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choco

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choco last won the day on August 13

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About choco

  • Rank
    World Superbike Racer
  • Birthday 08/23/1955

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  • Location
    Duvall, WA
  • In My Garage:
    VFR 800 2004 No Longer
    Saw Stop Professional Grade Table saw

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  1. choco

    The Crash

    I can't imagine that happening to me with a passenger on back. You and Steve are quite a team hope you are always safe. I was impressed by how well you guys and Jeff and Coraline ride on your ADV bikes. This is one reason I'm think, IF EVER I get another bike I might get an ADV bike, perhaps an Africa Twin. No hurry, I promised my wife we will do some extensive travelling first and most often.
  2. choco

    The Crash

    Thanks for the kind words, Tony. I'm healing up pretty well, anxious to get back to work. Enjoying a lot of quality time with Pauline at home.
  3. choco

    The Crash

    Part 4 recovery and reflection We’re more than a month out from the crash as I write this conclusion today. The farther my temporal distance from the crash the more I wish to stop looking back and focus ahead, thus is the reason for the lengthy gaps between these episodes. Writing about the crash, the lead up, the details of the crash and the aftermath has been a catharsis and has helped me gain a positive perspective on the saga. One thing to note is I gained a newfound appreciation of our level of civilization. I am often a critic of what many are recognizing as a collapsing civilization, the recent mass shootings are but one example. But civilization was there for me when I needed it most, from my friends, to the first responders, the ambulance’s quick arrival, the officers shutting down the road, the helicopter crew, the hospital staff, the orthopedic surgeons, and my family coming to retrieve me. I was not alone at any time. We all complain from time to time and with various levels of intensity how society is failing, but sometimes when an unexpected emergency arises it’s nice to know society and the structures of civilization are in place to mitigate physical damages and provide comfort and reassurance for mental and emotional anguish. I regret that my brief lack of concentration affected so many people. The ride that Derek and Craig Sample had planned so many months before was only partially experienced because of my crash. I hated having to make the call to Pauline, but thought it best she hear from me. She could hear my voice and knew I was more or less ok when I told her I was calling from the hospital. Wanting to see her again was one of the things that gave me inspiration to fend off the Grim Reaper in that creek bed. I also have two wonderful grown children with wonderful spouses and wonderful grandchildren that I was determined to come home to. It was recognizing that I would indeed survive the traumatic, violent crash and would be allowed to continue enjoying my life and family. That is what allowed me to be upbeat and positive, something several people commented on. I never became depressed emotionally. I do regret the whole affair, regret losing my motorcycle, regret the bother I caused everybody and the expense that accumulates with such an accident even though I have good insurance through my work. I regret curtailing the group’s planned rides and generally bumming everybody out. If my crash serves as a reminder to other riders to reign it in, just a little, to intersperse lighter paced sight-seeing with high concentration canyon carving, then I’ll take solace in that. I’m not sure I could have landed in a better place than Redding Mercy Hospital. Everybody spoke very highly about Dr. Osborne. I particularly enjoyed being cared for in the ICU by Adrianna and Jason. I’ll never forget Adrianna coming into my room and walking up to the big window and peering out across the rolling hills—a free spirt who preferred to roam in nature but chose the confines of a building in order to help people. Jason attended to me at night, we hit it off very well, even better when he learned I was a land surveyor. He loved to explore the outdoors and we talked of navigation and I told him of the two types of compasses we use, bearing compass and azimuth compass and explained the similarities and differences. He was very appreciative and wanted my recommendation for a brand, I told him a Silva Ranger, probably in azimuth as most recreation maps are azimuth. He ordered one while I was there and he was eager to learn about declination and how to orient a map and compass and run a fairly accurate heading toward a destination. While all this was going on Pauline and step daughter Sarah were driving down from Duvall, about 20 miles north east of Seattle. I wasn’t expecting Sarah to come down, but should have known, she’s always there for everybody in our extended family. When I originally called Pauline, and after she calmed down a bit, I told her my plan. Get the pickup, put our air mattress in the back, load it up with blankets and pillows, and please come get me. Instead, Sarah brought Pauline down in her late model Jeep Cherokee and fetched me home. Sarah spent most of day after she arrived in Redding taking care of my expired motorcycle. We had to pay $1,000 to a towing company to winch out of the creek and put it in impound. They wanted even more but Sarah talked them down. I never thought I’d have to pay to get rid of my ole’ girl, but that’s the way it is sometimes, a brief lapse of concentration, a simple mistake can have compounding consequences. With two substantial titanium screws going through my sacroiliac, I felt ready to go home. My clavicle and all the other healing issues could be done at home. We left the next day, anxious to get going, paperwork and whatnot delayed our departure until around 4:30 PM. Loaded in a very comfortable passenger seat, pain killers doing their job, we almost immediately found I-5 and headed north. Leaving so late and heading north in northern California turned out to be beneficial as traffic was light all the way home. We had one gas/pee stop and 10 hours later I was hobbling from the car up the walk to my front door. Pauline and Sarah are my angels of mercy. My clavicle is now set with a titanium plate, per Dr. Osborne’s stern directives, it was imperative that I find a good Orthopedic trauma surgeon in my area (Seattle) to continue monitoring my pelvic region and operate on my broken clavicle. Sarah and Pauline found a good one, Dr. Marshal. I’m now two weeks out from the clavicle operation and set for another visit to the doctor on Thursday to see how I’m mending. I feel good, most all the bruises have faded, the deep bone bruises are diminishing, and the hematoma on my left thigh is slowly vanishing. My pelvis has to heal right and proper before I can put direct weight on my right leg and the trick now is to be patient and not push it too fast. In retrospect, as I have had a lot of time to review and analyze my ordeal, my primary thought is feeling grateful for not being seriously hurt: I could have broken my back, shattered a femur, broken my neck or died. I was immediately aware I’d been at once unlucky to have crashed and lucky that my injuries were not as bad as they could’ve been. Although I was in shock at the creek, I was cognizant my friends were there and concerned greatly about my condition. I’m sorry I wasn’t fully aware of who all braved the steep bank to come to my aid but I appreciate the risks you all took. I am grateful for the help holding and stabilizing the stretcher. I apologize to my riding friends for severely altering well laid plans. I was moved when everybody came to the hospital to check on me. I saw the video and must say stuff like that makes you feel you’re not going through your ordeal alone. The old saying is there are two kinds of motorcycle riders, those who’ve gone down and those who are going to go down. For years and tens of thousands of trouble free miles I was certain I would not be going down. After my slow speed crash at about 75,000 miles or so I realized I could go down and when it happens it’s sudden and unexpected. After I started riding again after my broken ankle was mended I realized I was never going to be the same indestructible rider as before and whenever I spotted gravel on a paved road, my heart raced as I knew what could happen. With this crash I told some people, including my wife, that I was done with motorcycling. I simply don’t want any more titanium in my body. Not that I believe crashing is inevitable, but I know now it’s possible. I don’t like being laid up and feel crappy I’m letting my workmates and bosses down. They need me as this is our busiest time of the year and I’m the surveyor with the most experience they send to all the most challenging jobs. While mending here in Duvall, the Seattle area has been particularly hard hit with motorcycle fatalities, six deaths in one 24 hour period. One accident stood out as extra cruel when one motorcycle rider crossed the center line and crashed into another motorcycle going the opposite way and both died. This was along the west side of the Hood Canal road, one of my favorites whenever I head south and west of I-5. Just before our California trip seven motorcyclist were killed in New Hampshire when a drunk driver pulling a trailer crossed the center line. Last winter I was cruising at the speed limit in Rainier Park when I felt a breeze on my left ankle, I looked down to see if my pants were covering my boot, they were, when I looked back up an elk was crossing the road right in front of me. I hit the front brake so hard I’m lucky my tire didn’t wash out, I don’t have ABS. Why I was lured to look down the same time the elk chose to cross the road is one of those things that make you wonder. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I do believe there is a spiritual reality behind this materialistic existence. My philosophy is fairly simple. I believe there is a universal harmony and the trick is to get your personal harmony in tune with the universal harmony. The more these come into synchronicity the more harmonious one’s personal experience is and this blissfulness radiates to those around you. Was there a cosmic reason for my crash? Many people just believe people run into bad luck from time to time. I’m not going to argue one way or the other. All I can wonder is did my crash serve as a notice to my friends who witnessed it directly and will seeing what can happen with just a moment’s lapse of concentration help them refocus and give them greater appreciation of the inherent dangers of motorcycling? I’m not the one to answer those questions. I’m also left to ponder what really happened with that dream/near death experience at the creek. Was I meant to peer into the other side and report back, assuring everyone who reads my account that there is indeed more to follow? Again, I don’t know for sure and wouldn’t argue this perspective one way or the other. I’m not sure what I experienced and wouldn’t waste much time trying to make any steadfast conclusions and try to convince anyone of anything. I only know what I experienced. Which leaves one question, would I ever get another motorcycle and ride again? Perhaps, but not anytime soon.
  4. choco

    The Crash

    For sure on the ATGATT. All the responders and hospital crew seemed very pleased with the fact I was wearing top notch gear. Arai, helmet, Held Gloves, Sidi boots, Joe Rocket jacket, Bilt pants. Maybe a Michelin Man airbag suit is next.
  5. choco

    The Crash

    He's my role model, or should that be roll model?
  6. Exactly. This is the problem with today's high tech motors, the mechanics are low wage.
  7. choco

    The Crash

    The Crash Part 3 With over 300 miles of tight mountain roads ahead of us, the procession left our hotel in Redding a little earlier than the day before. I had misgivings about changing my mind that morning leaving Jake to ride alone to Lassen Volcano; I also was happy to ride once again with my VFRD friends. We fell in line and made our way out of Redding onto the roads northwest of Redding, eventually taking highway 3 past Trinity. We all stopped at a junction of Highway 3 and Forest Service Road 42N17, Trinity River ran more or less north to south, just east of the junction, while the Tangle Blue Creek was to our west, more or less paralleling the serpentine road we were riding on. The leaders pulled us all over at the wide expansive junction as Derek was going to ride ahead to a spot he had planned to set his drone aloft and video us as we rode by. He took off and later called his wife Tammy to say he was ready, we filed back onto the road and I found myself somewhere near the front of the pack but not at the front. The turns became tighter and tighter, some were increasing radius, and even seemed to be off camber. Tricky riding and I noticed with alarm a rider or two blowing the corners, drifting well across the center line and reigning it back just in time to set up for the next corner. Had a car or logging truck come around the steep curve ahead it wouldn’t have been good. I’m not sure how far we travelled on our way to the hovering drone, but on one short piece of tangent with a sharp left hander, I was closing in on Craig Sample and his Tuono, he was filming our ride with fore and aft GoPros, these cameras are not unusual on such tours so nothing unremarkable about that. As I’ve had more than enough spare time to replay that day and to try to determine why I blew that particular corner after carving around 10,000 other corners without incident, I’ve come to this: When you ride at the front of a group, or solo, you read the road ahead of you, there’s a lot to process and some riders use the “vanishing point” method to set up their line around a curve. I guess I do that myself. You have to adjust to the radius and the best, safest way to do that is by following the old axiom pertaining to corners, “slow in fast out.” You also have to read the surface for any traction problems, tar snakes, gravel, water, tree branches, animals, etc. A public road is not a closed track so it’s imperative to leave some speed on the table, knowing you cannot possibly calculate for any contingency ahead. However, when you’re following a group, you can get a clue as to the sharpness of a curve by seeing the bikes ahead of you and seeing their torso, or helmets going through their arc and this helps you see a bit farther around the curve than just by reading the road surface at it appears in front of you. In this case I might have been following Craig’s Tuono not realizing he was pulling to the side to wave us ahead in order to get different video. I might have allowed myself to follow him to the edge and when he waved me by I finally realized what was going on. I vividly remember glancing at his waving hand as I past him and when I looked up I was very near the edge of the road as its increasing radius was arcing tighter than I was. This is not to suggest in any way that Craig’s actions caused me to crash, the responsibility for my crash is solely mine and mine alone. I only mention these details because I had to figure out for myself why this corner caught me out when I’ve never had any problems before. I got distracted on an unforgiving corner, a corner, like many on that road which requires 100 percent concentration. That one tiny lapse of concentration resulted in a violent explosion of pain and confusion. When I turned back to the road I was already on the edge of the pavement, leaning over, Jim, who filmed me also, said my front tire hit a pot hole or something and started bouncing or shaking very hard and fast. I couldn’t believe I was losing control and then I slammed down hard, violently, dirty brown gravel and rocks exploded all around me. My first thought was for my ole’ girl, it was going to be ruined, I hit hard on my left side and slid along the gravel, expecting in that split second to grind to a stop only I didn’t stop, I just kept on going and going, and going. I slid off the edge of the road over a boulder lined creek bank and tumbled down the coffee-table sized, sharp edge boulders, crashing, bouncing, crashing, cartwheeling, crashing, tumbling, wondering when this nightmare was going to end. My bike was being tortured more or less the same way, I could hear it being destroyed by the unforgiving, unyielding granite blocks. I think it was loyal to the end, I don’t recall it crushing me, I like to think it did its best to stay clear of me. We both landed face down in the boulders. Me at the toe of the 30-foot high rock cliff, my bike another 15 or so feet out in the boulder-strewn creek. The way I kept falling, crashing and bouncing only to repeat over and over was beyond frightening and confusing, it made me think of death. I finally came to a stop, head down, only inches from the water, stuck between boulders, legs and feet up in the air. Before even trying to move I had one thought to process, one question to ask. Why am I still alive? It didn’t seem possible. I was alive and so wrestled myself upright and stood on my feet leaning back against the boulder, my head was still spinning. I glanced over at my bike, utterly destroyed, the Remus pipes that jutted out back seemed to have dodged the carnage somehow. I could hear the creek now. I knew I had done it good. Whatever I did wrong on that corner I don’t think the punishment fit the crime, yet here I was, battered, busted and alone, for now. My friends were coming. I tried to move my legs, they moved, I wiggled my back, it wiggled, I turned my head from side to side, so far so good. I moved my arms-check. I reevaluated my condition and was relieved to discover I was not dead, not even a vegetable. My broken ankle from before was fine, my back was fine, my neck was fine, hell, I might come out of this after all. I looked at my bike again and grimaced for the loss of an old friend. Jim Landon was the first person to reach me. This was no small feat as he put himself at considerable risk to get to me, he saw me upside down and feared I may be drowning. By the time he reach me I was upright and had already done my self-diagnostic. I was hurt bad and hadn’t realized the extent of my injuries. Jim started talking to me and his exact words I can’t recall but he helped me focus and tried to reassure me. This is about the time the really weird stuff started to happen. As I looked at Jim blackness started to envelope my view. It started from the margins and I tried to fight back the blackness by concentrating on Jim’s face and his voice. It was as if the Grim Reaper was trying to envelope me with his ink black cape that was rippling with static electricity, try as I might I couldn’t stop the blackness from obliterating everything, even the silhouette of Jim’s head and shoulders were gone. I have to admit, these few moments were frightening, I didn’t know what to expect but could not accept not seeing, thankfully the blackness did not drown out Jim’s voice. I concentrated on staying focused in the direction I last saw his silhouette fade away and honed in on his voice, it’s all I had to grab onto. It was enough as a few minutes passed by in total darkness and the blackness finally, slowly started to recede. Jim was still talking and he appeared once again right where he should have been. Fuck off Grim Reaper, not yet. Relieved about getting my sight back, something told me to get out of the creek bottom and I tried make my way along the toe of the boulder cliff where it meets the edge of the boulder strewn creek. Jim tried to convince me to stay put, by then Tammy and made her way down the slope and also tried to get me to stay still. I figured I was going to stiffen up if I didn’t keep moving and I knew I was going to need plenty of help getting back up to the top and wanted to help them help me as much as possible. The boulders were so large, the steepness so great everybody except me knew I was on a fool’s errand. Nevertheless, I managed to spot a strip of gravel that might allow an easier ascent to the top than the boulder steps and forced my way along the toe of the cliff toward it. Tammy did her best to convince me otherwise, Jim too. People up top were urging me to stay put, but I had that fight or flight adrenaline coursing through my veins and wanted to escape my predicament. Finally I could sense everyone’s frustration with my stubbornness and allowed myself a short respite, also I could feel my pelvis crunching with each step. I didn’t know the extent of my damages, but I knew then my pelvis was broken in several places. I also had a broken clavicle, two broken ribs and deep bone bruises, but only the pelvis was painful and debilitating. I stopped once again to Tammy’s relief and took a breather. Derek joined her in stabilizing me, and informed me the first responders were only minutes out. I was grateful and dismayed all at once, I didn’t want to screw up the ride for everybody, but that just exactly what I had done. As long as I stayed still I was in no pain, I had taken my helmet and gloves off at the boulders where I first crashed but left my pack and jacket on. I insisted I wanted to keep them on now, I felt comfortable and the pack gave me a cushion to lean back against. Where Jim had been my first angel responder, now Tammy and Derek had joined him to comfort me. Tammy held me, steadied me, talked to me and let me lean against her. It reminded me of the time in Germansen Landing, BC when our friend and neighbor Ray Reierson shattered his leg while horse logging. We happened to be in the area and were able to help out the best we could. We helped him roll to a sitting position and my wife Pauline sat behind him and made herself into a chair for him to lean back against. He did great until the medic stabilized his leg from one side and rolled him over a bit and we all saw his tibia and fibula jutting out from his skin, covered in dirt and pine needles. It was then when Ray needed oxygen to keep from falling deeper into shock. Soon a chopper descended and flew him off to Prince George. He said later he’ll never forget how comforting leaning against Pauline had been. I feel the same way about Tammy, I wasn’t going through this alone—my pain was being shared by my friends. I realized I was getting stiff and wouldn’t be attempting another ascent of VFR Mountain, knowing getting me out of there was going to be a challenge. About then the Grim Reaper decided to try again, everything faded to black, with that static electricity the only thing breaking up the ink black. Again I tried to focus on where I last saw Derek and Jim, and I could feel Tammy’s body against mine, her embrace helped me focus. Finally, the black dissipated. Then the craziest thing happened. I suddenly felt nauseous, with barely any time to warn Derek, who was attending to me, I think I tried to warn him I was going to throw up and I did. Except I barely remember throwing up because that’s when I crossed over to the other side, perhaps the other side of the Grim Reaper’s cape. I know this sounds strange, but I passed out and at the time, after I had woke up with puke on my arm, I thought I had just had a dream, but upon reflection this was no dream like any I had ever had. My dreams are always bizarre, don’t make sense, disjointed, annoying usually, stressful most often, panic inducing on occasion. But this was the most pleasant dream I had ever had. I was somewhere in a storybook village, maybe a cottage on the margins of a village and a natural landscape, the details are getting fuzzy as I’m more than a month out now from the crash, but it seemed like it could be my vision of an ideal existence, a small, community, very friendly people, not necessarily family, not necessarily not family, just nice people, who knows, but the one thing that remains clear is that I had this comforting feeling of belonging, of knowing this is how it’s supposed to be. It was also bright, glowing and radiating with good feelings. It was just a dream I thought and when I woke up with puke on my arms, I’m pretty sure I announced to Tammy and Derek and Jim and whomever else was nearby that I just had a dream, a most pleasant dream. Reality tore me from that paradise to the realization once again that I had just experienced a life-threatening crash on my motorcycle. The sound of the creek penetrated my consciousness and chased my dream/near death experience away once and for all. I was forced me to remember where I parked my bike. It lay crushed and motionless, dead in the rocky creek bed. The odometer would certainly not be tallying any more miles. I wouldn’t be needing that plastic nut after all. Curry had pointed out to me at the last stop that my taillight was out. Yet another minor problem I wouldn’t have to deal with. My friends stood close, inspecting me, I could feel my battered body wracked in shock and trauma and just wanted for a moment to duck back into that dream that maybe wasn’t a dream. I apologized to Derek in case I got any puke on him, we washed it off the right sleeve of my Joe Rocket perforated summer jacket. The material over the left shoulder armor was shredded, below that armor was a broken clavicle and two broken ribs, the very least of my pain and problems at the time. I was informed that the paramedics were close, that a helicopter was inbound and felt both relieved and guilty for having cause so many people so much trouble. Our group was not able to finish their ride, the drone had nothing to video. It was all about me, not the kind of attention anyone wants. The first paramedic appeared before me, he was an older guy, my age or even older and had done well to scamper down the steep bank. He was puffing and set right in to determine my condition. My eyes were instructed to follow his finger, check, I had to give my name and birth date, check, where was I, somewhere northwest of Redding, somewhere not too far from some place called Trinity, check. Although my helmet was off and my head and neck were okay, paramedics take no chances and the gentleman proceeded to secure my head in a cardboard medieval torture device, but I didn’t mind too much. Soon a stretcher was brought and by this time I was starting to succumb to my injuries and was retreating into myself, seeing and hearing the earnest activity around me through a haze. I felt myself being winched up, I remember the paramedic calling for some strong men from above to help guide the stretcher over the boulders. I felt my pelvis wrench apart every time the stretcher clattered over a boulder. It was slow going as my friends had to keep adjusting their own footing in order to give one dedicated heave, reposition themselves among the boulders and then another, over and over. I was reminded of how we sometimes used to have to get our snowmobiles unstuck after plunging down a too steep hillside. Several people would have to fight their way to the sled, work their feet down through three for four feet of snow on a 45 degree slope, give a heave, have somebody hold the brake or rope, everybody had to shuffle and re-punch new holes for their feet, give another coordinated heave only to gain another two or three feet of elevation. At one point one side of my stretcher fell away and I heard the paramedic shouting to hold on. I thought I might face plant on those obstinate boulders. I was leveled and eventually broke over the bank and was on flat ground. I remember a police man asking me how fast I was going, what happened and I told him not very fast 25 or so and that I remembered glancing over at the bike as Jamie waved me by. They were talking about my gear, the paramedics told the officer I had full protective gear on. This was mentioned several times, there, in the helicopter and in the emergency room. Each time the information was met with approval. Since I was strapped down, I could no longer see anyone unless they were standing directly over me. I was loaded into an ambulance and immediately felt I was in good hands. They put needles in my arms, cut my pants legs and I didn’t object, they talked about cutting my boots off and I said, NO, my feet are fine, and wiggled my feet and moved my legs, just take them off please, and they removed my Sidi Riding boots without harm. The ambulance took me to an “LZ” where I was loaded into a chopper. I so much appreciate the speed of the chopper as opposed to an ambulance ride back to Redding, but I have to say this was by far the worst chopper ride I’ve ever had. I wasn’t in dire pain, but just extremely uncomfortable. As I was being loaded into the chopper I heard someone say “keep your head down.” I thought he was talking to me and I thought, are you kidding me. My foot snagged on something in the helicopter causing me to grimace a little but then I was pivoted in, a first aid women sat behind my head, she was sardined in there as I was, her radio dug into my scalp a little. My sciatic area was extremely uncomfortable, I needed to stretch but couldn’t, I was dehydrated but they refused to give me any water because everyone thought I was going immediately into surgery. I so appreciated the ambulance people and the helicopter rescue crew, but I really wasn’t enjoying this chopper ride. When I recalled this experience later someone asked me if I had been in a chopper before, many times, I responded. We lived in a remote area of north central British Columbia called Germansen Landing for 20 years. I met my wife there and we raised our kids there. Several of my neighbors and I were timber fallers so when forest fires blew up in our area we were called upon to help set up advanced landing zones. Three of us loaded our saws, gas, ropes, axes, spikes and some water and food into the side bay of the Hughes 500, a very powerful chopper with four smaller diameter blades that allow it to get into tighter spots than the usual Bell 206. We were flown up above the fire line on a steep mountain ridge, the pilot found a spot that would have to do and hovered just above the steep slope, the front of his skids just touching the ground. We slithered out gently just as he had warned us we must do, retrieved our gear, gently, and he took off. In an hour or so we had opened up the tree line and built a sturdy platform for the chopper to actually land on and start ferrying pumps, hoses and people up the mountain. When I was a freelance writer I was invited to join a wolverine tagging project and we flew all around the Omineca Mountains checking live traps, collecting hair samples until finally we got a female wolverine in a live trap, unhurt. The guttural, primal growl that came from that 30-pound demon weasel made you want to turn and run for your life. The biologists knocked it out with a hypodermic needle on the end of a pole and when docile, pulled a tooth, clipped some hair, drew some blood and fixed a radio collar. When finished they gave me the honor of naming her, so I named her Jessica, after my daughter. Another time a French made A-Star helicopter carefully dropped into our property to take me to do a write up on helicopter logging far away across Williston Lake, my opening would have been ample for a 206, easily large enough for a Hughes 500, but an A-Star is much bigger. The pilot let me know that he didn’t exactly enjoy flying into that tight of a space. Got it. That trip was long and watching the helicopter logging was interesting. The wolverine helicopter ride was fun, the firefighting helicopter ride was exciting, even the time a 206 flew me up to a ridge top not far from my house to cover an airplane crash was somber but thrilling. The ride to Redding did not rank high on my numerous helicopter rides, of no fault to the expert crew, I was solely responsible for my level of discomfort. After 25 minutes of so, I heard the pitch of the rotors change and knew we were descending. I was wheeled into the hospital and almost immediately into the CAT scan machine, when I was out I met my surgeon, Dr. Osborne and he told me what we were dealing with, pelvis broke in four places, two broken ribs, broken scapula, deep bruises, minor road rash, etc. I had a minute of time to myself in the CAT scan room and found my phone in my riding pants, they were still on me just cut up. I called my wife and heard her always cheery voice: “Hey, hi, how are you doing?” I gently informed her of my situation and knew it would be difficult to get her to calm down. Finally I told her my plan. Get our air mattress and throw it in the back of the truck, we have a Chevy pickup with a canopy. Throw in a bunch of blankets and pillows and please come get me. I was wheeled into ICU and came under the care of Adriana, day shift and Jason night shift. I begged her for water, she was not allowed to give me water because we didn’t know when surgery was scheduled. I pleaded once again for water and mercifully she gave me some ice to suck on. It wasn’t too long we learned that Doctor Osborne had scheduled the operation for the next morning so I was allowed drink and have some light food. Redding’s Mercy Hospital is a trauma-level hospital and I immediately felt I was in expert hands. The next day Doctor Osborne, a heavily praised orthopedic trauma surgeon placed two long screws through my pelvis and that started me on my road to recovery. Part 4 recovery and reflection to follow
  8. choco

    The Crash

    Thanks Brian, I probably won't want to practice that technique though.
  9. choco

    The Crash

    Will do, thanks.
  10. choco

    The Crash

    Is this Jimbob formerly from Newport, Oregon? In any case, long time no see. Thanks for your sentiments. I'm doing ok.
  11. choco

    The Crash

    The Crash Part 2 I had studied the routes on the California trip many months in advance right after Derek Condon posted them and set the itinerary way back last winter. I was excited to join my VFRD riding friends this summer and committed right away. I talked my friend and neighbor Jake Crowley in coming as we’ve been riding more and more together the last few years. We’re from Duvall, WA. Last year the VFRD gang journeyed to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I was not able to join but followed their adventures on Facebook and VFRD as best I could. As a consolation ride, Jake and I rode up through Kamloops, to Jasper, down the Columbia Icefields Parkway, the most beautiful scenery anywhere, back through Revelstoke, Nelson and home. Great ride, me on my Sixth Gen 2004 VFR, Jake on his new Harley Street Glide with a stage-something kit and a loud stereo. His bike accelerates hard. As I studied the routes for the California trip, the second day out of Redding stood out to me as being a grind. Three hundred plus miles in the curves is quite a load, especially seeing as how it would be our fifth day of riding in a row, so I studied the route and looked for ways to lop off some miles, but didn’t find too many options. I put those concerns aside as the day of departure drew ever nearer. I only mention it now because upon reflection it seems there were signs and premonitions about that ride on that day. I was seriously considering getting a new bike before the trip. My ole’ girl had just under 90,000 miles on the odometer and I was a little worried about something failing on the trip. Two years earlier I had a problem with my fan digging into my radiator at the beginning of a lengthy Oregon trip, the problem was fixed in the field at Winthrop, WA with Derek and Rob and Jim and the usual suspects of mechanically minded friends I’ve ridden with for years. Our field fix caused a delay the first day but ultimately the trip was a complete success after that and I got a new radiator upon returning home. The fan pushed into the radiator as a result of a crash a year or so before, my first crash. It was a slow speed crash where I changed my mind when turning down a side road, decided at the last minute I didn’t want to turn down that road and turned a little too sharply and my front tire found some residual sand from the winter sanding they do occasionally here during Seattle winters. The lesson there is don’t bring your bike out in February even if the roads look good, and if you ignore the first part use more rear break if you even suspect there may be sand on the road. The slow speed tip over resulted in the bike dropping on and breaking my left ankle. I drove home with a broken ankle, by the time I got home shifting was problematic so I over-revved a bit here and there in order to avoid a shift. That slow speed crash was nowhere near as violent and life threatening as this latest cliff dive, nevertheless the healing time could not be hurried. Sometime after returning to work my boss asked me if I was still going to ride and I didn’t hesitate to say yes, “back in the saddle” and all that. He sighed and then asked if I had at least learned anything from my crash. “Yes,” I answered. “I usually don’t ride so slowly and I was going pretty slow and I crashed. So I learned not to go slow.” I suppose it’s a good thing I’m the chief field surveyor at my company as I teach all the new recruits so am somewhat valuable to the company. At least that’s what I like to believe. In any case after fixing the cosmetic damage, I hadn’t realized the radiator bracket had bent and the fan was touching the delicate aluminum radiator, but it wasn’t until I rode it on a hot day, the first day of our Oregon trip that the fan kicked in and gouged out the radiator. So I had that in the back of my mind prior to the California trip and thought about getting a new bike, but mine is so old, still a looker in my opinion and runs like new, but too old for a trade in, far too many miles. Nobody was going to appreciate my bike like I do and I always worked at keeping it looking and running like new. I had a new paint job two years ago, had the forks seals done this spring, new Pirelli Angel GTs, new oil, and new saddle bags on the old girl as I prepared for the California trip. I had a new stator ready to go but decided to check my charging system which indicated everything was fine. Just in case I laid out the new one with a new gasket on my shop bench to make it easy for Pauline to overnight it to me should the need arise somewhere on the trip. But right up to the last day I was still looking at getting a deal on an Eighth Gen VFR, or even a Seventh Gen, although Jim had offered me a brand new Seventh Gen a year earlier for under 10 grand but I didn’t take it. For some reason I was doubting something about my bike, which has always been reliable and dialed from the beginning. I’ve got the equivalent of more than three trips around the world on that bike without so much as a burp but something about this California trip was causing me doubts, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Jake and I left on Friday, one day after the Fourth of July. We knew neither would be getting much sleep that night so planned an easy day and travelled the best roads we knew to Hood River. Jim met us for breakfast the next morning and we headed to Bend, another fairly easy day. I had another bike glitch that gave me doubts. After stopping at a scenic pullout just south of Mount Hood to put on warmer gear, I noticed my speedometer was erratic, bouncing around single digit numbers. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but thought I had read somewhere on the VFRD blogs that someone had noticed similar activity just before their stator went out. My original stator went out at about 55,000 miles and I was now close to 90,000 so thought it could be possible, which is why I purchased a new one and had it on standby at home. We finally dropped down into a town and I checked my charging at a parts house and it was charging around 13.5-13.9 volts so that seemed good enough and I tried to put it out of my mind. Was this another premonition, I thought later? Was something trying to tell me that my bike was not going to rack up too many more miles. Those thoughts didn’t occur to me then, but later, after the accident while trying to ferret out warning signs I might have overlooked. On the way to Bend I led Jake and Jim to Smith Rock State Park, an amazing rock formation ridiculously close to the highway. In Bend, we met Derek and Tammy, Jeff and Coraline, Steve and Christina, and Craig Vaughn. It was fun catching up and seeing Jake and my other friends hitting it off so well so fast. The next day we headed for Redding and stopped off at Crater Lake. The procession was bigger and Derek broke out his drone for some pictures of us at Crater Lake. Pretty cool stuff, who’d of thought someone was packing a drone. We rode past Mt. Shasta when suddenly we ran into a stop and go traffic jam on I-5, but Jake led us down the shoulder and we passed at least 10,000 vehicles until we finally broke free. It was Sunday, the last day of the Fourth of July holiday and everybody in California just happened to be heading south the same day as us. Luckily lane splitting was legal. We didn’t exactly ride between cars, we rode the wide open shoulder but were prepared to claim ignorance if stopped. We never saw a cop in 20 miles. We got our rooms taken care of and met Curry, Miguel, the founder of VFRD, and Craig Sample at the hotel in Redding. Miguel had ridden out from Colorado Springs, Curry and Craig came from the greater Portland area. After a dip in the pool and a great dinner gathering at the Cattleman restaurant, we all gathered in the parking lot to BS. Derek and Jim pushed me to fix my speedo, knowing it was likely just a little plastic nut that had stripped out with overuse. I couldn’t have had better people around me Derek took the first crack at it and later Miguel sat down, pulled my speedo housing off and dug the little plastic nut out and showed me how it had just wore out on the back side where it fits over the shaft. With a little duct tape, he was able to pressure fit it back on the shaft and it worked just fine. I felt privileged seeing Miguel, the VFRD guru, working on my bike in the parking lot. The next day the procession of 11 or so bikes rolled out of the parking lot. Two were ADV bikes, Steve packed his wife on the back of his V-Strom 1000, Jeff carried his wife on the back of his Triumph Tiger 800. Both Steve and Jeff are expert riders and their pace matched the more dedicated sportier bikes we were riding. Amazing how well those guys are able to ride with passengers on ADV bikes. There is no substitute for experience and skill. We rode the twisty mountain roads hard that day, putting in around 200 miles or so. We all ride at a good pace which requires one’s undivided attention on the asphalt ribbon constantly unfurling before us. I’ve always enjoyed riding fast-paced, but when riding solo I tend to intersperse fast riding with a more leisurely sight-seeing pace. I was concerned for Jake mostly because his big Harley is plenty quick but big cruisers don’t allow for much lean angle. I was hoping he wasn’t going to try too hard to keep up with us. We always wait for each other at every major turn or at other obvious spots and sure enough, Jake was never too far behind and we chuckled to hear his loud stereo coming toward us. He said it was actually good to lose sight of us because then he had no reason to overdrive the roads in hope of keeping us in reach. He rode his comfortable pace as we all should. I always advise new riders to ride at their own pace and generally follow my own advice, I annoyed myself, however, because I wasn’t taking time to slow down and take in the refreshingly different California scenery. We rode through hills and canyons where oak and pines dominated the flora in contrast to towering firs and cedars of the Pacific Northwest of home. At one stop I asked a few within earshot if they noticed that really cool house cantilevered over the hillside of oaks and grape vine rows? Nobody else saw it. How about that tree with the hundreds of pairs of tennis shoes tangled in its limbs? Nope. When we ride the pace we all ride, the only way to stay safe is to concentrate on the road, leaving little time for sightseeing. Everybody is free to ride at their own comfortable pace so I am not making any comment on the group’s pace, if anything I am annoyed that I didn’t follow my own advice and instincts to slow down a little more now and then and look around. Nevertheless, we all had a great ride that day and retreated to the pool and once again, after pub food and a beer or two, gathered in the parking lot in the evening. Later that night just before going to bed Jake and I talked about the very subject in the above paragraphs and I discovered he was feeling more or less the same way as I did. We both decided the two of us would split off from the group the next morning and head east of Redding to Lassen Volcano area, a much shorter ride with some interesting scenery to be had. The plan was to take an easy day on our fifth day and stop by Lee’s Honda on the way back, very close to our hotel, and pick up one of those plastic speedo nuts and maybe even a Lee’s Honda T-shirt. So that was the plan for the next day we agreed just before turning off the lights in our room: take it easy, just Jake and I riding east, seeing some different scenery, getting a T shirt with my name on it, getting a new part for my bike, back to the pool to wait for the road weary group to return. What could go wrong? The next morning I woke up and started thinking about it and had a sudden change of heart. I announced to Jake I had decided to go ahead and ride with the group after all . . . . Part 3 to follow.
  12. choco

    The Crash

    Wow, that's crazy you were there. Sorry I didn't wave to you. My Remus pipes are good and maybe some other tidbits, the bike is in an impound in Douglass City, California, the company that got my bike is Douglass City Garage. Not sure you're interested but you might know someone from around there and I'd like to let anyone know there might be some parts to salvage. I'd like to get my GPS mount, had fairly new Angel GT tires and fancy levers, etc and a ram mount.
  13. choco

    The Crash

    Not sure I put this under the correct heading, moderator feel free to move to proper heading. Part 2 to follow
  14. choco

    The Crash

    August 6, 2019 The Crash It’s been 28 days since I crashed in the mountains west of Redding, California on July 9th. It’s high time I write about my experience as it involves so many more people than me. Besides that, long before I was a rider, I was a professional writer/reporter and still love to write—I have had plenty of time to reflect upon my crash and a close brush with death and thought some of you, especially those of you who were with me and helped me out of the creek and those who helped stabilize me and to recover, might like to know how things are going. I also have a greater circle of friends and family who would like to be brought up to date on my recovery. I will be posting this to my Facebook page and of course to VFRD, the place where my circle of riding friends began and several of them were with me and witnessed the crash. To be honest, writing is a respite from the mind-numbing content on TV. I’m not saying it’s all bad, just mostly all bad. I normally work on my feet all day and being bed-bound and chair-bound makes me feel like a Labrador locked in a kennel. I need to get moving. Since there are many angles and aspects to the crash, the lead up to the crash and the aftermath-- which continues, I’m going break this up into several parts as I realize most folks don’t have as much time to read as I now do to write. But to get the important part out of the way, I’m doing pretty darn well. Of course I have a lot of people to thank for that, but my wife Pauline is my angel of mercy. We’ve been married 40 years and I’ve never seen anyone so unselfish, so nurturing and so worried about the health and contentment of everyone around her. The fact I was not killed when I could easily have been killed that day and that God has allowed me to return to my wife, to my life, to my kids, grandkids and friends, is what has kept me in good spirits throughout the ordeal. Pauline looks after me, is beside me, cooks good nutritious food for me, gets my pills ready for me, helps me inject blood thinner, dumps my overnight urine bottles, and scolds me if I try to push my recovery too fast. I cannot overlook the fact she’s also handled all the paperwork involved with the doctors, hospitals, insurance, disability income forms, etc. I broke my pelvis in four places, my left scapula, two ribs and had deep bruises along my thighs, seemingly bruising me to the marrow of my bones. I also have this thing along my upper left thigh/hip area called a hematoma. This is a big slab of spongy flesh where the muscle was tenderized and the blood vessels are engorged with blood and it’s exactly where a good set of hip pads should have been, the only failing in my otherwise full complement of protective gear. My riding pants have Kevlar patches and knee armor, but no hip pads, I was scanning the web for a set just before my trip but didn’t find what I was looking for. I had minor road rash, a result of running out of road and spilling over a boulder embankment said to be somewhere between 20 and 30 feet high. The people who winched my poor old bike out of the creek told my step daughter Sarah (who took care of the extraction of the bike from the creek), it was all of 30 feet, but who’s counting. All in all, there was little pain as long as I didn’t move my legs or pelvis, but when I did have to move I had to move very gingerly, I didn’t realize the pelvis connected so much to so much. Now I know. When the nurses slid me off a gurney onto the CAT Scan table the pain was excruciating, when they slid me off the Cat Scan table back to the hospital bed I bellowed out, and when they prepared me for surgery and got ready to slide me from my bed onto the operating table I pleaded with the anesthesiologist to knock me out first and he complied. Sweet dreams. So today, 28 days later, that crunching, grinding sound in my pelvis is mostly gone, thanks to two oversize titanium screws going from one side of my pelvis into the other, and to healing of the slighter fractures. The deep thigh bruises are feeling better, my scapula is now bolted back together, and titanium was needed as the “displacement” was just too great to allow it to heal on its own. The hematoma is getting smaller every day and the ink-black bruises along my back and inner thighs are either gone (back) or light and fading (thigh). I can get around on crutches better than Pauline and the doctors probably like because they worry I will try to do too much too soon. I don’t see why I can’t use my lawnmower as a walker. I’m planning on putting down my hickory hardwood floor before I go back to work, I suppose I should wait until I get the ok from my doctor, or three weeks, whichever comes first. Don’t worry, Pauline won’t let me do anything stupid. Part 2 to follow.
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