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To ride or not to be.

copyright Mark D. Keith 02/09/2004

One day was to change my views of leather. Prior I had not thought much of leather one way or the other, other than it was expensive. The acquisition of my own motorcycle was to soon change that. I should say my actions and following accident would change my opinion. Thankfully I had received fast medical attention. A month in the hospital soon changed my mind, and now I never ride without protective gear.

It was a nice day, has I hopped on my motorcycle after work. The 1982 Honda CM450C sparked to life at the touch of the start button. Having owned the bike for about three weeks, I was very confidant in my riding ability. I had learned to ride on a 50cc motor scooter that had all the controls of a motorcycle but no power in which to into trouble with. One day while getting gas for the motor scooter, a guy asked me about it. Told him a friend had loaned me it, as I had no vehicle of my own. He then offered to sell me his bike, since he not been riding it once he gotten his Trans Am. I was taken aback by the power of the 450cc two cylinder engine compared to 50cc engine of the scooter. I treated the 450 very gingerly the first couple of weeks. Well, the excitement of riding made me very cocky by the third week.

My safety gear at the time was minimal, a full face helmet or 'hat' as many enthusiast call it, and pair of leather gloves. Feeling ecstatic, I hit the exit ramp from Russell Parkway onto hwy 247 at 50 mph. Leaning deep into the turn and goosing the gas I was screaming around the corner at 60 mph. The foot pegs were sparking against the road, and my knee was only a fraction of an inch from the road. Then I saw it! A retread that had come off a tire was in the path of my front tire. Soon as my front tire hit it, the bike lost all traction. I watched my life flash before my eyes as I slid face first along the pavement.

Once I stopped, was amazed to be alive, stood up, yanked my helmet off, and walked back to the motorcycle. A man in car asked if I was okay; I replied that I was. I glanced at my knee, saw the white of my kneecap and said maybe not as I dropped down against the motorcycle. At that time an off work EMT rushed to me even as the other guy was calling 911. In minutes I was surrounded by not only Warner Robins medical personal, but also the Air Force Bases' medical personal. Seems funny looking back, but at the time my knee wasn't in as much pain as the back of my ankles. Because I was so tall I didn't full fit on the stretcher, the back of my ankles rested on the rail caused more pain.

I spent a month in the hospital over Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. I was lucky, was close to needed a muscle graft on my knee, but just needed a skin graft. Forget how long I was attached to the push button activated morphine machine, but it wasn't long. It had a battery so I'd unplug it, and use it like a crutch to get around the room. I hated lying in bed with nothing to do. Well first time nurse discovered what I was doing she fussed and lectured me. So next day they toke away my morphine machine and gave me a pair of crutches. Now I could roam the hospital halls, within reason.

It was no fair that the bike survived the accident better than me. All it had was a big dent in the gas tank, where my knee hit it, and broken headlight assembly. I was missing part of my knee cap, and had skin grafted into it from my upper leg. Soon after getting home from the hospital I started buying more leather riding gear. I bought a pair of leather chaps, a leather jacket, pair of leather gloves, and a new full face helmet. Now when I ride I wear them religiously before getting on a motorcycle.

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