Today Was Not A Good Day To Die

Today was a warm day in my area.  Unusually warm for the middle of January.  It was warm enough that I decided to take my motorcycle for a spin since I was getting home earlier than usual.  I inflated the tires to the proper pressure, and off I went.  I reached the turn exiting my neighborhood at the traffic light.  The cross street was 45 mph.  The light was red, so I stopped, and then proceeded forward.  As I was going around the turn, I hit the throttle slightly to accelerate, and my rear wheel slipped out from underneath me.  I managed to briefly get the motorcycle upright again, but I was slipping and sliding all over the place.  What was about to happen was inevitable, and fear overtook me.  I just loosened up as much as I could, and as I headed towards the curb, I made one last attempt to avoid injury by jumping from the bike.

I failed.  Although I cleared the bike, I slid head first into the curb, and my helmet hit the curb with a crack.  I felt some pain in my ribs on the left side, under my arm, and I turned over on my back.  I lied there wondering if the pain was going to get worse.  I also wondered why I had not blacked out.  A voice asked if I was OK, and for a moment I couldn’t speak.  She asked if I needed an ambulance, and I told her I didn’t know.  I stood up.  I was OK.  The pain in my ribs was getting worse, and right now it hurts like a bitch, let me tell you, but I’m OK.

I examined the situation.  I looked at the curb that my head smashed into and it was not a 90 degree curb.  It was slanted, maybe 30 degrees at most.  My visor was smashed, but my helmet only had a couple of scratches on it.  The ambulance came.  Of course my pulse and blood pressure were up there, but my eyes were clear, and reacting equally.  I supposed this meant that I probably didn’t have a concussion.  The paramedics asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I said I didn’t think I needed to.  Maybe I will go.  My ribs hurt pretty bad.  But we will see how it goes.

I looked around at the shattered pieces of my motorcycle.  All in all, it isn’t too bad.  The gauge cluster is gone.  The key is jammed in the ignition.  The mirrors will need to be tightened, and the front brake lever replaced.  The valve cover gasket is scratched.  The exhaust is dented.  The turn signals on the front are bent, but functional.  The throttle will also need to be replaced.  It’s not going to be cheap, and neither was the tow truck ride home.  See the cops called the tow truck, at my request (stupid because people helped me get the bike out of the road), so the 1/4 mile back to my house cost me $250.  But I’m OK.

So many people stopped to help.  Everyone from the paramedics, to the police officer, to the tow truck driver to all of the other people that stopped to help, it just really made me feel taken care of when I needed it the most.

My motorcycle is in my garage.  Maybe I will fix it soon, or maybe I’ll wait a while.  But one thing is for sure, I’m getting back on it.  Either it, or another one, that is for sure.

Two things happened tonight that made it so that I could stand up and walk away.  The first was that I was wearing a full face helmet.  Not a half helmet, or a skull cap, a full face helmet.  The second was that the curb was not at a ninety degree angle.  Who knows where I would be right now if either of these things was different.

A war story, this is not.  A great dramatic ending is not what you are going to get.  I just had to write this down anyway, because you would not believe the fear I felt as I was going down and headed for that curb, and the relief I feel now.  Thank you to the people who helped me tonight, and thank you to the city planner who decided to make that curb a slanted one.

7 thoughts on “Today Was Not A Good Day To Die”

  1. The first time I was on a motorcycle I hit some gravel while making a turn and both the bike and I went down. No serious damage to either the cycle or me. Fortunately, while I have taken a few spills since that first time, I’ve survived them all with but a few scrapes and bruises. Of course, I have now retired from motorcycling.

    1. This was my first major fall (going more than 2 miles per hour in a parking lot). At 46 years old I have been riding now for about 3 years, and I see this as a learning experience. On my last motorcycle this would not have happened. That bike was a fairly heavy cruiser without a lot of torque. This bike, while no forward leaning, crotch rocket by any means, has twice the torque and 2 1/2 times the horsepower of my old one and weighs 40 lbs less. I simply leaned a little too far and gave it a little too much twist for the salty, sandy road, and the cooler weather. I would suspect you don’t have to deal with salt on the road very often in SF.

      So now I have a 2013 Honda CB1100 in the garage which is unrideable, and will cost me thousands to fix if it can be fixed. Right now I’m saving, my cash for my trip to Africa next fall. Once that is paid for, then I’ll think about repairing the motorcyle. The one thing that is certain is that I will be back in the saddle just a little bit wiser that the last time.

  2. My first bike was a Yamaha Twin Jet 100, hardly more than a scooter. Then I got a Kawasaki KZ-400 (“let the good times roll”). And then a Suzuki G750S. But those were long ago and far away. My version of being “a little bit wiser” these days is to stay off of motorcycles!

    1. You certainly won’t get hurt in a motorcycle accident if you are not on a motorcycle, but you will also miss the thrill of riding. At first for me it was about the thrill, and then as soon as I got out on the road for the first time it was also about overcoming fear. The fear is pretty much gone, replaced with an understanding of what is not under my control when riding and what is. What happened on Monday was due to a lack of experience, and a mistake on my part. These things are under my control. Getting hit by someone who doesn’t see me is not under my control, unless if course I don’t ride.

      When my time is up, it is up. Until that time I’m going to try to do as many things as I can that put a smile on my face, as long as they are not destructive to others or to myself. When riding a motorcycle is causing me more pain than joy, that is when I will stop riding. I’m just not there yet, and I don’t have a wife or kids depending on me at the moment to make it worth my while to stop riding, unless you count a dog and two cats as kids. Maybe when priorities in my life change I will reconsider for that reason also.

      1. Go for it as long as you feel that way. I used to love riding my motorcycle, but I’ve seen too many unhappy endings, either due to rider error or to those things not under the rider’s control. And so I no longer throw caution to the wind in order to feel bugs hitting my teeth. I guess I’ve gotten to that age where my hand-eye coordination is not what it once was and where my mortality is more present than it used to be. There are other, safer ways, me thinks, for me to put a smile on my face.

        But if riding your motorcycle is what sets your blood flowing, by all means, let ‘er ride!

      2. You have reached the point where riding a motorcycle causes you more pain, or anxiety, or grief if you will than the pleasure it gave you.  I can understand that.  In terms of addiction that is called a bottom.  I, however am still an active motorcycle addict.  

        By the way, if you wear a proper helmet and you wear it properly, you don’t get any bugs in your teeth.  People seem to think helmet laws are ridiculous because the only person affected if you are not wearing a helmet is you.  As I’m sure you are aware, even when you are wearing a full faced helmet, if the visor is open and you hit a bug going 70 mph it hurts, is distracting, and can cause you to lose control of your bike.  That’s why I always wear a full faced helmet with the visor closed.

        Sent from Samsung tablet

      3. I was being facetious. I always wore a helmet with a visor and my bikes had fairings and windscreens.

        I was never “addicted” to riding my motorcycle. It was just something I liked to do every once in a while. But I did reach the point where I thought the risks outweighed the rewards. And so I sold the bike in favor of safer modes of transportation. But it was fun while it lasted!

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