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.