By Dave Thomas
Shit. Everything hurt. I slowly realized I was in a hospital bed, with all the requisite IVs and wires attached to every limb of my body. Eyes focusing on those around me, I recognized the worried faces of my family. Turns out, I had been out for a ride before work on my 650RR and someone turned in front of me. My ankle was already in an air cast awaiting the application of the more substantial fiberglass job that would constitute my footwear for the next few months. I could easily see the bend in my wrist that wasn’t supposed to be there. There were bruises galore, with some gravel and glass for good measure.
This wasn’t the first time my family had explained what happened. As is common with severe concussions, I was regressing and resetting the timeline in my mind. They initially let me have my phone, however they had to take it away when I kept trying to call my paramedic instructor to let him know I wouldn’t make clinicals that week. I had left the program 18 months earlier.
As bad as it sounds, I was a lucky one. I hit the car broadside at about 40mph. I went over the handlebars of the bike and through the passenger window. Normally this wouldn’t have been much of an issue, except for the passenger. I hit this poor kid in the side of the face with my helmet, shattering his jaw. While I was coming out of a massive concussion, he was in surgery to repair his face. The driver walked away without a scratch.
Doctors couldn’t put me on crutches or a scooter due to the multiple breaks in my wrist, so I was relegated to the wheelchair. It never dawns on you how many people will simply stare at someone in a wheelchair until you’re the person they’re staring at. Add to that living in a second floor apartment with no elevator, and it’s a good recipe for depression. So naturally, I did what any sane person would do while recovering from a motorcycle accident.
I bought another bike.
A Ducati Monster, to be precise. While in a wheelchair, my Dad and I pulled a trailer down to Overland Park, KS, and hauled my totally rational new purchase back to my apartment. I’d wheel my happy ass over to my garage between classes and tinker on it, getting everything sorted out and back up to snuff. I might have taken it out for some minor test runs once my cast was off. I had plenty of time to tinker, on account of the fact that my boss fired me while I was in the hospital.
The Duc was a ticket-getting fucker; it was downright angry if you tried to keep it under 45mph. After the third in two months, I figured it was more advantageous to let someone else deal with it. It didn’t slow me down though; I’ve had probably three bikes since then, and I’m currently on a Yamaha Roadstar Warrior 1700. I’ll admit, some of the most fun you can have is throwing a little 250 around, but there’s something to be said about the sheer presence a 103+ V-Twin puts off.
My grandfather told me something when I started learning how to ride on an old Yamaha RD350a. He said: “When it comes to going down, there’s two types of riders: Those that have, and those that will. Know it’s going to happen, because you won’t avoid it forever.” I keep a photo of what was left of my 650RR from that day as a reminder. I may not be overly cautious, but you can damn sure believe I’m vigilant.
I’ve been on two wheels in one form or another for close to 30 years, and so far a motorcycle is the second best antidepressant I’ve found. So twist the throttle and slide into the grave sideways, because it’s no fun if you just fade away.
Editor’s Note: Dave found another job—one that fits his mindset and his lifestyle—at Warfighter Tobacco Co. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check it out. The company’s motto? “Stay dangerous.”