It was a long road to get here, but today I feel as though I have finally become a biker.
I spent the last 30 years as a passenger. My first ride was when I was 7 years old, on the back of my cousin's dirt bike in Bagdad, AZ. I had fun, but I never had the desire to get my own bike or anything. Sure, I had a 4 wheeler in high school, and rode with a boyfriend who had a Nighthawk and then a Hurricane, but I still didn't have the bug. Not really.
A few years ago, some friends of mine decided to get back into riding, so once they got their bikes, I often went along for the ride. Last year, one of them was planning to ride out to Sturgis and he asked me to go along. I couldn't say "no". After all, I was born in SD, but had never seen the Black Hills, or Mt. Rushmore, or anything west of Ipswitch. At the time, I had just buried my dog, and was in the process of getting a divorce. I needed an escape. So I went.
We rode for about 10 hours a day for 3 days to get there. Each day we were there, we took a ride out in a different direction. Not only did I see the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore, but I saw Devil's Tower in Wyoming, the Badlands, Deadwood and the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane, and let's not forget, all the sights there are to see at the Buffalo Chip and the town of Sturgis itself. I was hooked.
We rode out with a group of 6 other guys from one of the local fire halls, but there was a good dozen of us who made the trip out. Most of them were firemen, or paramedics. There was one undertaker, but he put his bike on the group's trailer and flew out?go figure. We all rode together on our sightseeing trips, and twice the boys pulled over to help drag a stranger's Harley back onto the road. In one case, it had to be pulled out of a creek, so the guy with the tallest boots got to wade in the shallow water.
My buddy had to get home sooner than the rest, so he and I headed out a day early on our own. We were about halfway home, in Illinois, when the rear tire blew. My buddy had set the cruise control of his Ultra Classic at around 70, and I could tell he was muscling the handlebars pretty good to stay in control. He did keep it in the center of the lane, and for a brief moment, I wasn't being tossed around from left to right, and I thought he was going to be able to slow down and everything would be fine. But that's the moment when suddenly the bike was out from under me, and I was hitting pavement.
I was aware I was sliding mostly on my side, but a little towards my back, and I didn't want to be, since my chaps don't cover my rear. I rolled a little, and then became aware of my arm as it was scraping pavement, and I rolled again. One I stopped sliding, I stood up. I was still smack dab in the middle of the lane. A trucker had stopped behind me, right on the double yellow, blocking anyone else from getting through on I-80 that day. Further up the road was my buddy, lying on the left shoulder, in the fetal position, groaning. His bike was on its side, on the right shoulder. I limped over to my groaning friend, and he yelled, "Why are you up?" I asked him, "Are you okay?" and he said, "Get off of the road!" I promptly did so, and asked him where he was hurt. He asked me why I was holding my arm. I told him I was okay, that I just banged up my hip and shoulder, but I was fine. Again, I asked him where he was hurt.
By then, the trucker had come over to my friend, too. He had long hair and a rugged denim jacket, and he looked like a guardian angel to me. I knew he was the reason I didn't get run over by someone else. He had been paying attention. He said he had already called 911, and an ambulance was on its way. My friend was still asking me how I was, and my hip and shoulder were starting to hurt more, so I turned away in case he would see it on my face. He seemed to be in good hands with the trucker tending to him.
I saw that the butt buffers we had had were laying in the middle of the road, so I walked to pick them up, more for something to do than anything else. As I reached for them, the slight pain I had in my shoulder suddenly was not so slight anymore. I picked them up, and went over to the bike, and started to take off some of the gear I had on, because it was getting rather hot. It had been raining that morning, so I still had a rain suit on over my leathers. I got that off, but I was struggling with the jacket. Just then, another couple that had stopped to help came up, and they helped me get my jacket off. It was then that my dislocated shoulder was obvious. So, I popped it back in. And that felt a whole lot better. And then I took my chaps off, but in the process, my shoulder popped out again, and that time, it felt a whole lot worse. I left my clothes with the bike, which by then had been picked up. It had never rolled or tumbled, it had just slid on its side, so the damage looked minimal.
I went over to my buddy, who by then was being tended to by paramedics, and watched them cut through my denim jacket that he had been wearing. He refused to let them cut through his leather vest, though, and with several groans and grunts they did manage to get that off him. Apparently, he had landed on his wallet that he had in his breast pocket, and so he had pains in his chest. He also had pain in his right foot, which we later decided he must have banged his foot as he was coming off the bike on the highway pegs that he had installed for my comfort. As the paramedics were wrapping up the chest and foot of my friend, he was still asking about how I was. It was then that one of the paramedics noticed me. Damn.
Next thing I know, I have a neck brace on, but only after trying to refuse it about 3 times. Then they immobilized my shoulder for the ride to the hospital?and that REALLY made it hurt! My friend was taken into X-Ray first, so once I got to the hospital, I had to lay there immobilized for a few hours, with nothing much to do but shiver from the cold, and feel my dislocated shoulder hurt more and more. I was finally taken in for X-Rays, and the first angle they wanted was for me to put my hand on my hip with my elbow out. As soon as they tried to move my arm in that direction, I discovered what real pain felt like. I said, "Stop, just tell me where you want my arm to be, and I will get it there." As I slowly moved my elbow out and into position, I felt my shoulder pop back into place, and the pain subside. I just laid there, relaxing, letting them take their pictures. I moved my arm in all the positions they wanted without a problem. I felt so much better.
Not long after that, they came in and told me they didn't see anything wrong on the X-Rays. I wasn't surprised. Then they said my friend was asking for me, so I could go across the hall to see him. I stood up, and fell right back down onto the gurney. Apparently, the hours of being immobilized were not good for my hip, and I could no longer support my own weight. They got a wheelchair for me, and sent me across the hall. By this time, my friend had stopped asking me how I was, since they had already told him I was fine. So then he started apologizing. Profusely. At first I told him he shouldn't be sorry?after a while I told him he should. At least he was smiling and laughing.
It was then I learned that my friend was to be flown to another hospital in Peoria because they had a trauma center, and were better equipped to deal with the possibility that my friend and lacerated a kidney. I on the other hand, was to be discharged with a pair of crutches into, as the ambulance driver referred to it, "po-dunk Spring Valley, Illinois". This did not make my friend happy. No sirree. He refused to go anywhere, unless I could stay with him. As it happened, due to a thunderstorm, the helicopter wasn't going to fly, anyway. So, we went to Peoria via ambulance, and they did let me ride along?in front?with a seat belt.
We got to Peoria, and I was offered another wheelchair, which I accepted gratefully. The nurses there were very nice, and they kept me close to my buddy, so I got to watch the parade of doctors that I think just wanted to see the victims of a motorcycle accident. Each one that stopped by seemed very disappointed that we were both sitting up and making jokes. My friend asked me, "will I ever get you on the bike again?" I told him, "Next time, I will be driving."
That night, he was admitted for observation, and the nice nurses there fixed me up with a chair to sleep in next to him. They even gave me gauze and bacitracin so I could bandage my scraped up arm. It was freezing cold in that hospital, too, and I was really wishing I hadn't left all my clothes with the bike, which was now an hour's drive north of us, locked up in a garage that wasn't going to be open the next day. I fell asleep dreaming about getting my own license, and my own bike. Around 2am, a nurse woke me up to say we had visitors. 2 of the guys we were with in Sturgis had gotten word, and stopped by on their way back with the trailer to check in on us. One of them asked me if I needed anything, and I told him I was freezing in my tank top, and could use a long sleeved shirt. He pulled off his sweatshirt and handed it to me. I love that guy! I then told him my buddy was going to need clothes to leave the hospital in, too, and he said one of the bigger guys riding out would be there the next day, and he should have some to loan us.
The next day we did get a visit from the guys we had ridden out with. They showed up just in time. I had been trying all morning to rent a truck so we could go get the bike and haul it home, but it was Sunday, and everything was closed. And my cell phone battery was dying, and the charger was in the bike. I was so frustrated, I was ready to scream. The guys swooped in, dropped off clothes, made us laugh our hineys off, and within minutes found a U-haul guy that was willing to open up his office that afternoon, after a kid's ball game. They made sure a hospital would get us a t