GET BACK ON THE HORSE
July 2016, riding along, minding my own business. Just me and my Yamaha Virago 1100. Then, from a driveway on my right lunged a black sedan. I had just enough time for it to register in my mind that this guy was gonna hit me. And he did. I remember thinking how much it hurt as I was rolling to a stop in the middle of the highway. I thought, my leg really hurts, and I tried to lift it to look at it, but my foot stayed on the ground while my thigh raised up obediently. Flash forward several months … I’m out of the hospitals, my right leg is rbka [right below knee amputated]. My left arm has been saved and pretty much repaired. The fractures are healing, most of the contusions have faded away, and I’m starting to crutch myself around while a robot leg is being prepared for me.
I wind up out in the garage, where a motorcycle is waiting. The Virago is history, but the Shadow is beckoning. My heart is starting to pound. I get sweaty and can’t imagine ever mounting a motorcycle again. The thought fills me with, well … terror. I leave the garage and go back to my room, where I have been recovering.
Flash forward to May 2017. I’ve decided I need to get back on a bike. I wheel the Shadow out of the garage and start it up. It starts right away, as if it’s been waiting for just this moment, keeping itself charged up and lubed, and champing at the bit, so to speak. I throw my robot leg over the saddle, and my heart stops for a second. I sit there, looking down the drive. I can’t do it. A week later, I try again. I am scared to death. Now I was in the military for 26 years. I’m 59 years old. I’m not really afraid of anything, but I’m afraid to engage the clutch and ride out of the drive and onto the road I have ridden many thousands of miles on two wheels.
Suddenly it’s June 2017. “Enough”, I tell myself, “just do it. You’re as physically healed as you’re gonna get. Now get your mind right.” So I suited up and I went out to the garage and started up the Shadow, which had been waiting patiently for me to get myself together. Well, I sparked that puppy up and threw that robot leg over the saddle, then sat there for a minute. Then I engaged the clutch and rolled slowly out of the garage and into the drive. When I got to the street, I almost passed out. I was hyperventilating. My heart was beating fast and hard and my head was pounding. But I said a little prayer, my left hand slowly released the clutch, my right hand eased the throttle up, and the next thing I knew I was on the blacktop. I turned out onto the highway and went through the gears. Heart still pounding but now from exhilaration. Well, I rode around for a while, but that wreck and the injuries I sustained took a lot out of me. I just am not the man I used to be, and by the time I got home I was exhausted.
Now, it’s 2022. The Shadow has been replaced with a Yamaha V Star 1100. I can’t ride hundreds of miles in a day anymore, but I can still ride and that’s how I thrive.