Timberwoofs Motorcycle Page
Riding Without Gear is a Personal Choice.
by Jason Gundlach May 31, 2001
Riding without boots and cashing might cost you some road rash or foot mash or even in an extreme case might lead to amputation. You might never walk without a limp. You might never walk without pain. But it probably wouldnt kill you.
Riding without gloves and crashing might cost you some road rash or munched hand or the severe, excruciating pain of mangling a body part rich with nerve endings. Or you could lose a finger or two. It could cost you the ability to play ball with your son, to properly feel the gentle curve of a womans breast, or to hold a beer. But it probably wouldnt kill you.
Riding without at least an armored jacket and leather trousers or full leathers or an Aerostich or even just a leather jacket and jeans and crashing might cost you serious road rash. You might grind off a nipple. You might embed gravel in your elbow. You might get beef jerky all over your back. You might grind off your kneecap or have a scar resembling Australia on you calf like a friend of mine does. You would be scarred for life and not be able to walk on a beach shirtless without feeling self conscious. You might end up like Kevin Spaceys character in Pay It Forward and have to deal with the same awkward moment every time you remove your clothes with a new lover. But it probably wont kill you.
Riding without a back protector and crashing in all but rare crashes would be inconsequential. However, there are so many variables out therecurbs, fenders, poles, guardrails, debris in the roadany one of these could be the golden BB that nicks your spinal cord in just the wrong way and leaves you in a wheelchair for life. Or, maybe you just have constant sciatic pain in one leg. Or you cant move your legs. Or you have to wear diapers for when you shit yourself, or a colostomy bag you have to pull out of your pants leg and squeeze your waste out into the toilet at a bar like a guy I know. Or you cant move from the chest down. Or from the neck down. Are you good at working joysticks with your mouth? Or maybe you might need a respirator? Or 24 hour care? Certainly, there are impacts that are completely foreseeable that would permanently injure you even with the best back protector in the world. But there are crashes and subsequent impacts that even mediocre back protectors can make that little bit of difference inthe ones you get up and walk away from, sore all over, but walking. Do you want the last time you walked to be when you walked out of 7-Eleven with a pack of smokes and then got on your bike? Those precious few steps out the door and over to the bike to be the five steps you remember the rest of your life because the next time you were off the bike you were lying strapped to a backboard staring at the headliner of an ambulance, tears running down your face because you couldnt feel the little piggies and you were almost ready to vomit at the stench of your shit because you lost control of your bowels? Riding without a back protector and crashing might not make a difference, or it might make all the difference in the world. It might not kill you, but it might make you wish it had.
And, finally, helmets. Riding without a helmet and crashing might be of no consequence. You might never even touch terra firma with your head. Or you might give yourself an asphalt facelift. You might get a concussion that results in only a bad headache the next day. You might get a serious concussion that lands you in the hospital for endless CAT scans and MRIs, and for the rest of your days be plagued by migraines. You might fracture your orbital and lose your vision. You might fracture your skull and end up fully functional but with a horrible Frankenstein like scar and a metal plate that bothers you on cold days and sets of metal detectors in airports. You might have a closed head injury from which you dont awaken from for hours or days or weeks or monthsall the while your mother, father, sister, brother, children, workmates, and/or riding buddies come a visit you, filling an utterly depressing hospital room into a gauche jungle of flowers and bright card saying get well soon! that you never see or smell. Sure, you might awaken completely normal besides the hole drilled in your head to reduce pressure. Or you might awaken a little fuzzy, unsure who these people are. Or you might awaken and have to relearn everything it took you all your life to learn, eventually returning to normal or even better like Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry. Or you might awaken a man-child, drooling and laughing as you try to stack blocks, wearing sweat pants and a T-shirt signed by your mother, father, sister, brother, children, workmates, or riding buddieswhich you will never read. Or you might have an open head injury, from which the you you know will most likely never return. The rest of your lifebe it a day, a week, a month, a yearwill consist of feeding tubes, the endless beep and whoosh of the heart monitor and respirator, and the drip-drip or IV fluids, a catheter in your penis, and feeding tubes. Of course, you wont mind all of this. Youll be in a dream land no one knows about. Your body will waste away and atrophy. Eventually, the shell that used to be you would give out, and your loved ones would have to make the most grueling decision of their life. Or, you might die on the road, fluffy gray brain matter mixing with blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Perhaps you last ride would be twenty miles an hour down the street by your house combined with an impatient young driver and an ignored stop sign. Or perhaps it would be a ride on the freeway and a pothole denting your rim and popping the front tire off the bead sending you into the guardrail. Or you might go out in a blaze of glory with a 100 mph wheelie ending the wrong way. Whichever way, you would make maybe a 10 second news story depending on where you live, maybe a paragraph buried on page 32B of the paper. Riding without a helmet could be of no matteror it could mean the difference between going on as you are now, or having life taken away from you as if God flipped a switch.
I can live without toes or a mangled footbut I choose to try and prevent that. I can live with a hand that looks like a burn victims and maybe relearn to write with my left handbut I choose to try and prevent that. I can live with a scar in the shape of Australia on my calfbut I try and prevent that. I can live with road rash on my torso and armsbut I try to prevent that. I could live in a wheelchair, agonizing through every day, but I chose to try and prevent that.
I cant live as a man-child. Ive already played with blocks. I only drool when I sleep.
We all make choices. Gear cant always save you. All the best leather, denim, Cordura, Kevlar, fiberglass, and plastic is useless when fate throws the Immovable Object or the Irresistible Force in your path. But I choose to stack the deck in my favor. If it all ends up for naught and the stacked deck and the cards up my sleeve end up losing to Fates royal flush, so be it. But Ill try.
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