This is a post is about the importance of riding with protective clothing. Admittedly, this is not a sexy subject but I hope you drink it in because - for me - it’s the difference between having a left leg and not after a low-speed dance with a shitbox on a short Woolies run, one evening after work.
This post comes straight from a bed in Flinders Hospital, South Australia. Xav asked me to share my story after he read my original post on the Sydney Cafe Racers Facebook page. There, I wrote an honest account of my accident and paid tribute to Saint Unbreakable Jeans because they saved my left leg from being shredded; “if you were wearing what you [just told me you] usually wear that clutch lever would have ripped your leg off no doubt,” my doctor told me. First, let me put this into context. I am a father to two two-year-old, twin girls and my wife was 37 weeks pregnant at the time. She asked me to get some milk for the girls’ breakfast in the morning because I forgot to pick it up on the way home from work. An evening burn is always welcome.
The car came from a notorious intersection – notorious for the confusion it causes motorists not up on the rules of the road – which ran out and pushed me towards the curb. It didn’t see me. How could it? I was dressed in all my ultra-cool riding gear after one of my daughters wiped her lunch over my jeans and they found their way into the laundry. I suited up: the black leather jacket, dark [Saint Unbreakable] jeans, new [Saint Unbreakable] gloves, black boots and comfy and warm black full-face lid on my brat-style 1984 z250. I was practically invisible; isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing!?
The car appeared from this intersection and ran up the outside of me, when three lanes merged into two she merged without seeing me on the inside. Rather than go under the car I made a decision to drop the bike and take the slide. It’s probably something they should teach you in a motorcycle test sometime, but they don’t. The bike did as it was supposed to but the clutch lever poked a hole in my leg popped out and then worked a trench through my calf before re-entering at my ankle. It didn’t hurt because the slipped disc in my back was all I could feel. Indeed, my leg is still numb to touch. I’ve spent two stints in hospital. The first was for the slipped disc. I slipped L5/S1, which is a lumber disc, which rendered me paralysed for five days. The ambo patched me up at home (yes, I walked home after the accident) but didn’t admit myself to the hospital until the following day due to the circumstance. I spent five days laid up and drugged up. Once released the local GP became concerned over my scaring and once they removed the scar tissue [de-braided] they found a large haematoma which was infected. I was sent for an emergency skin graph and spent another four days bed-ridden in the hospital. I can only be thankful I’ve still got a leg.
“Dress for the slide, not for the ride” one Facebook comment spelled out on my initial post. Absolutely true, and so it proved. The bike’s chopped form, my boots, and jeans prevented the engine; specifically the clutch lever, from crushing and shredding my leg to pieces. I must admit, I don’t usually wear all my protective clothing as most of my riding is short distance and it’s so hot down here. Now, I certainly won’t be making any excuses for not wearing protective gear. Hospitals suck and pissing in a bottle for five days watching shit movies is no way to spend your time when your wife is about to give birth to a beautiful baby boy.
Ride safe Saint community and be sure to suit up.
James (and Snowy)