Big Price for a Little Inattention
About 5 weeks ago I was riding with a buddy on an oil lease in North Texas. We had been on some boring, flat gravel roads. One road turned on to another and so on, all in a kind of grid pattern. I had ridden gravel roads a lot, I had knobbies on the GS, and we were loping along at 30-40 mph in pretty relaxed fashion.
My buddy up ahead comes to a T and turns right. Yet another flat boring easy right turn. I have plenty of time to make the turn. I have the bars rotated upwards a bit for when I am standing, although I take the turn seated. GPS says I was doing 27 mph.
I thought the bike was straight up as I pull the front brake to slow the bike before starting the turn. I remember that front brake well because in a split second later I am getting a close look at the front wheel which seems to have tucked and dug in. An instant later I hit the ground shoulder first.
Neither I nor the bike seem to slide. Its like I was made of Velcro. The bike and I are side by side with me "above" the seat. After what seemed like a whole lot of screaming I find myself in a crumpled up ball.
It takes 30 minutes to get an ambulance, and at least a miserable 30 minute ride out. X-rays at the first hospital showed 8 broken ribs, 5 of them twice, flailed chest syndrome (because of all the broken ribs), broken collar bone, broken scapula, and a punctured lung. That led to another ambulance ride to a second hospital, a day in ICU, and a few days in the trauma ward, followed three weeks later by surgery on my shoulder and another day in the hospital.
Now it looks like this:
Two weeks from now I start 2-3 months of therapy on my shoulder.
AS best as I can figure, I had gotten too comfortable on the bike. Being seated with the bars rotated up had the effect of increasing the effort I had put on the front brake, causing the front wheel to lock up (ABS off), the front wheel to tuck, and the bike (and me) to hit the ground hard. I had absolutely no time to react which troubles me. I had taken the BMW off-road school a couple of years ago where we practiced locking up and recovering a locked front wheel. Well that didn't happen.
I am ATGATT, wearing a BMW Rallye 3 jacket, with CE rated armor everywhere including the shoulder. I am left wondering how much this armor did for me. I will say that I didn't have a scratch on me (but some seriously nasty bruises) beyond all the broken and punctured stuff.
So as I sit around healing I am still shocked at how fast it happened and how much damage was caused for the speed I was going. Is my internal calculator off, or would you say this is what you would expect? I know people get killed for less, and others walk away unscathed from a uglier crash. I am just trying to figure out where on the scale I come out. I love riding, but if this is the price I have to pay for the next off then maybe not. I also want to make sure I know what happened so I don't do it again.
Thanks for reading and I welcome any thoughts on this.
30 cam certainly hurt, but what, 15 breaks? That seems a lot of damage to me. Maybe you just hit a bit funny in the gravel like you said. Maybe something worth bringing up with you doctor?
Other than that, how have you been doing? Glad youre healing up and have a good idea what caused it.
That sucks, you certainly paid a very high price for a small accident. Just put that one down being very unlucky this time around. From what I can gather, which is a pure guess, the speed had little to do with your injuries. It was probably more the force of falling from a tall bike, and hitting the ground hard. If you had been doing 60, it might have turned out exactly the same... Just look at people that fall off of horses, very bad injuries while doing about 2 MPH... You ask if ATGATT helped you out, we know it works, so I would bet really good money that you would have been much worse off without it. It is to easy to feel invincible in ATGATT though, it is good, but it is not Magic. If you hit hard, its not going to turn out well.
Your memory of the accident is most likely not good, this happens all time. Be careful not to get into the mindset that if you don't remember it, it did not happen. Maybe something really bad happened in that accident that you just don't remember, that might explain your injuries.
Is it worth the price, now that is the question !!! I have been there asking that one myself. My answer was yes, and no... I do not ride in traffic anymore, there is no way you can possibly control or avoid an accident in traffic. You can avoid many of them, BUT, Sooner or later, someone will do something really stupid, and there will be nothing the rider can do about it. I still ride off Road, and on roads where there is virtually no traffic. But this means I ride a lot less than I would like to..
JettPilot said it. It is not speed per se that causes injuries like yours - and mine. Often it is the acceleration forces. If you have ever dropped a bike like the GS stopped you will often be surprised how far you get flung by the beast. I have been tossed clear across a lane by mine.
Acceleration and angle of impact etc. etc. all can result in serious trauma.
I had a tib/fib fracture from an off at 70 mph. I had a fib shatter at o mph. In both cases I had no other injuries at all, nothing.
To ride or not? Part of the game on two wheels, powered or not.
Heal up, I feel your pain and your pensiveness.
I had a very similar result from a lower speed fall in some sandy whoops on a DR650.
The front tire dug in and high sided me into the next sandy whoop, with the bike behind. They were very big whoops.
I was 53 years old and bones just snap when they would not have at 25, or 30, or 40.
I had almost the exact same bones broken but also did my spine and spleen.
Long nasty ride out to the helicopter.
Some other riders found me and got a pickup truck to get me out.
I had tried to lift the bike and almost got it up, but not quite.
What were you doing with the front brake???
Lock the back up and slide the bike into the turn, anything but the front brake in the dirt.
I use the back brake to the max, and only use the front brake if I am going to hit something and need to stop faster then the back brake allows (mostly).
I notice all the x ray pictures are from people riding big bikes in the dirt, 600cc's and up, and mostly older guys.
I sold the DR650 and got a TW200, and never fell on that bike.
I am looking for something faster but not heavier...
I think I was back on the bike in about 8 weeks.
Short term, the ribs are the worst, long term its the spine, but the shoulder stuff bugs me from time to time.
Just do not let your son who has a cold visit, nothing like a cold and lots of broken ribs!
And trade your bike in on a wr250 or some such.
Could be a gs is to god damn front end heavy
One second you're up, next split second you're wondering wtf?
I use the front brake off pavement, just gotta be smooth and careful but it helps a lot. I ride conservatively, I don't think I'll bounce too good at 53.
Good thoughts flowing that way on a speedy recovery.
Whew. That was a lot of damage from a little getoff. Your profile suggests that you're not a noob and might suggest you're not a geezer, so I dunno. Could you just have fragile bones? Something to bounce off the Doctor...
Well, it worked real well in this case.
Anytime traction is limited, I am real careful with the front brake, why use it if you do not need it?
Racing for money, yes, maybe I would use it more...
Thanks for all the well wishes, shared experience and insight. As I said I have a few months before I can ride so I have some time to think about what I am going to do. I have heard from a lot of people who have taken a hard fall on road bikes as well as motorcycles and I gather having second thoughts about riding is pretty natural.
My buddy I was riding with said the gravel was really loose, and the ranch manager who came out to help the ambulance get me out quicker told him that the road recently had been re-graveled. Maybe an extra loose surface with a careless pull on the front brake added up to this.
I have learned a lot though beyond the obvious. Like how important it is to have a riding buddy with you. I had a spot on a ram mount that went flying, and a cell phone somewhere in my jacket. I might have been able to fish the phone out eventually, but a couple feeble tries and I was content to wait and have someone else do it. If you take a hard fall and can't reach the Spot or a phone and there isn't likely to be traffic going by, it doesn't matter if you are in Big Bend National Park or an hour from downtown Dallas.
I learned that no matter what the gear, those half-inch thick shoulder pads don't mean diddly if you hit hard and don't slide.
I am 56 so maybe brittle as hell--but my mind is young :gerg I might take Brett's advice and find a smaller bike when playing on dirt. But damn, if I break 15 bones doing under 30, what will happen on pavement going, say, 65? :waysad
I also learned that pain meds will stop you up something awful. I am on a steady diet of Myralax and Flomax to keep all systems operational even long after stopping most of the pain meds except one at night to help me sleep. Even without the pills I haven't had nearly as much pain as everyone thinks I should. Mainly just a lot of aches, but not the sharp pain people associate with broken bones. Although I sneezed once and thought I was going to pass out. As some one said, don't catch a cold with broken ribs. But me? I am doing great. One week out from PT and that (hopefully) will be the beginning of the end of this little adventure.
Heal well and fast! You're right, though...you will have some time to think things over. I'm 54 and have never broken any bones but have a strong aversion toward doing so.
The only crash I've experienced in 4 years of riding was a hard low-side slam at 35 mph after locking my DR 650's front brake on pavement as a n00b, with only 2 month's riding experience. Fortunately I was wearing good gear, including a pressure suit, that prevented any injuries.
Since that time, I have consistently worn gear that includes a minimum of pressure suit (or equivalent spine and chest protectors), armored shorts and articulated plastic knee armor under my textile gear. For the past year, I have been wearing a Hit-Air vest over Knox spine and chest protectors, with separate shoulder and elbow protectors. Gearing up takes a couple of minutes longer than simply slipping on a jacket and pants but I feel that the small amount of time spent is very worthwhile.
I did have one 2-3 mph tipover on my DL650 while wearing the Hit-Air vest and it inflated as advertised. It felt like I was cocooned by a very firm marshmallow of airy goodness and there was no soreness from the impact. I certainly didn't need that at 2-3 mph but I do feel that it would be very protectective to my ribs, abdomen, spine, tailbone and neck in the event of a serious crash. It would probably also offer some protection to the collar bones due to the reduction of forces from lateral motion of the neck.
To my knowledge, there is no currently available technology that offers any more impact protection for motorcycling than what I have been wearing, aside from possibly wearing different brands of armor under my gear.
Anyway, it's a personal choice for each of us to decide what risks are acceptable relative to the rewards involved in motorcycling. Many riders fall off their bikes and climb back on but I certainly have no lack of respect for those who decide to minimize risks and pursue other interests in life. Best wishes in your recovery!
On the road, I think you slide, unless you hit something, so armor pays off a lot more there.
Those dirt crashes with the sudden stops seem to be what gets the older guys, and big heavy tall bikes don't help.
I was also well padded but it did not help at all.
I never thought about NOT riding, but at first I thought I would give up dirt riding. That quickly changed into just not dirt riding anything over 300 pounds and tall.
That changed into not riding any big heavy bike, even on the street.
The TW200 was a good transition pick, it was fun going places I would not take other bikes, and it was very easy to ride in the sand, low, on the light side, and did not have the suspension to do high speed over rough stuff. You seek out stuff you would avoid on other bikes, like mud and swamps, and miles of thick sand trails.
The idea is to have fun, and smaller lighter bikes are fun, and easy to ride which makes them even more fun.
I am not sure anything helps with the pain meds.
Its just like you are on a diet of cement, or fast setting epoxy.
I guess you get an idea what childbirth must be like though...
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