Monday, July 28, 2008

Nobody is exempt...

You have to know that when I sit here, ranting and railing against human stupidity and it's inevitable consequences, I don't hold myself to be above these very same rules and laws. At no point in my life, have I ever deemed myself to be exempt from the reach of "Ma Nature".

So last Sunday, 20 July 2008, I had decided to take a little trip along the Parkway and into town. I had spent the previous Saturday changing Baby's oil and filter, in preparation for Monday's ride in to see my Mom with my eldest daughter. Some quality father/daughter time... Reaching the end of Dorima, I pondered briefly. Left or right? Right, out to the farmlands of Cumberland? Or left onto Innes, down Jeanne d'Arc, etc...

A trip downtown won out and I tipped the bike to the left... I suppose my fate was pretty much sealed from that moment on. As I was trundling along St.Joseph, heading towards Youville, I was in the outside lane. Approaching the intersection, I noted a car in our left-turning lane. There was also a small black four-door sedan in the oncoming left-hand turning lane. I doubted that he could see me, though due to my height advantage, I knew he was there. He had not yet showed any sign of movement, as I was drawing nearer to the intersection. My eyes were rivetted on him... All of a sudden, he began his turn... right the fuck in front of me! It was Daytona Beach, February 1997 all over again... I attempted to slow the bike while veering to the right, not always the best of plans.

I have drilled myself over and over again to respond correctly to such instances, yet apparently I applied too much front brake. In the space of a heartbeat, the front end folded under and we were in a slide. The car which had begun entering the intersection had stopped and fortunately we slid by him. I noted afterwards that he had conveniently backed his vehicle up, by the time the police had arrived at the scene.

I never lost consciousness during the slide, but at that speed (70-80kmh) your brain doesn't really register everything accurately. I can remember letting go at one point and seeing Baby travelling down the road, 'sans rider'. What a horrible feeling in the pit of one's stomach that produces. When I finally came to a halt, I took a couple of seconds to assess how I felt. What I could move, what hurt, what I couldn't move... My left arm was dangling there, in my peripheral vision. I could not feel or move it. I heard someone tell me not to move. I grinned: "Yeah... I'm gonna stay out in the middle of the road... Not!!" My shoulder was just a big bunch of pain. My legs worked enough to get me up, so I hauled myself up and scooted to the median which provides a staging point for pedestrians who are crossing the street. The very first thing I wanted to do, was to remove myself from the flow of traffic. Having reached it, I collapsed, my back supported by a light stanchion.

I saw a black vehicle stop, blocking Baby from the rest of the traffic. She was resting on her left-hand side, thank God... Someone approached and knelt beside me, advising me that they had called 911. I can't recall if the police or fire teams arrived first. The Constable I wound up talking to was Dave. As the Fire Department (Fireman Larry... a fellow rider) took steps to assess the damage and stabilize my condition, Dave was questioning me as to what had gone down. I remember a woman hovering on the periphery, shoulder-length grayish blonde hair, mid-forties maybe, wearing a blue and white doo rag. I figured her for a fellow rider and was subsequently proven right. With the help of another bystander, she had managed to get Baby up off the road and back on her sidestand. I will be forever grateful to her... For as much as my own wounds hurt me at the time, it pained me far worse to see her lying there.

I recall at one point providing directions to someone, on where to find my phone and I then had them dial my better half's number at work. This was one of those calls you should always preface with: "Now...don't freak out, but...". So I let her know what all had happened and that I'd be in touch when I knew where they were taking me. I was being bombarded with questions, finally the EMS crew arrived on scene, led by Rob. We rehashed the accident timeline so he could establish my state of mind and consciousness, checked me over, cut off my gloves and part of what was left of my Oklahoma t-shirt... Next thing I knew, I spied the familar profile of our car. I advised Fireman Larry that the XO was inbound to the scene. He went to meet her and escorted her to where I was sitting, giving her a sitrep enroute.

She leaned over me and sighed... not that sigh that you get when you've done something she disapproves of for the twentieth time, but that sigh which is reserved as a kind of unspoken 'thank you'... like when you get home and discover that you did remember to turn off the iron... or that your spouse still has all his limbs. I tried to sound casual as I chirped: "Hi, Hon... how ya doin'?" I wasn't foolin' either one of us. There was just too much pain there. She noted the absence of a riding jacket but was considerate enough to save that for a later date. I don't really recall what we discussed as we waited for them to cart me off to the Ottawa General, but I can tell you that we took some comfort in simply listening to the sound of one another's voice...

I had been caught doing the stupid and had paid the price. I had survived what could have been a much more severe event and from the reports I was receiving, so had Baby. Oh, there would be some comeuppance to pay as a reminder... there was no doubt of that. But for the time being, I had an experienced female rider who was volunteering to take Baby home with her, until such a time as we could collect her. I thanked this fellow rider for her offer and took her up on it. I would later discover her name was Julie Durocher. It was time to go. Rob packed me up into the meat wagon and we headed South down Youville, towards the 174.

As I listened to the thin wail of the ambulance's siren from within the box, I remarked: "Someone's not having a good day...". The attendant looked at me quizzically. "Oh, it's just something my wife and me will say to one another, when we hear a siren outside...". "And this time, it's you...", he nodded. I thought for a second on this before replying: "Well actually... all things considered, it hasn't been all that bad...".

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