Sometimes even all the gear isn't quite enough

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By Bokonon

I took my little scooter out for a spin and ended up in the hospital for two days. I have 30 minutes of my life I can't account for.

ATGATT meant no abrasions, but I did take a nasty bump to the head and broke the little finger on my left hand. Gear won't necessarily keep you from getting hurt.

I hadn't ridden the Yamaha 125 scooter regularly since getting my 'real' motorcycle. But then I took it out one day and rediscovered how fun it was to ride. So I put new suspension, tires, and brakes on it. I really wanted to spend a lot more time on it, but instead I lost three months of riding.

I went to what passes for a track day in Taiwan at a go-cart track about 45 minutes from home. I was just going to stay for a couple hours, do a few sessions, and get used to the new parts. Sometime early on in the first session, though, I fell off. I don't know what happened, and it's looking like I never will. I vaguely remember starting out, but I have no idea how many laps I'd run, if there were any other bikes on the track, or how I got back to the start/office area. I know I wasn't going more than 25-35 mph when I crashed, but none of the rest of that bit of time is clear. Or even fuzzy.

After I got out of the hospital, I was surprised to find that I had pictures from the track on my camera.

I took a cab to the local ER to get the finger looked at. The doctor wasn't too concerned, and neither was I. This was my third experience with finger injuries; I'd dislocated the same finger and also the left thumb before. It was actually broken this time. Make an appointment with your local hospital, he said, and I went on my way. Just another minor accident.

After I got home I figured out that there was more going on than just the finger. I felt my left ear plug up, and I tried to hold my nose and blow it out. Pain blasted through the front half of my head. My wife and I decided that a trip to the hospital about 20 blocks away would be a good idea.

The CT scan showed a hematoma, what is basically a bruise, on my brain. The swelling on my face showed that, although it had quit bleeding almost as soon as it started, the blood had to go somewhere. Again, the doctor wasn't that worried. The scan looked fine, but they kept me in a hospital room for two days to monitor me. Hospitals are never fun.

So, how did the wreck happen? I don't know. I'm pretty sure I landed on my head and left hand. I can't say anything beyond that. The bike landed left front first and, being a scooter, received very little damage. I either lost the front or left the sidestand down.

What matters is that, without good gear I:

  • Might still be in the hospital.
  • Wouldn't have 1/2 my face.
  • Would have had some abrasions. My only bleeding was internal.

It was a bit of an emotional time. That was the hardest part to deal with; at one point I was even contemplating selling the bikes because my life was finally going well and I didn't want to screw it up. But not being on a motorcycle would take away a large piece of why life is good in the first place.

The point of all this? Yes, it can happen to you. Yes, you should be prepared. Yes, motorcycling is still dangerous. Yes, Mom.

You know lots of people who dwell on the dangers of motorcycling.

I prefer to consider the joy.