diary of a rider: Don't give up (part III)

June 3, 2008 | Riding Hungry

For all the MSF was a bad experience, I do remember a few things from the in-class session. Things like, “Pay attention to how you feel before you ride. If you’re hungry, tired, angry – take a few minutes to a half hour to resolve the problem before getting on your bike.”

Obviously, this isn’t always possible in Real Life, where we have deadlines and time frames and places to be. Even if you subscribe to my personal view of time, which is such: Being on time shows respect and is always to be strived for. However, if you think you’re going to be late – stop and call. Let them know. If you think you can’t make it – reschedule. Nothing is final except death.

Basically, what that boils down to is that if it’s possible to arrive on time, do so. Obviously. However, if unforeseen circumstances arise, or even foreseen but unprepared for circumstances – don’t stress over it. It’s not life or death. Simply call and update them on the time or reschedule. It’s not that big a deal. If you don’t subscribe to this idea, you’re probably a very stressed out person.

Well, yesterday my husband and I had an appointment in Lacey. We decided to leave early and ride up. Since I’ve ridden to Lacey before, we knew I could handle the route – or at least, we thought we knew that. Two problems. One, I was really, incredibly hungry. I was actually hungry an hour before I left, but I didn’t eat. Two, I was kind of cold. My jacket vents were open, and although I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, it was colder than I anticipated.

Why didn’t I eat? Because I’m stupid and stubborn is about what it boils down to. Logically, I know that the way I’m set up, I should eat when I feel those first pangs of hunger. My body tells me to eat at natural intervals – every 2 to 3 hours, a light snack. Not this 3-meal a day thing that’s so unhealthy. Still, even knowing this, I often find myself thinking things like, “You’ve already eaten 3 times today, you can’t seriously be going to eat again, you fatass.” So I will ignore my body’s cues in an attempt to control my hunger and my weight, which never, ever works. And when I do this, I get jittery, irritable, and very easily distracted.

This is the state I headed out on the ride on. About halfway there, John pulled over and yelled at me for not even going the speed limit, then yelled at me some more when I didn’t know the correct direction to pull back onto the road. Add what raised voices does on top of my already jittery, nervous state – it’s a wonder I didn’t wreck. I did take the opportunity to zip up my jacket vents, though.

What actually happened is I was so incredibly pissed off that he yelled at me (because I thought we had an unspoken agreement to Never Yell at Laura When She’s Riding) that I, uh, accidentally popped a wheelie as I took off.

Kinda fun. I should learn to do that on purpose.

Anyway, we reached our appointment fine. Then when we left, an hour later, it was raining. Other than at 5-10 mph during my MSF course, I have not yet ridden in the rain. Neither have I ridden on the freeway for any substantial amount of time, but we decided to slab it home. So there I am, shooting down the freeway at 75 - 80 mph (speed of traffic) with the rain misting over my helmet and turning the asphalt into a glistening grey strip, and all I can think is, “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die – this is AWESOME!!!”

Not awesome that I would die. Just riding a motorcycle is awesome, and even in those first-time experience mind-numbingly terrifying adrenaline rush moments, it’s awesome. Anyway, I made it home safe, and now am processing the lessons I learned. Mainly, eat before I head out. And always pack a sweatshirt.

June 12, 2008 | First accident

So. I was in a motorcycle accident about 1:30 today. I don’t remember much; I’m mildly concussed. This is what I remember, in order:

I was approaching an intersection with stop signs, no lights on a one way street – the white van had the stop, I had no stop signs. I was going the speed limit or slightly below (I think it’s 35 mph on that road, I was going 30 indicated, but my speedo’s a little off, so it may have been around 25 mph). As I approached the intersection, the white van started to pull out and I applied my front and back brakes in the quick stop recommended by the MSF and semi-taught to me in class.

Since I haven’t much practiced quick stops, that stopped me, all right. It just stopped me by dumping my bike. I hit face first and slid a few feet, and the next thing I remember is opening my eyes and staring down at the ground. I couldn’t move for the life of me; my entire body felt weighted down and heavier than I ever remember.

I turned my head the slightest bit and looked from the corners of my eye to see if the white van was still there, but I couldn’t see it. I heard voices shouting, and then someone was turning me over. I wanted to sit up, to prove to myself that I could do it, but my head was so heavy and my arms wouldn’t move. So I just lay there on the ground with my hands on my stomach, staring at the sky.

The people who helped me were, I think, fire medics. I believe I heard them say something to each other about what district they were in. I kinda wanted to yell at one of them, because he was behind my right shoulder, and I thought for some reason that he was the van driver, because he was supporting me from that direction. I didn’t, though, because I had nothing to bear out that suspicion, and he was helping me.

I don’t remember much of that part, just that my head and arms felt like lead, and that I finally understood the phrase, “dazed and confused”.

I asked how my bike was, and they told me they were moving it out of the road. I remember being vaguely worried about that, because my key was obviously still in it. Obviously, I’m not a very trusting individual. When the ambulance arrived, they helped me up and walked me towards it. Someone asked me how I felt, and I said, “Like my pants are unzipped.” They responded, “That’s because they are.”

How embarrassing.

In the ambulance, they asked me the days date, the day of the week, my name, and my birthdate. I answered them all correctly, though I kinda guessed on the days date. I’m not very good with dates anyway. The police arrived, and at this point I started to feel frustrated and worried. I was pissed off at being looked at in the ambulance, (and this is stupid) because I’m always pissed off at being looked at by medics. They’re pretty damned expensive, and I honestly don’t feel that any of the injuries I’ve had that have been looked at by medics warranted it. Plus it was a hospital ambulance (white), not a medic truck from the Fire Department (red). The hospital ambulances are crazy expensive, like $1,000 for a 5-minute ride. Worth it if I'm dying, not so much for a concussion.

I can see how a head injury would warrant a medic, and I can see how I probably underestimate my own situation and worth, but still. I can’t help how I felt. Logically, I knew I had no reason to be pissed off, and should be grateful. I was still pissed.

The worry was because I know how much it costs to be looked at by hospital medics, and I was trying to do the math (with a concussion) and see if we could afford it. Additionally, my son needed to be picked up at school in a bit, and I was pretty sure I’d have a hard time walking, let alone driving.

The cops asked a little about the accident, but didn’t give me a case number or anything. I was told the white van had left after the ambulance arrived and as the cops drove up, and no-one had gotten a name or a license plate.

After the medics gave me some oxygen and declared me okay, the police walked me over to my bike. It wouldn’t start at first, I think the engine was flooded. The cop turned on the choke and tried it a few times, and it finally started. I rode the two blocks to my house, the cop following me to make sure I made it okay, and parked. Then I texted my husband.

The right fairing and right turn signal are kind of crunched up and in pieces. My right tailpipe has a dent. Other than that, the bike seems in okay condition. When they told me they were taking my bike off the road, I’d asked, “How is it, is it okay?”

Someone, I think the woman who came up first, said, “It looks fine, it’s a Kawi. It’ll be all right.”

While I waited for my husband to arrive, I called the school and told them we’d be late picking up my son. Then I just kind of sat there, zoning in and out until J got home 40 minutes later. It did occur to me at one point that I might have done the quick stop incorrectly by applying both front and back brake, so I called a friend who’s ridden for over a year with no accidents to verify.

Apparently, that is how a quick stop is done; I just didn’t have much control over it. He suggested that I practice my quick stops so I can avoid another experience like this. My elbow is killing me, my cheekbone is bruised, and I’m really flipping pissed off because I don’t get to ride this Sunday, which is supposed to be gorgeous. Not unless I fix my turn signal and fairing and get a new helmet, all within the next 3 days.

Stupid van.

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