Monday, December 05, 2011

My Goldwing Vs. Pronghorn Antelope Story.. with pictures

I was catching up with the updates on some of the blogs I follow, and came across a picture of a trike with a huge camper shell mounted behind the driver, and 2 rear axles. I saw it on Trobairitz' blog. I have a picture of the very same trike. I took the picture sometime back around '99-'02. I looked through my photo albums, but couldn't find it. I did find this picture from my 1999 trip. What caught my eye in this picture is how young I look. I've aged since then.

From left to right.. Jesse, Garth, John, and me. Lyle is taking the picture.

That was back in my carefree, do-rag wearin', nothing-can-happen-to-me, pre crash, days. That all changed in 2006, when my Goldwing was struck by a Pronghorn Antelope. Yes, it hit the Goldwing, and hit it hard enough to bend the left front brake rotor and toss me to the highway. It happened on the second day of our annual trip to the Sturgis rally in SD. We were only 30 miles from Sturgis.....
We were riding staggered, about 5 or 6 of us, with traffic behind us, and 1 more bike behind me. I saw the lead guy in front pointing off to the right. I looked right and saw a large antelope on a rise, quite a ways off the road. What the guy in front didn't see, was another antelope run out into the road from the left ditch, almost hit him, do a U-turn, and head back into the ditch. Everyone else saw it. We just started to let off the throttle and reach for the brakes. That's when a 3rd antelope decided that if others could run onto the road, so could he. This one wasn't successful. He plowed into the left side of my front wheel. I tipped over onto the left side and rolled down the highway. I remember how time slowed WAY down as it happened, like slow-motion. I know it was over in seconds, but I distinctly remember having 5 thoughts while it happened.

1. "oh crap, this isn't going to be good"
2. "man is that thing ugly"
3. "roll, don't slide"
4. "damn, am I ever going to stop rolling"
5. "you've got to get out of the road, there's traffic coming"

It takes longer to say them than the whole crash took.

I remember making a mental note of how I felt as I was getting up. I was wondering if I was going to feel pain and fall down. I walked out of the road, sat the shoulder, and lay down. Everyone in our group was either a cop or fireman, or a retired cop or fireman. Someone called 911 and before I knew it, a couple of Mead County Deputies was there. Once they figured out that we were ALL cops or EMS, their personalities relaxed a bit.

What follows are some pictures of me, post crash..................

This was my un-helmeted head that bounced off of SD hwy 34 at the Hereford junction. The photo was taken after the E.R. visit, and between bandage changes.

My left leg that was "protected" by blue jeans. The jeans offered about a tenth of a seconds worth protection in the crash. I'm lucky that I rolled and didn't slide.

My left wrist, 3 days later...pinky side..

And thumb side...

My left knee...

This was my head, 3 days later....

I didn't get any pictures of my right big toe nail. Somehow, when I dumped the Goldwing, my right big toe hit the pavement so hard that the nail turned black by the time the ambulance got to the hospital in Sturgis. In the E.R., the Dr. used some type of electric probe to burn a hole through my toe nail. The relief was instant! I had a male nurse in the E.R., he was an Iron Butt rider and owned a Kawasaki Concours, he was pretty cool. I was treated and released in about 3 hours. Back at camp, the guy that was behind me at the time of the crash, told me that I bounced real good, and that he had locked up his rear wheel and skidded past my head. Missing me by inches. He skidded his bike all the way across the on coming lane and off the left side of the road. He skidded into the back of my trailer.
I spent the next day at the campground waiting for my girlfriend to come from WI to pick me up.

I went back to the crash scene on my trip out to pick up my Goldwing from the Honda dealer. I found the skid mark and the dead antelope. I picked up a few of the clean bones as a souvenir.

5 years later, and the road rash on my left knee, left wrist, and head is still visible. It's OK, I wasn't pretty before.
The really stupid thing is, we had just left a gas stop about 10 miles back, in Union Center. It was at that gas stop that I decided to take off my gear, after all, we were only 30 miles from the campground. So, I put my full face helmet and mesh over-pants in the trailer, and slipped my gloves off and had them under my thighs. What could go wrong?
I saved the Firstgear Meshtex jacket I was wearing at the time of the crash and kept it in my closet for a long time. It sacrificed itself in the crash, but where the jacket covered me, I had no bumps, bruises or road rash.

I am very lucky that I survived. If I had hit face first, or smacked my head a little harder, I could be in a totally different world now. Or dead!

I have since become a solid believer in ATGATT, but I still support your right to choose whether or not you wear a helmet. I also believe that a person riding without proper gear is a fool.


  1. Shit good story, i have to say i was horrified to see that you wernt wearing a helmet. There was some relief when I relsied you had justtaken if off for a short time. I must admit to being amazed at how bikers in your country seem so 'liberal' about safty gear.

  2. Glad to see that you were ok.
    I don't understand the mentality of motorcyclists in America. Why would you not wear a helmet? It's compulsary here in Australia. Is your safety not important?

    Yes it can be hot and uncomfortable to wear full leathers, gloves, boots, back protector and helmet not to mention it cost me about $3500. But hell why bother paying for all that safety equipment if your not going to use it. I know if i came off and got seriuosly hurt and wasn't wearing all my gear i would regret it the rest of my life.

    Sometimes the shit does hit the fan and my moto is - That by having the best gear i can afford when i do crash then it will give me the best possible chance to live to ride another day.

  3. Raftnn-Chillertek,
    Thanks for the comments. One of the greatest things about the USA is the ability to choose things for your self. Of the 50 States, only 2 of them have NO helmet restrictions, 28 have age related helmet laws, and 20 have mandatory helmet laws regardless of age. I think one of the stupidest things a person could do is drive a motorcycle without gear, but at the same time, I think it's one of the freedoms we enjoy in this country.
    When I ride, I notice most of the cruiser riders are helmetless and DS and sport bike riders, almost always seem to be geared up, (sqids excluded). I live in an area that is popular for both sport bikes and cruisers. Every year it's the same headlines in the local paper, "motorcyclist looses control, crashes and dies". It seems to be cruisers the can't make the corners. These are the same riders that run w/o helmets. Their argument is always the same too, "it blocks my vision", or "I can't hear traffic w/a helmet on". But they are the same ones running loud pipes, and wearing ear plugs.... go figure.
    Anyway... I agree, it's not the smartest thing to do, but it is a personal freedom in this country, at least until the politicians take that one from us too.


  4. Great post and a good reminder to wear ATGATT.

    There was a time when I didn't have proper riding gear and when I think back on those times I cringe and I am thankful nothing happened.

    I am glad you recovered from the crash and still enjoy riding.

    Thanks for the shout-out. It is cool that you saw the camping trike up close and personal.

  5. You are one lucky guy, glad you did okay beside the few bumps.
    I used to think we should be allowed to ride without helmets, not any more, now I ride ATGATT.

  6. I am not getting into that pointless discussion around the freedom of wearing protective gear or not, I am just glad that you got off easy and weren't permanently damaged. I have had my share of road rash from riding in jeans and tees and learned my lesson, so I am with you on wearing ATGATT.