It was Sunday afternoon, September 13, and I was hanging around the house with the wife and kid when a call came in from some club brothers: “Hey, come hang out with us in Ojai.” I was on the road about 20 minutes later.
I remember the ride up the 101 to meet them — I was blasting along, hitting 95 at times, splitting through traffic with my head on a swivel, watching for cops with a sick certainty in the pit of my stomach that I was going to catch a ticket, but too eager to meet up with my brothers to slow down. I saw plenty of cops going the other way, especially once I got on the 33, but none of them bothered me. It was a great ride up.
I got there in about an hour and met up with the guys. There were five or six of them there, and we all hung out on the front porch for awhile, bullshitting, drinking coffee, and being entertained by the kid next door who keep coming back to tell us “jokes.” Good times. After an hour or so we decided to hit the road.
For me and the other guys who live near me in the Valley, the obvious route home was to just turn around and go back the way I had come up. Boring. Instead, we decided to make it a big loop and take the back roads to Frazier Park, then take the 5 home from there. We saddled up, gassed up, and hit the road. Four of us rode out together, with me bringing up the rear.
We went up Highway 33 for about 20 miles, then split off on Lockwood Valley Road. I don’t remember a whole lot about the ride. I remember that it was fun, that we were hauling ass and had the road to ourselves. I remember that I kept monkeying around with my GPS, trying to plug in our destination so I could figure out how much further there was to go. I know I finished doing that because I remember thinking we were getting pretty close.
Then everything goes south.
The guys tell me the marks on the road show that I locked up both wheels and laid the bike over on its left. My bike was in 3rd gear, it was an easy entry to an easy turn, plenty of visibility, no reason to have gone down. I’ve seen the pictures and videos from the scene, I’ve read the data from my GPS, and they’re right. There was absolutely no reason for me to have braked like that and to go down.
The GPS shows that we had come out of a turn into a straight-away. I accelerated up to 48 mph, then began slowing as I approached the next turn. GPS shows me slowing to 30 (which ties in with the bike in 3rd gear — downshifting), then the track ends where I went down. I suspect that I had just initiated the left turn when I locked up both brakes for some reason, and the angle of the bike made both wheels sort of “squirt” out from under me, low-siding the bike and slamming me shoulder-first into the ground. The question is: why the hell did I lock it up?
The only explanation that makes any sense is that something jumped out in front of me. It was dusk, so it’s very possible that a deer jumped me, or maybe a rabbit, or who knows what. Me? I blame chupacabra.
I don’t remember the crash at all. My first memory is of being face-down in the road with one of my brothers kneeling next to me with his hand on my back, asking, “Are you okay, brother?” and me answering, “Noooooooo……” I remember that, and pain.
My memories there at the crash scene are really jumbled. Apparently I was very animated, asking the guys to take pictures and video, flipping people off, complaining that it was taking too long for the ambulance to get there, and generally being a pain in the ass. You know, being myself.
Here’s a shot of the crash scene. That’s me face-down (notice the unnatural angle of the left ankle. brrrrr!), that’s my bike with the American flag just beyond me on the side of the road.
Apparently all that happened to the bike was the crash bar was bent back about half an inch and was ground down on the bottom. No other damage to the bike at all. So I took all the damage instead. That’s fucked up.
When I went down I dislocated my left ankle, broke my left shoulderblade, six ribs on the left, blew up my spleen so they had to remove it later, and punctured my left lung. It looks like I stuck where I landed — no slide, no roll, no bounce. I just hit, and my body absorbed every little bit of the impact. I really need to learn how to bounce.
The crash scene was so remote that they flew me out by helicopter, which was pretty cool. I remember being on the ground and when I heard the helicopter coming, saying, “But I can’t pay for that!” and one of the firemen reassured me that Ventura County doesn’t charge for Life Flights. I am now officially a fan of Ventura County.
One of my brothers got the video of the helo taking me out of there. You can’t see it in the video, but I’m in the helicopter holding my right fist up in the air as we take off. The flight nurse kept trying to push my hand back down, but I kept throwing that fist up there for my brothers.
About this video… It illustrates one of the things I love about my club: No matter how bad things are, we can still find something to laugh about. In this case, I’m all busted up and going to the hospital, but everyone still cracks up at the pilot’s question over the radio at the end. And to explain the question… One of my club brothers — the one shooting the video — is an actor and was in one of the Terminator movies. He gets recognized quite a bit for it, and that’s what the pilot is asking about.
I loaded the GPS track into Google Maps. Here’s the last 20 or so miles of the route, with the pin showing where I went down. Check it out:
Aaaaaanyway… This entry is getting pretty long, so I’ll cut it off here and get into the hospital and medical stuff in the next one.