It’s 2:30pm on March 24th, 2011 and I just got off the phone with a fellow named David, my father’s name is David. He was telling me about this great event he rode in over the weekend, it was the season opener of the North Carolina Hare Scrambles Association, (NCHSA) series held in Union, South Carolina. It was a perfect day for the event, the sun was shining with temperatures in the mid 70’s. The event had a great turnout, with 350 riders in all. For his class there were 153 riders on the line. He said his race had gone mostly uneventful and he was on his last lap a few minutes after going through a check point when he was passed by a couple of faster riders. At this point in the race he was done, just cruising to get to the finish. He said he felt the two guys were still racing. A few seconds after the two passed him the second rider started swapping through the section of whoops they were riding through. Suddenly, as if for no reason, the bike of one of the riders shot off the trail at a 45 degree angle and ran head on into a tree leaving the rider slumped on the ground twitching as he lay unconscious for five minutes.
To Dave’s best estimate the rider was going about 30 mph, the bike must have hit a root which caused it to change direction. Sounds about right, 30 mph in 3rd gear through a whoop section. What makes this scenario most difficult for me to comprehend is I was the rider of the bike that crashed into that tree before Dave’s eyes. Some of you may be thinking crashing at 30 mph is nothing… And you are right. I have crashed going much faster and picked up the bike and continued on. But in all of these crashes, I have never hit an immovable object. We don’t have any video of the actual crash, thankfully. I am still trying to piece the entire thing together. Evidently I was knocked out and lay unconscious for a brief period – roughly 5 minutes. A period long enough to erase my entire recollection of anything that happened until I was sitting on the side of the trail asking Dave his name for the tenth time. I don’t remember a single detail about the crash.
I was very lucky that day, God must have been looking after me. I chose to wear a chest protector in addition to my normal protective gear. I typically don’t wear a chest protector, I can tell you I will now. I was also wearing a Bell Moto8 helmet and I am certain it saved my life. My face was cut up pretty bad, check the photo. My other injuries were two cracked ribs, cracked collar bone, and a fractured sternum, plus miscellaneous bruises, a lot of soreness and a concussion.
I have been riding bikes and crashing them for over 25 years. This was by far my worst. I am writing this so my experience will inspire people to spend money on protective gear and wear it. Buy the best helmet you can and replace it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Getting your bell rung sucks, getting knocked out really sucks. But smacking your head in a helmet that is ill equipped to properly protect it can ruin more than just one day of riding.
To David I say Thank You for stopping in the middle of a race to help me and for taking the time to track me down and help me fill in some blanks.
We all know motorcycling is inherently dangerous and people do get hurt on them every single day. It’s up to each person who throws a leg over the saddle to protect him/herself for the time when they need it. If you see someone you know/love getting on a bike without proper protection, get them to think twice about what they are doing. You just might save their life.
Editor in Chief