Hi folks, thought I'd share my story for some therapy, advice, and general commiseration. I was in my first serious motorcycle accident two days ago on I-90W, in Albany NY where I live.
Normally I leave work late enough that the 5 mile highway drive home is nice and quiet, but left during rush-hour time on this day to meet a fellow motorcyclist buddy for his birthday. I got into an accident right before a notoriously chaotic off-ramp, where essentially an I-90 on ramp is directly before a major, multi-exit offramp, and then there are several lane options to go in. So you'll have cars in the right-hand lane quickly moving multiple lanes over to the left for an exit. It's a bad scene at rush hour times.
So I was approaching this offramp at normal highway speeds, several hundred feet from a tight group of cars, when they braked hard. I braked hard as well - the roads were wet but the bike felt in control and okay. But an SUV smacked me hard from behind. I can still really feel the force of it if I try to - which I'm not - it was the most unnatural and extreme discomfort I've ever felt. I think I was immediately separated from the bike, and remember sliding with my feet forward and looking back at all the cars coming to a halt. Once I stopped moving, I couldn't breathe, but I was able to slowly stand up and could tell nothing was broken. Hadn't lost consciousness or hit my head. Wasn't bleeding from anywhere as far as I could tell.
The middle-aged lady who hit me was already crying hysterically, and I was trying to calm her down, pretty absurd scenario right there. I think it was my brain's tactic to keep my mind off of what had just happened. Her SUV looked worse than my bike - my engine had died but the lights were still on and it looked more or less like how a motorcycle should. A Goldwing-riding acquaintance from work saw me and stopped - helped me get the bike out of the lane and convinced me I needed to go to the hospital. I let the state trooper and fire department do their jobs while I got loaded into the ambulance. More or less till felt fine, tried to do my best to answer all the questions to prove to everyone that I was okay.
I'd already been questioned what felt like a million times about where the pain was, and in the ambulance I noticed my knee was starting to throb - it even felt wet, like there might be blood. I walked the ambulance crew through removing all the clips and velcro from my Sidi boots, and prepared myself for what they were going to see - I was already braced down so wouldn't see for myself. But they just laughed and told me with relief that it was just a slight burn. Really start to hit me around then how thankful I was to consistently take the time twice a day, everyday, to put that Klim suit on.
In the ER, the X-ray revealed I might have a fractured vertabrae. Went back and waited to get a CT scan. A guy came in with two cops and took the bed next to me. They'd found 25 grams of crack on him. wow! He smelled like pee. Add that to 80 degree stale air and not allowed to drink fluids = not fun.
After a CT scan, they informed me I'd be getting a back brace. More waiting and a greasy looking salesman arrived with a shiny black vest. He was then notified it had turned out there was no fracture, got really irate, and stormed out. I didn't like that; felt like he should be happy I was okay! Motorcycle buddies were there when I was out, and got home by midnight after six hours in there.
My bike is gone though. I went to the tow yard yesterday morning to inspect it. At first glance it looks like just a smashed mirror, turn signal, tail light... I tried getting the tools out from under the seat and realized they were trapped from a severely bent frame. The insurance company is supposed to inspect it today, but I know it will be totalled. So the honeymoon is over. I got the bike back in September - my first bike above 80cc's if you can believe it (I was previously a two-stroke tuning fanatic). I'd really wanted an 800gs but was just outside my price range, and had decided that life was short and it would be better to start with something lower on the food chain instead of sitting around and waiting for my bank account to rise.
The bike was everything I hoped it would be, 2006 BMW Dakar. The perfect line of economy and power, able to squeeze through the tight areas with a friend's smaller 250, enough to carry my girlfriend in the back on occasion. A pleasure to work on and augment its functionality. I had just started to get confident on the trails, and had added Denali LEDs, luggage, and a Garmin Montana in anticipation for a summer of exploration. Like anyone else here I've got my share of problems in life, and whenever I turned the key on this bike, it was a sanity machine.
I'm psyched to be alive -- have had friends seriously injured on motorcycles - even hit and runs - so I know I'm lucky - but I do feel sad. I've noticed for the past few months that the bike was really starting to feel like an extension of myself, and now I'm really feeling that void. I'm noticing that people in my life are having trouble understanding that. I rode it everyday this winter to commute, far up into the Adirondacks between Christmas and New Years (and right between two snow storms), and countless weekend adventures either solo or with friends. Amazing memories I won't forget, and I want a lot more of them. So I've got to make sure the insurance process ends well and I'm able to get back on the road.
I'm going to try and get a fair deal out of the insurance, and parlay that for a used F800GS. I'd love to hear anyone's responses, advice, or hot leads on bikes. I have some images on my Flickr
of the bike post-crash, and all the happy times I had before then. Not sure if its the wrong move to be posting these publicly with insurance claims still happening. Not even sure if writing this is a bad move. I didn't lie and I didn't tamper with the bike, so whatever.
My recommendations on a suitable celebratory meal after a crash and six hours in the ER, all on an empty stomach: Eggo waffles, leftover pulled pork, maple syrup.
Also, I gotta say, I ride with my Macbook Pro in a Pelican 1490 case, mounted with Rok straps on a Caribou cargo plate. One of the straps was shredded, but the case stayed secure the whole time, and I'm typing this on that laptop right now. This computer is my meal ticket and was a huge investment for someone in this phase of life and career, so I'm considering myself a lifelong Pelican customer. Klim too.