It all started here August 15th, 2010 >>> http://k11og.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9187 July 15th, 2011 - I posted "I'll see your gauntlet and raise you one Iron Butt 50CC and one or two Bun Burner Golds! Take that my feathered friend :razz" The 50CC is the same ride I almost died on in 2007. I wanted to re-attempt it and this is the first year I'm physically and mentally ready to try again. In 2007 while attempting an Iron Butt 50CC to raise money for A Special Wish Foundation I crashed at over 70 mph that resulted a severe concussion, burst fracture T6 and T7, and fractures of T5 through T10 left lateral spinus processes and a left clavicle fracture. I got a chopper ride I don't remember. I lost 9 days time and still suffer from memory issues and the damage to my spine causes me chronic pain, esp. with riding. It's still a small price to pay to give a little something to dying children and I raised $12,900 none the less. The only explanation for the crash that was witnessed was that I had fallen asleep. In 2007 I had over 300,000 miles of riding experience and still I missed the clues that I needed to get off the bike and stay off. The witness was Angie Bowen and I owe her my life and eternal gratitude. A year after the crash I contacted her to tell me what happened because I still couldn't remember. This is what she sent me. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "It took me a couple of days to find it, but this is what I wrote in my diary the night after it happened. This morning on the way to the dairy we witnessed motorcycle / semi accident. I guess that isn't a fair evaluation, the semi didn't have anything to do with the motorcycle going down, and it didn’t hit the biker, nor she it. I was driving immediately behind the semi and it swerved, overcompensated and rolled one of the two trailers he was pulling. Then the bike was in front of us, half in the lane and I had to swerve to miss it. We stopped immediately to help (well, I did, I guess my poor students were just along for the ride by virtue of having no choice). One of the undergrads in my van managed to flag someone down to get a flare and cross the road while I called 911 and Kelly looked for a flashlight in the van. Carrie and Camry found the biker but didn't touch her and were afraid of getting close. Being the “do now, evaluate later” creature that I am, I tore across the highway (probably not a great idea in the daylight, let alone when it is pitch black) with my emergency blanket and immediately started to try to evaluate her. There was no bleeding and nothing terribly crooked, which is always a good sign. She was not in good shape but had all her gear and a helmet on. She couldn’t say anything intelligible at first, just shrieking and moaning and trying to thrash. I pinned her head to the floor with one hand via her helmet and held her hand with the other and kept her talking as best I could when she was responsive and from thrashing. I got her name, birth date that she was on a cross country charity ride, her fiancé's name and where she was going. She gave me her name after asking a couple of times. At first she couldn't remember and it was hard to restrain her without hurting her. She asked me over and over to make it stop hurting when she wasn’t able to answer any questions. She was so scared and confused. No one else really wanted to come near, but maybe it was better for her to not come to and have a bunch of people standing around her. I can't even describe the horror at knowing there was nothing more I could do for this woman in pain and confused and terrified than to hold her hand and tell her help was coming and keep her from moving. It felt so completely inadequate. The look in her eyes when she was pleading with me to let her up and make it stop hurting will never stop haunting me. Help got there and everyone assumed I was a nurse or an EMT from the way I handled it and since I "did everything right". I did what any other human being should do, but there must have been 20 cars that drove by before the highway patrol got there and ONLY ONE of them stopped or asked out the window if there was anything they could do. I hate people. It was a while before the highway patrol got there and I was so relieved that someone was there to take over I almost laughed. Highway patrol decided I had everything under control when I gave the woman's name and so forth and updated her on pain and such as the woman described it to me and went and started directing traffic and confirmed for air evac. I instantly felt nauseous from feeling like someone who could help she be sitting there with her. Part of me had expected the woman to be dead when we found her or that she would die with me holding her hand on the highway. I felt horrible that no one had gone to check on the semi when it was all said and done, but apparently I sent someone to look for him before I ran across the highway. I can't remember doing it but they said I was directing people the whole time from the time we stopped until the paramedics got there, and didn’t have any qualms telling the police and highway patrol and paramedics and emergency operator where to go and what to do when they got there either. Turns out the first aid and leadership training pay off in a crunch I guess. It is also probably a good thing that none of them took offense to some critter they didn’t even know who had no obvious authority bossing them. I am still nauseous from coming down off the adrenaline. I called Dr. Ax as soon as we were done filling out incident reports, of course being an avid rider himself he was horrified to hear someone going down on the 10. He was great about not getting any data that day and took care of everything with Frank and what not. By the time I got to my classes, the whole department knew and kept wanting all the details. Thanks to Michelle, who was there this morning, they decided to leave it after she said she wasn’t sure we were allowed to talk about it. The skid marks on the highway and median and damage to her helmet were unreal. I can't imagine ever going down like that and sincerely hope she doesn't remember any of it. It is haunting me, but to live through that? No thanks. I just hope everything is ok. Kelly sent some flowers from the group of us, but the hospital won’t tell us anything or let us talk to her. She has the right to her privacy, I just hope she is ok. Time to find something to calm myself. Like a drink perhaps. Or a bucket of them." I hope this helps. It was hard to read again but great to know it all ended as well as can be expected! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I didn't know it in 2007 but I had sleep apnea. I most likely had it for the prior 10 years but wrote off the chronic fatigue, the need for long naps, the falling asleep if I was still for shortest periods, and the need to pull over when driving or riding to nap as being a old, fat nightshift worker. I've been using a CPAP for the last year and I can't tell you what a positive change it's made in my life. There was something that worried me though; I wasn't sure Steve would approve of the 50CC re-attempt. I had failed in the past and he had to live through the following year. I was in a lot of pain for most of that year and it was hard on him. I would not attempt it if he said 'no' in any way, so I was prepared to get to the west coast slower if need be. One of the founding principles of our relationship is "I'm not the boss of you". We're both adults and love and respect each other, but we strive to not tell the other what to do or not. This is hard sometime, especially with the stakes are so high. Steve agreed to not stand in my way about the 50cc. I would be traveling with a Spot Tracker so he could keep close tabs on where I was. I also wanted to pre-riding the DustyButt 1000 route which is a 1000 miles on dirt in less than 24 hour ride, weather permitting. Since I'll be on my 1996 K1100RS for this ride, 1000 miles solo on dirt in both day and night will be entertaining. I set aside 48 hours for this and had made contact with Rod aka old2wheeler to be my backup should I have any problems. As for pre-trip prep, there wasn't much. It's covered in the last pages in this thread http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=408937&page=6 Basically basic maintenance and a way to charge a special battery that would power my CPAP if I couldn't find AC power, no fuel cell and just an extra watch to keep Eastern Time. My plan was to change the bike clock to local time. That didn't work out. I also made an evap. cooling shirt 'cause Texas in August was going to be hot. http://k11og.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10602 What's that stupid little saying...'if you love something set it free...' I've always said Steve is the wind beneath my wings. Day 1 July 29 Fri Culpeper to Jacksonville Beach I packed the bike the night before of all but a few things and Steve saw me off in the morning. I got to the second stop light and I notice a LOT of smoke coming off the bike. I was thinking, “I don’t think I wasted THAT much oil or transmission lube, WTH”. I rode to the first gas station, about 7 blocks up, pulled in and got off. Let me tell you something; there is nothing to prepare you for seeing your bike on fire AT THE GAS PUMP!! I start stripping off my helmet and jacket. (I don’t have a clue why) And as God as my witness I can’t believe what I did next. Yes, I tried to blow it out. Holy shit Gwen! What the hell were you thinking!!! Well, obviously you weren’t thinking. Idiot! I grab the windshield cleaner thingy and start soaking the exhaust header hoping to cool it down enough that whatever was dripping on it wouldn’t catch fire. It worked. Ok…calm down and think Gwen…what is that dripping on the exhaust? What did you do or NOT do to cause this? I assessed the bike and watched to make sure it doesn’t light up again. All I could conclude was that I had over filled the transmission. Right next door was a tire shop so I push the bike over there, put it on the center stand and went inside. I explained my situation and asked to borrow an oil pan and a plastic bag. They provided those and I went about draining the tranny oil. My plan was to keep the oil clean, find out exactly how much SHOULD be in there and then refill it reusing that oil. I called Steve to let him know where I was and what was going on and he insisted that he would bring the trailer, load the bike and take it back home to sort things out there. So that’s what we did. Basically I “thought” I knew how much to put in and was wrong. Does RTFM ring a bell? After putting the right amount in and cleaning all the oil off the bike, I once again gear up to leave. Steve said, “It’s all part of the adventure” as he could tell I was a bit flustered by the whole affair. The ride from Culpeper, VA to Jacksonville Beach, FL went smoothly. Along the way I sorted out some things and tried out the cooling shirt which worked well. I found a hotel and ate my left over chicken nuggets I bought hours prior, a mushed banana and a yogurt bar. Day 2 July 30 Sat Depart Jacksonville Beach at 1800 for 50CC The next day I slept in late on purpose because I was planning to start my 50CC at 1800. I showered and then did the difficult and uncomfortable business of inserting an 8F Foley catheter, securing the connection to some small tubing down my left leg and then securing that tubing to my leg in a manner that would allow for good range of motion but keep it from pulling on the inside. I then cut a hole in the left pocket of my jeans so that I could discretely release the clamp when I needed to void. I contacted Larry Meeker who had agreed to be my IBA witness to confirm the starting time and location, then found a Panara Bread for my last sitting still meal for 24 hours. It was over the next couple of hours as I sipped my coffee that the weight of what I was about to do settled heavily on my mind. I worried I would let Steve down or worse, crash again. Was I up to this mentally? Would I be able to deal with the pain? Is the bike sound? Did I forget anything? Why was I really doing this? The last stuck with me awhile. I guess it was that I didn’t want to be laying on my death bed regretting I had not at least tried to accomplish what I started. A great ER Doctor once asked me, “What’s the first rule of medicine?” I said, “First do no harm”. He replied, “No, first don’t fear it”. To quote Rafiki, “It is time”. And with that I ride to the starting point. Shortly after I get there, Larry rolls up and asks, “Are you going somewhere?” We chat a bit, do the paperwork and takes some pics. I get my fuel receipt and write in my log book. And then Larry kindly escorted me out of town and as he waved off I realize I’m on my own. I start singing in my helmet… http://youtu.be/IAfI1YFA1w0 It's my time to fly Proving ground tonight Try to be the best that I can I've grown to be a man Only human can understand I fill my lungs with fear and I exhale It's my time to fly Father, be with me tonight I'm right on target Keep the dream alive It's my turn to fly Gotta prove this tonight – Urge from TitanAE Now it’s confession time. I really enjoy riding without music because it allows my mind to sift through all the things I see and trigger snippets of songs. I would sing 3 or 4 different songs an hour on average. So I’ll share a few with you in this report but just be thankful you can't hear me sing, just sayin'. (They’ll be blue if you want to skip them) http://youtu.be/6QP8UfCxMJI The sound of strangers sending nothing to my mind Just another mad mad day on the road I am just living to be lying by your side But I'm just about a moonlight mile on down the road Made a rag pile of my shiny clothes Gonna warm my bones Gonna warm my bones I got silence on my radio Let the air waves flow Let the air waves flow Oh I'm sleeping under strange skies Just another mad mad day on the road My dreams is fading down the railway line I'm just about a moonlight mile down the road - Moonlight Mile Rolling Stones And the night start slipping behind me as I pointed her nose to the west and with a flick of the throttle we were off.