I wasn’t going to write about my motorcycle crash. After all, us bikers don’t like to think about that kind of thing too much.
But I’ve come to realize that writing about something is part of the way I process it and – surprise! – I have something to say, both to bikers and to, well, folks in general.
I say crash (rather than accident) because that’s truly what it was. I was in a left-hand curve when I hit some gravel with my back tire. It pulled the bike toward the outside of the curve. I’m convinced I still could have recovered (you don’t go 29 years of riding without encountering gravel) except for the fact that there were some cracks in the asphalt there. Long story short I crashed into a guardrail.
The bike was totaled. I walked away with road rash, bruising, whiplash and what turned out to be a broken finger on my right hand. That I walked away was a miracle in itself. (I told my kids that I had borrowed their guardian angel!) And I’ll always hold a fondness for my Yamaha Raider, which took the brunt of the impact instead of my body.
But here’s the million-dollar question, the one that bikers and non-bikers alike have asked (although non-bikers far more): will I ride again?
The answer is an unequivocal hell yes!
I’ve ridden motorcycles for 29 years, and some of my best memories are related to bikes, and I’ve met some of the neatest people doing it.
But here’s the thing I most want to say:
Anything worth having or doing in life carries a risk. It may be a physical risk, like motorcycling (or skiing or jumping out of planes). Or it may be a mental or emotional risk, like taking a chance on a relationship. Without risk you won’t have much of a life. Not the kind of life I want to lead, for sure.
I had this discussion with my kids shortly after the accident. The point I wanted to make is that you do what you can to minimize risk (I don’t go screaming into corners; I wear protective clothing; and my helmet likely saved me from having to be airlifted) but don’t avoid it altogether.
Did they get the message? Several weeks after the crash I asked my son (who is 12) how he felt about me getting another motorcycle and riding again. He looked thoughtful for a moment and then he said, “Well, I’m not sure I want to ride with you…”
I laughed, but I knew then he was getting the bigger message, because he wasn’t surprised that I wanted to ride again. My kids see their mom (or others for that matter) taking risks in life, and they’ll learn to do the same.
If I had died in that crash, here’s what I would hope to hear at my funeral: Man, she really lived life to max, didn’t she? She died doing something she loves. She didn’t let fear stop her from experiencing everything life has to offer.
Because there is fear. It would be foolish not to fear at times. When I rode for the first time after the crash (here’s me giving the Victory sign as best I can with my finger in a brace) I was nervous. It was doubly weird because I wasn’t used to being the passenger. (Many thanks to my brave husband for everything, but especially for understanding my need to get ‘back in the saddle’ sooner rather than later and taking me riding.)
To other bikers I say: The odds are definitely not in our favor out there. So a little fear is OK, even helpful. Because we’ve got to stay vigilant and not let our guard down. So be prepared, but don’t let fear rob your joy – in motorcycling as well as the rest of life.
Now do what I would do, and get out there and ride!