I’ve thought multiple times that I’d figured out the answers, but that always seems to be disproved one way or another.
Who knows what all of this means? Maybe the choice to believe in something doesn’t come from you head, but your gut? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being stubborn but what I do know is I clearly don’t have the answer to anything involving a higher power, or lack there of. But I’m sure with time I’ll figure it out.
What I do know is, I was very, very lucky to walk away from that mess. If I hadn’t spun off the windshield and hit the guardrail the way that I did, I could have had massive soft tissue damage and been in a world of hurt. Not to mention the flying 450 pound bike, that missed me by mere feet. It’s a miracle I made it out of that with only three broken digits.
My brother’s brand new bike was totaled in the wreck. He had full coverage on the motorcycle, but since he wasn’t riding it at the time of the accident he only received about half of the money he was due. He hasn’t replaced it yet. And to the dismay of my family, I’m still riding. It’s more of a practical decision than anything else. I don’t have the money for a car, and I need a way to get to work and class. The one thing that’s really changed however is that I don’t joy ride anymore, when I’m on that bike it’s all business. Once I graduate and start making better money, I’ll with out a doubt invest in a car.
Anyway, it’s kind of a surreal story so I thought I’d share it with you guys.