I Am A Lucky Man, or How I Wrecked My Bike Today

Just yesterday I posted this to Facebook:

Here’s a link to the article itself. The gist of that article is that lucky people see opportunity in just about everything and when things go badly for them, they are more likely to contemplate how much worse it could be…

Today, I wrecked my bike. This alone makes me very sad, as it was my first motorcycle, my dream bike, that I’ve had since 1999. It was, is? whatever, a 1989 Honda Hawk with about 25K miles on them, 20K were mine. About 5 months ago, some dude backed over it while it was parked and took off without leaving a note. I spent a few months getting it rebuilt and just look at this thing:

Does that look like a 23 year old bike? I loved this bike. I knew it’s every quirk. I trusted it. It had (has?) a name: Marcus. And today Marcus probably drove his last mile.

Ok, the Wreck

I was at the light at Masonic and Fell. The light turned green and I started down the road in the center lane. There were a half dozen cars waiting to turn left, just like in this image from google maps:

As I passed this line of cars, one of them near the back decided they didn’t really want to make that turn and just spun the wheel and gunned it without looking. It wasn’t so much that she turned in front of me and more that she turned directly into me. I had zero notice. Suddenly, she was sticking out into my lane and I had no time to react. I basically glanced off the doors and careened off to the right. The bike slid out from under me and I went down with it. It has more mass and left me behind, sliding maybe 50 feet total. I on the other hand ended up crumpled on my side, sliding along the road until my helmet hit that right curb and I came to a stop.

I just laid there. My wits were a bit gone and I had to let them reassemble themselves. I thought about my bike for a minute, and then I thought about Becca at home with Madeline, not 3 blocks away.

An Odd Premenition

Here’s the odd thing. That morning, I woke up and got ready for work. I looked out at the weather and it was a little ominous. It had rained overnight and the road was wet. I thought about it and decided to put on all my bike gear. Normally I just throw on my armored leather jacket and my helmet, but the bottom half of me is just jeans and my regular shoes; not even boots. But this morning I pulled out the armored pants that go on over my jeans and my boots. As I suited up Becca gave me a look. I never wear all this stuff just to go downtown to work. “Maybe it’s just because I haven’t been commuting like this in a while but the last couple of days I’ve had people drift into my lane or cut on front of me while they text on their phones… It’s kinda rainy out… <shrug>” Becca just nodded, agreeing that I should wear the gear (and probably quietly wondering why the hell I don’t always wear it). “It would be pretty crappy if I had to take care of you and Madeline.”

So less than ten minutes later I’m laying crumpled up against the curb in a small, sad puddle, contemplating the phone call I’m going to have to make. Then suddenly there are people running up to me. “Are you ok?” “Should I call an ambulance?” “OMG are you ok???”

I try to roll over onto my back. That hurts. I groan and someone calls an ambulance. I try again and end up still in a crumpled wreck, but now laying on my back on top of my shoulder bag with my computer and stuff in it. Looking down at me was a young woman about 25 years old. She’s the person who hit me. She’s desperate for me to answer her. I tell her, “I think so.” And she bursts into tears. “Oh my god… I’ve had the most terrible week. I just lost my job. I was on my way right now to the DMV [4 blocks away] to get my driver’s license…” She sobs. She doesn’t have a drivers license.

And then I find myself in the most odd situation imaginable. I reach out and take her hand in both of mine. Patting it with my leather, armored gauntlets, telling her that it is all ok. I’m consoling her. I’m literally a wreck, and I’m comforting her. I find myself feeling so very, very sorry for her. “I’m ok. Nothing feels broken. I’m not bleeding. It could be so much worse.”

Then the ambulance and the cops and the fire trucks show up. My helmet and jacket and gloves come off slowly. I end up strapped to a board. As they pick me up, the other driver sees me again and bursts into a new round of tears. “I’m OK!” I yell, waving a hand. I can’t turn my head to the side to see her.

In the back of the ambulance, I remember the article I posted just the day before. Here I am feeling sorry for this other woman who’s day just got terrible – no license! All while I’m strapped to a board on the way to the hospital. I don’t feel ok; I’m banged up. But I know I’m fine. And all I can think about, with my bike torn to crap and I’m strapped to a board… and I’m such a lucky, lucky guy.

At the hospital I end up getting cat scans and x-rays (get this, my x-ray technicians were Oscar, and Mike… that cracked me the hell up). When I arrived I was Mr. Popular – lots of excitement. But then they figured out that I wasn’t hurt and I found myself at the end of a hallway on a gurney and ignored for many, many hours. I showed up before 10am and they immediately offered me morphine. I said, um, no. But they didn’t give me a ibuprofin for the achey-bruised pain until 2pm. I had a neck brace for 4 hours. In the end, I walked out, got in the car w/ Becca and went home.

My bike is probably destroyed. All my gear is torn up – including my laptop. But I’m ok, I’m home, and I’m counting my blessings.

The only other rub is that I have a week’s trip to Tahoe for snowboarding starting Saturday. Hopefully I’ll be up for it…

Update (3.01.12)

Went and saw my bike today at the impound lot. There’s hope. It’s dinged up pretty bad, but it looked salvageable to me. The tank had a ding, the front fender a few scratches, both foot pegs are damaged (the left one is gone entirely), the right handlebar and mirror is all messed up, and both turn signals are scratched all to hell. Still, it’s way more than I could have hoped for. Maybe $2500-3000 of damage? The problem will be that the insurance company will argue it’s totaled because anytime this bike has ANY damage they say that…

Leave a Reply