Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And This Is Why I Always Wear a Helmet: My First Motorcycle Crash

I totally wiped out on the bike Monday.  I'm not talking about "dropping" my bike either, but full on laying it down.  It happened so fast I'm still not exactly sure what happened.  I was making a left turn and I felt it getting away from me.  I was turning too wide, either because I wasn't leaning enough to make the turn or because I was trying to take it too fast.  There was a large patch of sand at the side of the road, and I was headed straight for it.  Knowing that sand and motorcycles do not play well with each other, I was not a happy camper.  I could see disaster heading straight for me. I don't know if it was the sand that made me lose control or if I tried to over-correct my turn to avoid the sand by leaning too much or if I just panicked and tried to turn the handlebars.  Anyone who rides a bike knows that you do NOT turn by turning the handlebars! I have no clue which one caused my crash, but it seemed that in about a single instant I went from seeing that sand coming my way and realizing that I wasn't going to make the turn to feeling my head smack against the pavement and then poor Molly and I were lying on our sides in that giant patch of sand.

I can't believe I wasn't hurt more than I was.  I NEVER get on a bike without wearing a helmet, even when I'm riding behind someone else.  I can only imagine how badly my head would have been hurt if I wasn't wearing mine.  It hit hard enough to scrape the side of the helmet and knock my visor off its track and put in a small crack. Yet I didn't even get so much as a mild headache. Whew!  Considering how bruised and scraped some of the rest of me is, I'm really glad my noggin was protected!  I was wearing jeans, some sturdy Keen hiking shoes, and my North Face jacket.  My poor left knee got the worst of the damage.  It managed to get scraped and bruised in two different spots - right on the patella and below it, where you might skin your knee if you feel down. I've got lots of bruising all over both legs, and some scratches on the lower part of my left leg. And my left hand is torn up pretty badly.  It hurts like the dickens, mostly because the worst part is right where my palm creases, so every time I move my thumb it stretches and folds the wound.  Ouch! When we stopped moving, I realized my left ankle and foot were under the bike.  It took me a few minutes to be able to find a way to lift the bike off my leg.  That beast is pretty heavy, especially when I've got one foot trapped under it and can't brace myself for more leverage. I was worried I was going to have more damage to my foot or ankle, but thankfully it wasn't anything more than bruises and scrapes.  Those rugged shoes really did a good job protecting my feet!

I was very glad to have my cell phone in my jacket pocket too, especially when I realized I couldn't pick the bike up on my own.  The tires were raised up on the curb, and with all that sand it made it even harder to try to get it lifted.  I could move it some, but not enough to get it all the way up. Looks like I need to start lifting heavier weights. Luckily for me, I have a super awesome friend, Sam, who I can always count on to help me out no matter what.  I gave him a call and he left work to come rescue me.  He was a Navy Corpsman and served with both the Navy and the Marines, so his medical knowledge came in handy too.  After he drove my bike home for me and I drove his vehicle, he gave me a thorough exam to make sure I wasn't hurt more than I realized. I had pretty much decided if I could move all my limbs and wasn't bleeding profusely I was probably fine. He knows better, so he took care of me and made sure I was truly okay.

Despite sliding across pavement on my side, and despite the bruises and scrapes I received, my bike and my clothes survived quite nicely.  I can't believe with as much damage as my knee took that my jeans didn't even scuff, much less rip. They were dusty, and that's about it. My shoes look perfect except for, oddly enough, the inside of the tongue on the left shoe.  So weird!  How in the world did I tear the INSIDE of my shoe? Pure talent, readers.  Pure talent. And there is a very itty bitty spot on the sleeve of my jacket that has a scuff. And Molly handled the crash very well too. Her previous owners had installed crash pegs on her side to protect the body and the engine in the event of a crash.  I can now attest that they worked wonders!  Not a single scratch, scuff or dent on the body or engine.  My windshield is scuffed on the side, and the crash peg is scraped and scuffed pretty good, but otherwise the only real damage was to the shift lever, the peg of which snapped off.  But I ordered the replacement today and by the time I receive it and get it installed I should be healed up enough to get back out on the road for some more practice!  I should probably focus on my turns, don't you think?


  1. I'm glad you're not hurt worse than you are! I didn't realize Molly was so heavy. Thank goodness for helmets and pegs. I think you're supposed to replace your helmet now, aren't you?

    I once watched a guy on a bike wipe out right in front of me on a patch of sand at the bottom of an entrance ramp to the highway. He gave it just a little gas as he turned, and the rear wheel went right out from under him sideways. Thankfully I was quick on the brake, or I would have run over him.

  2. Marvin - She's just under 400 pounds. Not as heavy as some bikes, but it's still a lot of weight! Yes, I think once you wreck with your helmet it is supposed to be replaced.

    I'm sure the guy was very grateful that you didn't run him over! He was probably hurting enough already.

  3. Wow! Thank goodness you're okay! Were you out there by yourself? I mean, did nobody stop to help?

  4. Margaret - Yes, I was out there by myself. I'm still trying to learn how to ride so I'm not ready to go out in traffic. There is a loop near my neighborhood that only has a handful of houses, some of which are still under construction, so there aren't very many options for help. But people also use the loop for walking their dogs, riding bikes or skating, and running. My neighbor was out walking her dog after the accident happened and while I was waiting for Sam to get to me. She offered to help but there wasn't much she could do, and I told her I already had a friend on the way so she didn't need to get her husband as she had also offered.

    I was torn between being glad nobody saw me wipe out and wishing someone was there who was strong enough to help me pick up my bike! :)