Well, I'm a blogger.
I'll start by thanking Wayne for the call to arms and then it's Hello, to you. If you’re a Riders member on Facebook then you may have seen my posts over there and if not or if your new, HA-HA. ( smiling,I hear Nelson from the Simpsons as he points his yellow cartoon finger,at you).
This blog adds up to 3 monthly submissions for me so, for awhile I will be blogging previously published words here. You may recognize some from The Riders Mag & Bikelife Inc also, as I have a section in Critters publication too but many will be fresh to you, I'll be doing relevant stuff as often as I can, whatever bloggers do in this, the ether world of words.
So, here's my first blog. HA- HA
Right off Ill warn you all that it's 0530am here in northern Alberta and its day 19 of 21 straight work days for me, with the last 7 being night shift. So, if I stop making sense well, you'll know why.
I live over there in Peterborough but work in Alberta, a tiring commute or 2000 miles every 14 days. Which segues nicely to my next post,The Hurt, the story of my stepson ‘s Motocross accident. I was in transit when it happened and my wife, she was alone at the racetrack but you are about to know all that.
There is an update to the situation. Adam has had something go wrong inside, I think the titanium hardware has come loose but being a stubborn ass he wont tell. A serious infection, which worries me about the possibility of Meningitis, has to be quelled and then hes scheduled for major spinal surgery on April 04. The doctor has hinted that the results may not be like the first time... So, if that date remains firm , I don’t think Ill be at the Spring show this year..
Read on my friends, learn of a terrible day 6 years ago.
Calgary. Waiting and wearing away, wanting to be back home.
The 3 hour layover was beginning to grind on me as I waited to fly north, to where in our individual ways, the foolish ventured to work. “What's up?” Call display told me my wife was there but muffled shouting answered me, out of reach somewhere in the background. “Lisa ?” something else now and it puzzled me. The thump of helicopter blades cutting the distant humidity and I thought how strange, because she's at the racetrack back in Ontario with our son and the only reason a helo would be there is...
“Lisa?” growing concern now. Leading into the season Adam had struggled to ready his ancient RM125 and his frustration and disappointment showed as his dreams of racing dashed away from him. Spurred by my own lost hopes of road racing success it was clear what I had do. Adam started that MX
season with a new KTM 250 SXF and matching gear and he was fast!
“Hello!” Please I thought, answer me. The helicopter was close now, threatening to drown out any reply.
I never again want to hear my wife make a noise like she did then because it will break me. A moan, choked by tears and some terrible animal sound. Frightened and helpless. As her words began I tried to maintain composure in the busy airport.
“Adam. Alone. Help me.” Like an auditory strobe light those words burnt black after images on my psyche, flickering and then a word came that I understood but refused to comprehend.
He was riding full on that day in Lindsay, chasing a championship from second place. Only Adam knows why he failed to scrub enough speed over that roller and as the rear stayed light the KTM threw a huge roost as it entered the complex section, spinning instead of driving. Out of rhythm now and staring at the long triple ahead, he knew the hurt waited for him on the face of the middle table top. His want overruled his mind and knowing he was too slow to make it, he tried anyway and gassed it into the limiter in a desperate attempt to keep the front up. The mistake must have made him feel sick as he spotted his landing spot.
From 3500 km away her word reached through the cellular void and squeezed my heart. “Paralyzed” and a soft sob and then at once Lisa cried and screamed.Jerking to my feet as the noisy airport disappeared, my fight or flight
instinct took over and I considered both. In that moment I would have fought to run home. You and I risk much more then an individual penalty as we pursue our two wheeled passion. We hold the hearts of those who love us in our right hands and whether through mistake or misfortune, can rip it out of their chest. I use my stepsons accident here and of course racing is different then the unexpected but the results are the same.
“I don’t know what to do.” No other words could have hurt me more, I was so far away. I saw her then on the track, trembling beside her broken son and not knowing what to do, alone. The mannerisms I knew so well would take over but at a frenetic pace as she verged on the insane.
“The helicopters here...what?” questioning a muffled voice “No, I don’t care. Lets go!” she answered the medic.
“ They’re taking him to Kingston” and as the connection flooded with thumping rotor blades her final words to me. “Kingston. I have to go.”
A complicated click and then nothing. The narrow connection to my world cut but the scene played on in my mind and I couldn’t turn it off.
A boy, not understanding why he cant move, strapped down with his head immobilized. Frightened eyes desperately searching to see why but only the helicopters cabin roof within view. My wife in shock and as the craft noses down to gather speed she reaches for her son and wipes his tears away. His face is streaked with dirt. Hardly noticing the ground rushing by
below, she’s in full attack mode now and the 300 kph air ambulance is way too slow. She scream’ sat no one and everyone. “FASTER!” and rocks back and forth on the narrow bench seat, forcing away the reality of what's just happened.
The truth is relentless and the unknown damning. Will my son waste away, confined to a bed and will he both curse the dream of racing and yearn for it? Will he be able to cope with the loss of his legs, will I ? Will the initial denial, that some never relinquish, capture him and crush his spirit and heart ? The hate and sorrow and the loss, the dependence on others to exist. The confusion of our possible futures and how we will get there.
The psychological impact is the true hurt and as we zoom from turn to turn or blurt that Harley
down main street we need to remember the people who complete us. The parents and partners and our children and friends. As these words come to me so too does the emotion and like always, I relive my tale as I write. Words and tears mixing together. Painting my families pain for you here is my warning of the horror that is held in a moment of time, the potential that rides along with us, waiting to be set free.
Kingston.Overwhelmed by exhaustion and dread.
Lisa ran to me in the hospital hallway smiling so bright my fears were chased away. “Adam can feel!” she exhaled and finally able to let go of her shield, she broke in my arms. God masqueraded as a surgeon that day and gave Adam his legs back.
Post accident by three years and the horror lingers to haunt us. With the wound left by Adams injury and recovery still open, my wife's eyes are wet and I see the pain as she again tries to hold fast to her shield. Guilt rakes my soul because today she watches me ride away and today she will wait alone, wondering if I will return to her.
Before I go, an awkward hug around leather and armour brings her lips to my ear. A soft whisper “Don’t leave me alone David.”
Post accident six years and Adam only free rides now and is having serious issues with his installed titanium upgrades and numbness in his legs. I'm sure there are many other problems with his body that he keeps to himself, that’s just Adam. I wonder, does he have nightmares of a life with no legs,trapped in a body that doesn't answer his commands have nightmares of a life with no legs, trapped in a body that doesn't answer his commands.
As Dr. Dan Borshneck explained how he was forced to add intuition to his knowledge as he placed nerves in pathways he could only hope were the correct ones, we understood how damaged Adam had been. His dural sheath around the spinal cord had been torn, exposing the nerves to bone fragments from a shattered L-1 vertebrae and the cord stretched to the
point of breaking. Meticulously the surgeon rewired my step son and gave him his life back. A year of therapy and re-learning to command muscles that were distant and numb. A year of screaming for help in the dead of night and wondering if he would ever function properly below the waist. A year of hell for his care givers. A year to ride again and a year later Adam claimed that Championship that almost cost him so much.
Re-reading this as I edited, my words tried to take me back to that day and I let them. How I suddenly went deaf in that noisy airport, except for my wife's voice and that terrible sick feeling as the World changes course in some vast and cosmic maneuver of despair. From what was real into the void between our possible futures. I promised in Delusions, Doctors and Why I Ride a V-twin to tell you the story of my step sons accident but the true meaning here is one of
respect and empathy. I know some of you are thinking screw it, live life like it was your last moment but that is selfish and if you were to examine hat thought truthfully, most will see how we mitigate the dangers. I ride fast but with precision and defensively and even in my younger years, when I really did live a YOLO life, the fear of consequence was always present. I didn’t have a bike when Adam crashed but my wife knew of the passion that roiled inside of me and that both the road and track begged me to return back to two wheels. But as I stood at his bedside and watched my injured step son try to hide fear of paralysis behind his frantic eyes, I closed the door on ever riding again. After what my wife had been through how could I ask her to bare the possibility of a horrific phone call, informing a loving wife that her husband would never come back from his morning ride. After all, I know about those calls.
I turn the wick up only when and where it is proper to do so and I wear the best gear I can afford and I practice. Even though I utilize a lifetime of training and experience and the respect for machine and my short -comings too, we all know that the best we can do is balance the scales. Disaster is always waiting with a thumb held in potential, resting o nits end of the beam.
It’s a strange thing, writing about yourself. Picture a warm summer evening in 1972 and from out there under the glowing streetlights, a sound like no other beckons an eight year old boy to his bedroom window.
I knew what it was and as I peered outside a tachometer needle swept up my soul on it’s way into the red zone and then I saw him. A madman, complete with an open face gold metal flake helmet and a cape (!) well, it was a fake leather jacket, undone and flapping in the wind. I saw a cape. The sound of that first gen Kawasaki Z1 screaming through the night marked me and an inline four on the pipe still fills me with... what, exactly. It’s impossible to find a simple word for it, chills?, exhilaration?, or maybe love. Passion...yes. The wide eyed imaginings of a child corralled by the knowledge of an adult fills me up, every time. Thirty - eight years in for me now and even with a few of those annexed away from bikes, the passion has never waivered.
I started on a true beginners motor bike, a 400cc twin but man, did I ride the wheels off that Yamaha Seca. My childhood imagination came with me onto that first bike and then I was a road racing star, flashing through the hamlets and past the hedgerows on the Isle of Mann course, chasing Joey Dunlop. Faster and faster I rode until I was a mere bike length behind him and then, well then a delusional 16 year olds reality rudely black flagged my ass. My phantom rival Joey was waiting in the recovery room with a cuppa tea and his crooked smile, just like always. No, wait (!), oh no. That scruffy Irishman, wearing bug splattered black leather transformed into my Mother and was she pissed (!) and frightened, and pissed.
I soon outgrew that 400 and moved on to the 500cc grand prix race replicas of the late eighties. Those four cylinder two strokes began to teach me the respect I hold so high today but still, spectacular displays of mayhem and pain seemed to be my forte’, as I tried too hard to be fast. I mean, who takes a light switch RG500 out in monsoon like rains on purpose just to see how fast you can go. By then I had figured out that a gentle caress was what true speed wanted but with adolescent impulse, my hands and feet rushed clumsily for the win. Cue that dam marshall and his black flag.
A soft chime (ding) and rubber soles squeaked on gleaming linoleum as a figure walks past, dressed in pale blue scrubs.
“I almost caught you that time Joey but the back broke loose through that puddle and came around so fast that... well, the doctor says my shoulder should be ok” and reaching out with my working arm, “thanks for the tea, mate.” But instead of tea, he leaned forward and ran his hand through that trademark unruly black hair and spoke, “Aye, you were dead-on for the checkers up ‘til then.” But his thick northern accent melted into that menacing hiss only Mothers possess and then the doctor shimmered into existence too. “Another reckless kid on a donor-cycle”, his eyes seemed to say, glaring. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him if I could still ride because man, they were both pissed! Dam you reality !
I suppose I had matured somewhat because by 1989 my 500 Gamma was still breathing through those wicked rotary disc’s and stupidly, I sold it. Don’t mistake, I had crashed multiple times but I was learning the secrets to staying alive and being fast, in between catching up with Joey in the emergency room. But now Fast Freddy, Lawson and Kenny Roberts were there arguing with him over the merits of coffee verses tea.
The lure of the road took a sharp turn after that and two wheels lost out to 18 and then 30 as I became a paid gypsy. Leaving the eight hour shifts of a local factory for work days so long I sometimes saw two sun ups before stopping to sleep. I found myself driving 15,000 miles a month for next to nothing after expenses. Eating crap food and main lining coffee to stay awake with constant stress strangely mixed with endless hours of boredom. It was all moving my finish line closer with every dam mile that I drove. Although, I can boast of knowing that Climax, Ball Club, Clam Falls and Clappers are all in Minnesota and if its winter and raining in Chilliwack, the Coquihalla summit will be buried in snow. Being a truck driver is a shit life filled with danger that can wreck your body, destroy your home life and if you let it, melt your mind into slag. I loved it.
Not until 1997 did I buy another bike. I have a penchant for motorcycles that are unique and this one’s abilities and innovative technology put it at the head of the oddball class. Aficionados in the UK named it the Widow maker, although my first wife was already gone by then.
Don’t marry the shooter girl from a dingy stripper bar in Winnipeg, just some friendly advice there and that’s for a different kind of magazine. Suzuki’s TL1000s was my first big V-twin experience and did I ever choose right ! A rip snortin’, fast revving monster able to unfortunately, outrun that innovative tech I mentioned. Aggressive rake and trail numbers and a funky rotary rear spring dampener could turn a taunt and brutish sport bike into a shaking and weaving death machine.
Four years later a very fast dip in the road over came that rotary dampener and let the rear spring free, setting in play a lovely 200 kph weave. We walked across the centerline to the outside dirt shoulder where the front tucked and faster then I could grunt, the right bar smashed my hand into the ground. Then into the forest we went.
An Aussie accent this time. “Don’t worry mate. I broke my leg so bad once, the doc had to sew it to the other one to pick up a blood supply. I was a bloody mermaid mate (!), I had to get a Sheila to help me... well, you know. No worries, you almost caught me.” Mick Doohan winked at me from the foot of the gurney as the pain in my hand flared and I drifted on a wave of morphine and black flags. The TL was dead, horribly. I loved it.
I sat on the bed as the doctor clamped what looked like linesman’s pliers on the pin poking out through my second metacarpal knuckle, one of three on the agenda.
He yanked... hard and almost pulled me off the sheets.
I raised my brow at him, questioning and he frowned.
“Hmm” and he exhaled. Never good when the doctor is perplexed and with that, he braced a foot on the bedside and said “ I don’t think this will hurt.”
It was a ploy, the bastard and then in my moment of comprehension he snapped those pliers with a slight push and then...
POP! He was right but maybe hurt would’ve been better then the weird slithering sensation as 10 cm’s of titanium broke free and appeared out of my right hand, tugging at the skin around the hole. Interesting.
I waited until he was done and chanced my usual inquiry, “Will I be able to twist the throttle?” A flash of concern in his eyes but that strange doctor smiled back at me as Mick and the boys stood behind, roaring with laughter. That’d be a yes !
So, then it was off to the local shop where the RC51 waited for me. Honda has used the “ Racing Corporation” moniker since 1958 and under that racing only badge have created such craziness as an in line 6 cylinder 250 (!), the famous RC166. Check YouTube for these precision sewing machines and turn the volume up !
Compared to the competition the ’51 is overweight and without HRC’S unobtainable race kit, down on power but what it does have is that unique “oneness” that was the mantra of Soichiro Honda and his companies racing arm are masters of it. The sometimes flighty TLs taught me fast doesn’t need to be frantic and that torque is king, especially on the street but the RC51 is worlds beyond the Suzuki and is the embodiment of what Honda does. Powerful and raw enough to win and yet composed to the point of perfection. Telepathy between the rider, road and the machine.
I’ve learned that “sneaky fast” is just as fast as 15,000 screaming rpm, wholly shit there’s too much going on fast. It’s all about the torque and the Honda lays it down in an unbroken streak of rubber or if you prefer, an effortless wheelie but be ready on the back brake because those two huge pistons mean immediate reaction to the slightest throttle input. Turn the twist grip and the next piston stroke snaps your arms straight and lofts the front, all at 4000 rpm ! Brutal and immediate and I love it.
I’m well in to my 50’s now and still behind the wheel of a big truck although not on the open road anymore. The trade off is a 2000 mile commute and half a year away from home. My wife still cries every time I go and vibrates with excitement when I drag my weary ass in the door. She loves me more then I could ever know.
Six years ago (our) her son broke his back racing MX and of course, I was away and she was alone at the race track with a paralyzed son. Stay tuned here for that tale.
Three years ago she supported my decision to buy another RC51 and even return to the track. She knows I am good, she knows I ride fast and she knows the horror held in potential, in a moment of time. After the anguish and suffering of Adams injury, she accepted the possibility of another tragedy because she knew riding is a part of me.
We kiss and before I pull the helmet on she awkwardly reaches around leather and armour and whispers in my ear. “Come back home David, don’t leave me alone.”Lisa, I think of these things and a million thoughts race, a million emotions desperate to show you that I will.