I thought today I would be posting about the anniversary of Snowpocalypse, what I learned, and how I changed my habits to be prepared for something like that again in the future.
But instead I am writing from a raw place of anger and pain. And that is not what I anticipated so soon into my transition towards motorcycle and women’s solo travel.
On Sunday I took my beloved bike out for a quick ride on a beautiful day after a slew of dreary winter rain. It was fabulous.
And on my return leg, not far from home, I stopped at a traffic light behind two other cars. As the light turned green I followed those cars straight through the intersection. I saw the car waiting to turn left. She was stopped. But as I made my way through, she began to make her turn.
There was no time. Even going slowly, having just been at a stop, it was too late. I looked down and watched her headlight plow into my knee and crush it against my motorcycle. The next thing I remember was waking up on the ground, disembodied faces hovered over me as I writhed in pain. And the dreaded words from the driver of the car that hit me… “I didn’t see you.”
Help came quickly. I was fortunate that a nurse stopped. Linda was wonderful, helpful, and kind. And I’m so grateful for her. But even though she did a great job at keeping me calm, I went into shock as I felt the EMTs cut my riding gear from me. The reality of the situation came crashing down.
I was whisked off to the hospital. And shortly into emergency surgery to repair the femoral artery severed when my femur snapped. This is after they had to knock me out to resolve the fracture back into place, pulling at each end of my leg to realign my femur.
Fortunately during that surgery, the orthopedist decided he could install the permanent metal rod and screws into my leg instead of a temporary contraption to stabilize it. That saved me an extra round of surgery later.
And now I sit in ICU, simply healing, hooked to about a million tubes and wires. There are countless staples up both sides of my thigh. I’m in agony in spite of the drugs. And I’m processing what my life will be like for the next few months. And beyond.
Many of the first responses riders are subject to is the party line of how dangerous motorcycling is. That’s bullshit. Seventy percent… yes SEVENTY percent, of motorcycle crashes are the fault of a driver “not seeing” the motorcycle. So that isn’t on us.
I did everything right. I’m professionally trained. I had proper, high quality protective gear. It was hi-viz. I keep proper distance from other vehicles. I watch what’s happening around me, diligently.
But none of that matters if the drivers around you aren’t paying attention.
Motorcycling isn’t the problem. Complacency by auto drivers is. Seventy percent…
It reminds me of last year when much of the backlash after a woman was attacked on the Silver Comet trail here in Atlanta when so many of the comments about her were the victim-blaming “She shouldn’t have been out alone” type. I was filled with anger. It was so backwards and small-minded.
Blaming motorcycling for simply being dangerous is a cop-out. It’s a perfectly reasonable activity. Riders simply enjoy the sport, the engagement with the landscape that comes with riding, and the freedom a motorcycle gives us.
The irony of having to write this post now is that I was working on one that was a list of the things all riders want drivers to know. I’ll have to get back to that one in a bit.
I’ve always promised to keep it real here. Mostly my life and adventures are fun and hopefully inspirational. But when I look back at the things I’ve had to be real about over the last few years, I do laugh a bit… my tumor, the toe incident, the hand, and now this. Life is risky no matter what you’re doing. Living fully in the face of that is what’s important.
The outpouring of love and support I’ve gotten through this has been overwhelming.
As I sit here in ICU writing this and realizing I can’t even stand up, I’m overcome with tears. I can’t care for myself. I can’t care for my sons. I can’t even go to the bathroom on my own. I can’t do any of the things I love. The mounds of medical bills and legal hassles ahead… all because she didn’t see me.
For an independent person like me, it’s crushing. But the people around me are amazing. I’m very fortunate and grateful for all of them.
Please remember… there are real people under those helmets. Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, friends. I beg you to pay attention.