This WILL Kill You!

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Be aware of your machine. I’d arranged a camping trip with a friend from school. It was a remote island near Boca Grande FL, he had a boat and I had wheels. I was 15, and this was an adventure. I’d scored some beer and had it in my backpack. On my trusted MR-50, I was hunched over going about 60mph cutting through the wind. I watched the speedometer slowly edge up, I had the machine going full blast. It was glorious. My backpack flapped in the wind, it’s straps singing as they danced from the force. I was tired and impatient. I didn’t realize, at first, what had pulled on my back, and then I was on the road contemplating Kennedy and dinner for a while.

First off, I had a helmet on. Always did back then. I slid, and slid, and slid. The backpack had busted open, and cans of beer hung just out of reach during the long slide. I’d have grabbed one, and consumed it, but they were elusive little bastards. One of them, just to tease me, busted open and sprayed it’s frothy goodness as it spun ahead of me. I hummed the theme to Easy Rider, as I waited for the long desired “stop”. Finally, after a long, long time, it came.

A Charlotte county deputy – far in the distance – approached from the opposite direction. He’d watched the action. He was more shook up than the beer, and hurriedly helped me up – and even collected my beer for me! That county was decent back then. It seems that those straps on my backpack, the ones whipping in the wind, well one of them got caught in the drive chain. The road rash was bleeding pretty good, but it wouldn’t hurt until I got back home. I managed to remove the strap from the sprocket and my baby was operational again. I went home, leaving my pride and the adventure behind.

Road rash sucks. The first thing one must do to treat it is clean it. Sand and pebbles get embedded in and under your skin, so you must use a stiff brush and remove them. Completely. If you are spared pain on the scene, you aren’t spared the discomfort at home. After brushing out the wound, you must disinfect. Then, of course, a tetanus booster may be wise. It takes many weeks of amazing pain to return to a point of normal mobility. Knees and elbows are used for even the most mundane of tasks, and the 18 square inches of skin on each of them become remarkably unforgiving to injury. It’s surprising how much one’s resistance to pain can also grow due the incremental damage sustained.

I’ve had tires pop, wheel bearings and engines seize, even lost my brakes once or twice. These things will happen. You cannot possibly prevent every possibility from occurring, but pay attention to your machine and keep it serviced. She will take care of you – if you take care of her. Lastly, for God’s sake, don’t let straps or loose clothing hang down, especially from something firmly attached to you.


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