Concussion, Depravity and Redemption in One Motorcycle Crash

It’s not supposed to look like that. 

Thursday night I was riding my motorcycle home from work. I took a more well-lit route, as opposed to the curvy and fun road as I figured that would be safer. I was traveling on a city street, driving south, when a car traveling northbound abruptly turned left in front of me.

There was no way I could have reacted to have any effect on the inevitable impact. Physics, man. My motorcycle crashed into the side of the car and I have a brief snapshot of flying over the car, and that’s about all I remember for a few minutes. A witness tells me that the driver waited for me to get up before leaving the scene.

I vaguely recall talking with a handful of strangers. I don’t remember taking off my helmet, or standing up, or coming to. I don’t know for how long I spent either on back or on my belly in the middle of the street next to the shattered headlight and the busted steel bits of the triple clamp. I recall the feeling of grit in my mouth and realized the next morning that coarse-grain sand I spit out was part of my tooth. I remember the sensation that everything I saw was out of focus, like looking through the wrong prescription of a stranger’s sunglasses.

A few people asked me for money while I wobbled around confused and unsure about what had just happened and whether I was ok. “There’s an ATM right around the corner, come on, I’ll show you,” one of them persuaded.

At some point the police arrived and we spoke, of which I remember snapshots. The police got a call about a shooting, which they had to tend to immediately, and a report made its way into my pocket. I understand and agree completely with their sudden exit.

(from what I’m told) While I was talking with the police, a fellow motorcycle rider, who I did not know nor remember, stopped and pushed my bike out of the road. He then called a friend we have in common and said, “Do you know anyone with a blue Yamaha DT175? They just got into an accident on Humboldt and Capitol and you might want to check on them.”

My friend Andy then called his shopmate Chadwick who immediately drove his van over. He stepped out of his newly acquired #VanLife van, without his glasses on and I said something like, “Are you Chadwick? What are you doing here?” I think he answered, “Andy told me to come check on you.” In some amount of time both me and the bike left in Chadwick’s van. Chad’s wife Becky picked me up from the shop, because in my babbling I announced, “I’d really like to take a bath right now,” and she brought me to their house and made that happen.

The whole night still feels surreal, probably because I don’t remember all of it. It feels like a movie I watched while half asleep and dozing in and out of attention.

I’d probably be a little more bummed out that the dual sport I bought to ride dirt bikes with my kid is totaled, except I keep returning to a sense of amazement that both strangers and friends dropped what they were doing to see if there was a possibility I *might* need help. Which I certainly did. I can’t imagine what walking home from that would have been like, if I would have made it, and how the rest of the night would have progressed.

As I sit here doing nothing in a dark room under doctor’s orders (I’m not supposed to be reading or typing this on a screen either), despite the soreness of swelling and road rash and slow, deliberate movements when I get up, I actually feel pretty good.

For years, I’ve stopped by fellow cyclists and motorcycle riders on the side of the road or trail and asked if they were ok or if they needed anything. But it never occurred to me that other people do the same. The fact that other conscientious riders are out there and hop into action when it seems like they could have a positive effect on a situation makes me very glad. After a rather dismaying experience, it redeems how I feel about living in this world.


The Yamaha DT175 is a rider

My friend Andy at Rustoration Cycles spent some time with me making this bike run and ride pretty nice. It still needs a chain, some side covers so I don’t rip out the wiring while kicking it, and a few other things. 35 miles an hour can feel surprisingly fast – and fun – when a bike that makes you pay attention and work for every little bit. Makes the morning commute feel like a little more of an adventure. Still not sure what to name it. Any suggestions? How about Chainsaw Symphony? Taking a brief ride around the city a song kept playing through my head:


The streets

are alive

with the sound

of two stroke.

The Yamaha DT175 Two Stroke Dual Sport Runs!

I picked up this Yamaha DT175 two stroke dual sport from craigslist in Madison for cheap earlier this year. Gave me an easy excuse to have lunch with a good friend I don’t see enough. So far I’ve changed the battery, swapped the carb with a Mikuni a friend had on hand, changed the oil, and replaced the rear wheel (broken spokes), new spark plug and wire, and probably a few other little things I’m forgetting. Oh! The tank is blue now, it had a red one before. I’m in my blue period, so I got suddenly motivated to make it run. I may have to find an extra wheel spacer, still have to replace the shifter shaft seal, and tune the carb. But as of right now it’s at least a runner. Hurrah! That makes everything seem so much easier. Will be a fun bang around on/off road/backup motorcycle soon enough.