Back in late July (2018) my wife wrecked her bike. She’s a very careful, deliberate rider. She gears up very well, including leather half-chaps that cover the knee, kevlar jeans, kevlar arm sleeves, and, of course, a helmet. Likely these pieces of gear prevented her accident from being worse than it was.
I had just passed her in a cul-de-sac, as we had missed a turn and were slightly off-course, but I knew where we needed to go. She slowed down to let me by, and I took the corner and was on the other side of a slight dip in the road where she was out of sight. As I was prepping for the next turn, I looked back in my mirror but didn’t see her. What I did see was someone running across the street towards the outside of the turn. “Oh, crap,” I thought and made a U-turn to head back.
As I approach the top of the hill, I can see that she’s sitting up on the ground, the bike is on its side with the windshield elsewhere, the seat off and parts laying scattered around. I park the bike, run over to where she’s sitting, facing away from me. As I come around to her front side, I can see there’s blood everywhere. Turns out the pull-down visor from her helmet hit the windshield (or the handlebars) and broke her nose and scraped down the top part of her lip.
She wasn’t really “bleeding” anymore, because a nosebleed typically stops pretty quickly, fortunately. She was clearly in shock and repeated several times “the bike sped up, twice!” Upon the endless review we went through over the accident, we believe that her bike had a faulty throttle position sensor.
The wife laid on the brakes, and our photos from the next day show the line of rubber where she locked them up. Unfortunately, the correct go-to maneuver would’ve been to pull the clutch, in addition to the brakes. In standard transmission cars, heavy equipment and now on the bike I ride… the clutch has always been my “escape hatch”, so to speak, and is complete instinct for me. Slowing down? Pull the clutch. Someone looks to be coming in your lane? Pull the clutch! (And use the brakes, of course.)
So, here she is, covered in blood with an obviously gimpy leg. We are just about 2 blocks from the wonderful Wind River Harley-Davidson dealership in Lawton, Oklahoma. We were so close! It’s 8:30 in the morning, it’s getting hot. While I appear to be pretty calm, I’m panicking a bit. I’m thinking “I need to get her in the A/C out of this sun and indoors.” She limps and hobbles to my bike, I get her on the back seat, and head down to the HD. As we’re getting off, she’s telling me “I can’t walk…” I’ve got my arm under her shoulders and we limp through the front doors.
The staff quickly take notice of the blood and her limping. I apologize for bringing her in (this sure isn’t going to help them sell bikes) and ask where the restroom is to get her cleaned up. They bring over a wheeled office chair for us. (The staff was SO nice…I’m forever grateful.) I’ve got her sitting in their very nice ladies restroom, they’ve brought her a bottle of water, and we’re getting her cleaned up.
While I give her some time to rest, I explain to the staff what’s happened and can I bring the bike to the store. Yes, of course, let’s go get it. They’ve got a pickup and a little trailer perfect for this. The wife is settled for the moment, I head up with the staff to get the bike from around the corner.
When we arrive at “the scene” there are some policemen there, they ask questions, ask for her license (which I am carrying at the moment), want to see insurance, etc. The HD guys have the bike loaded, and we all head back to the dealership.
At this point, there are policemen there, too. And an ambulance that someone called. I’m thinking “Ambulance? She’s just a little banged up.” They go into the bathroom, start checking her out. Turns out (and this is why you don’t move accident victims) that she had a broken knee. We’re pretty sure that when the engine guard pivoted on its center vertical mounts when it hit the ground, that it did the breaking of the knee.
I’m starting to panic a little more and I call my boss, who is very familiar with our company’s medical insurance, to see if he can help me find a “clinic” in the area as opposed to the Emergency Room. My wife is very frugal, and keeping costs down will matter later. Plus… emergency rooms. They’re freaking expensive. The boss advises me that it’s not going to matter much, really, where I go at this point and I should probably let the ambulance take her to the hospital. Okay… if this is best, let’s do it.
The ambulance staff needed to cut her pant leg off to examine the knee and leg. She agreed, but these are Kevlar! Took them the entire ambulance ride to the hospital to cut them off! A problem we were glad to have. The truth is, she broke her knee but didn’t get a scratch, not one, on her legs!
We end up at the Comanche County Memorial Hospital. Not the best experience. When I arrive a short time later at the emergency desk and ask where my wife is, they say “our computers are down right now, we’re not sure”. I snap “well, can you ask someone?!” Apparently not. About 20 minutes later, a policeman comes out and apologizes… “we didn’t know you were here” (thanks a lot, hospital staff!) and would I like to come back.
The hospital recently had some flooding, and don’t actually have all their rooms available. So the wife is on a stretcher, in the hallway. Ugh. She’s gotten a pain pill, so she’s coherent but a little quiet. She explains what she knows thus far. After a time, the hospital puts a brace on the leg, writes a prescription for some pain pills and sends us on our way.
So, we rode on two bikes to Lawton. We were on our way to pick up our new Roll-a-Home trailer in Hobart, OK. I had called Billy, the builder, earlier to let him know we had an accident and I didn’t think we’d make it for pickup this weekend and make our final payment. Billy and his wife were super gracious! “Don’t worry about us…you take care of the wife, we’re not going anywhere, we’ll figure it out later.” Of course, but I had an appointment, and it was critical to me to let them know I wouldn’t be there when expected.
While waiting further at the hospital, I had looked at maybe renting a Ryder truck to take the bike and the wife home. The cost was insane for what I needed. So I made a hotel reservation, called an Uber to get my wife to the hotel, where I would meet them. (I had my bike at the hospital.)
We check into the Comfort Suites right next door to the Wind River HD. It’s very nice. The staff….man, they were so great. They, too, offered us a rolling office chair so I could get her into the elevator and to the room. They let us check in really early; it’s probably about noon now. I get her settled into the room. She’s worn out and in pain. We’re both hungry.
We discuss the plan, which is not to rent a truck, but instead, I’m just going to ride home to Dallas, get the truck and come back. It’s about 4 hours each way, counting stops. And honestly? It’s hot. Like 105° hot. We had made it to Lawton by 8:30 am because we left really, really early (about 5:00am) from Dallas to specifically avoid the heat! The wife is saying “Yeah, you really shouldn’t ride home right now.” We decide that I’m going to stay the night there at the hotel. And I really didn’t want to leave her there by herself right after an accident for about 8 hours. She’s got crutches from the hospital…but, well let’s just say she’s not very good with them.
I run out, fill the prescription and go to Wal-mart to get various food items and drinks. Just… I grabbed all the things we could maybe make in the hotel room’s microwave and store in the mini fridge.
I get up early…about 6am. (That’s early for me!) With 3 or 4 hours on the road, I’ll be home by 10am at the latest, so I’m not in all the heat! I make sure everything is within reach for her and head out. I stop at the front desk to ask for a late checkout, explaining what’s going on and why I need it. No problem! “How’s 3pm sound?” Wow. It’s such a good feeling when people go just a little bit of that extra mile when you are in need.
I get home without incident, grab a quick shower, head back. She’s doing good, as well as can be expected, at least. We load her up in the truck and…back to Dallas we go. 12 hours on the road that day. Oof.
From there it’s Orthopedic visits and an ENT doctor for the nose. (I do NOT recommend D.O.C. Orthopedics. They gouged us like rubes at a gypsy carnival. They did a “billing rate” of $2,500 for this leg brace. Stupid.)
Amazon is great, though. We’ve bought a walker, a wheelchair, crutch pads, shower stool and finally a cane from them. Great prices…fast delivery.
As I write this, it’s been a little over 5 weeks since the accident. Yesterday’s (new) ortho visit x-ray shows the knee is healing well. Combined with physical therapy twice a week, she’s really coming along. The cane gets her around the house if she remembers to grab it! She wears the brace constantly, and likely for another 2-4 weeks.
She’s getting stronger and feeling more confident moving around and getting back to her old job of taking care of me! Fortunately, the wife is a self-employed travel agent and has always worked from home, so she’s able to continue taking care of her current and new clients while laid up in bed or on the couch. My boss is just the absolute best, and working from home is an option as needed (I’m a programmer), as well as the necessary ability to take time off to drive the wife to the doctors and physical therapy visits.
Our biggest regret over the incident was not being able to attend the planned (and paid for!) Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary event in Milwaukee.
A couple of weeks ago, we were at the Whiskey Hollow Distillery. (Their tasting room in town is much smaller than the picture on their site, just FYI.) We had stopped in to sample their whiskeys (wife) and their rums (me). When it was time to leave, other people had shown up and I wasn’t sure how the wife was going to get around them to get out. I asked a fellow in a chair if he wouldn’t mind getting up so the wife could hobble by. No problem! Of course, of course! We went by and his wife asked what happened to the wife’s leg. She explained it was a motorcycle accident, but she couldn’t wait to ride again! Funny you should bring that up, they say…we have a bike for sale! The wife had upgraded to a Deluxe. Our lost bike was an HD 1200T SuperLow. The bike these folks were selling was a 1200 Custom. VERY similar. The fellow tried to show me some picture, but the wife was standing, which isn’t great, so I gave him her business card and asked him to email us. On the drive home, I was hoping he didn’t think I was blowing him off, just wanted to get the wife sitting in the car.
They emailed a couple days later with the info. We arranged it all with the bank and drove over to their house in north Ft. Worth to test ride. (Well, *I* am test riding!) While I dd that, they invited the wife in for a glass of wine. We stayed there FOUR hours! The next day, they met us at our bank to finalize the paperwork and came over to our place for whiskey and wine. They stayed all afternoon, we drove to Light Catcher winery for some dinner (they are closing down permanently soon!) and then they invited us to Billy Bob’s for a concert. They invited us to crash in their guest room. The wife and I are good people, but outside of work don’t really interact with folks and therefore don’t have a lot of non-work-related friends. We really all hit it off. So this accident led us to a new bike and some new friends that ride. We’re already planning a Fredericksburg weekend.
Overall, I’d say we were very lucky in several ways:
- We were not around any traffic, in a residential neighborhood when she crashed.
- She was wearing (almost) all the right gear! She’s replacing the busted half-helmet with a 3/4 helmet for better protection.
- The Wind River HD folks were super helpful and took care of us. They said it totally wasn’t a problem to store the bike there until the insurance folks could come to see it and take it off their hands.
- The policemen and ambulance staff were awesome.
- The Uber driver in Lawton that brought the wife to the hotel…she was great. I think I tipped her more than the cost of the fare.
- The Comfort Suites staff really went out of their way.
- While we were checking in, a young military lady could see my wife sitting there, bloody shirt, leg in a brace…. she brought her some cold water to drink. Some people are amazing!
- The folks at Progressive insurance. The claims fellow I dealt with was really nice, kept on everything and it was just a couple of weeks before the claim was completed. They paid the loan off with the bank and sent us the difference. They also offer “accessory coverage” so we were able to replace all the things that were destroyed or lost because of the accident.
- Billy at Roll-a-Home Trailers. Not only gracious about missing our pickup but called me a week later to say he was heading to Gainesville to pick up more trailer frames, would I like for him to meet me there and grab our trailer! That’s only an hour away from Dallas. Yes, please! Spent a lot of time going over everything about the trailer with me, more than he should have had to. We probably talked for about an hour and a half. In the shade, but still outside! I can’t recommend them enough if you’re looking for a trailer you can pull with a motorcycle. (Of course, you can pull with a car, too!)
- My office mates. Helping me pick up some slack, making it possible to take care of my wife as needed.
- Finally, meeting Karen and Travis, and getting a good deal on a replacement bike for the wife. Meeting new friends with so many similarities was really worth missing the HD 115th, I have to say.
- I’ve been very proud of the wife and her willingness to go through the physical therapy, do the home exercises and build her strength back up to be at her best.
Ride safe, folks. Wear the gear. Think through what you’re doing. The inevitable crash doesn’t always have to mean the end to your riding. It’s your choice to continue if you’re able. Each person will have to choose for themselves. But choose wisely…