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One more lap

 

  I think it was at Rocky Ridge, in oh, '86 maybe, that I myself, tested the laws of physics on a ( the ) CR500 on that back straightaway. With catastrophic results !

  Darrin, my ridin' buddy, and I, had done about four laps that day. It was the practice Saturday, before the season opener that year. He was ridin' in the 250 expert class, & I in the over thirty amateur class.

  We always had this 'thing' about who was faster. I had the faster bike, and more experience, but he was ( and don't ever say I said this ) a slightly better rider. I say that only 'cause he had no fear of anything. Or respect for pain !

  I don't care about all that though, he's had the helicopter ride & I haven't !

  They had made a road with a 'grater' or 'dozer', or something, that crossed the long straight in the back, and left a ridge of dirt along both sides of the road. Me & Darrin were the only ones, that I know of, that were using this little ridge ( maybe a foot & a half tall & a foot wide ) to jump to the other side of the road. 'Course, it was flat, & the ridges on each side were small & sharp, so ya had to make it all the way to the other side of the road, & still be high enough to clear the little ridge of 'dozer droppings' on the other side. If not...well you know. At that speed, in those rocks... It'd be a bad day.

  In four laps we never missed it, nailed it perfect every time. Hit it at about sixty-five or seventy miles an hour, weight forward, hold the throttle wide open, & boom ! It'd launch ya up, only a foot or two, but at sixty five mph it would allow you to clear the other side, & not loose any speed, while you're buddies hit the brakes, & slowed for it. It was like runnin' into a curb at that speed.

  Very exciting. Very exciting indeed !

  Well, it was gettin on toward dark this afternoon, & we were gettin ready to go home to get a good night's sleep for tomorrows race, when Darrin said, "hey man, let's do one more!"

  "Naw" I said, " I'm kinda beat, & it's gettin' late..."

 Then he looked me straight in the eye, & said "man, you aint gotta hair on yer ass, if you don't take another lap with me ! "

 Well ...what would you do?

 What I did was stupid. "eh, alright, lemme get some more gas in this pig, & we'll dance! ."

 I gotta admit, it was kinda neat. Most of the other riders had left the track for the nite, & there wasn't too much dust, - or too many obstacles, in the form of, how shall I say, ...more cautious riders.

 Darrin, & I roosted away. He'd get ahead in the trees, & I'd get ahead in the rough, & fast stuff. We wheelied, we laughed, we banged bars in the corners, we yelled at one another. We really had a blast that last lap.

 In the tight, rocky, tree section, just before the long back straight, Darrin, & his little CR250, squirted past, as usual. In my defense, I gotta say that Darrin was 13 years my junior, & the CR500 was always a handful in the trees, especially with lots of loose rocks layin' about. ( excuse #234 I'm old. My bike is heavy, & over powered for the loose stuff.)

 But I was not about to let that youngster get past me for long.

 Knowing that the long straight was coming up, I screwed on the gas even harder than the last four times, as we exited the last corner prior to "the hi-way", a right hander.

 In order to make the pass, I first had to get out of the CR250s 'blast cone' ( roost area ). So I let the mighty CR500 slip out wide, comin' outta the turn, in third, 'on the pipe', front wheel about 6 inches off the ground. Man what a ride !! Black dirt, & gravel shootin' out in a deadly spray, front wheel aloft, & on up into fifth gear ! I figured I'd make the most dramatic pass possible, & spike 'im right over the road jump. As I approached the jump ( bump ) I realized that I was quite a bit farther over to the left than I had been going, as Darrin had the 'good' right hand line. Then I realized something else, everything was moving in slow motion...oh no. You know what that means!

  Yes indeed !  Just about fifteen yards before I hit the first dirt ridge of the road jump, I got involved in the braking bumps formed by the more cautious riders. First the back end went wide to the left, but I held the gas wide open. An instant later, the rear tire struck the ground, just to the left of my left hand grip. "I got it!" I remember thinking. Then an instant later, I could just barely see the rear fender, now,on my right. "I can save it !" I thought, still hard on the gas, & over the front end!

It was at that instant that the front wheel, & back wheel hit the jump ramp...at the same time, at sixty miles an hour. The front heading into it, the rear, exactly perpendicular to it!

Let's put it this way, from my vantage point, pie-eyed, somewhere over the front fender, I could see both tires at the same time!

Ya know those wrecks of the Indy cars, where it's so violent that you can't even make out the car? Just a tumbling mass of smoke, dust, & spraying parts? The one they show on videos like " AND THEY WALKED AWAY" ? That's what I looked like. Like the opening scene of 'The Six Million Dollar Man' "...I can't hold it ! She's breakin' up ! "

A mid air high-side at sixty. I think most of you know what that ground looks like up on the ridge. Nasty.

That was the longest wreck I've ever had. It lasted a long, long, time. And it was all in slo-mo. I felt my gloves tear. The knees of my pants. I heard the loud snap when my collarbone broke. But still I went rolling , tumbling, cartwheeling. Me and the Honda. It hit me a few times, I remember thinking that it had turned off, cause I couldn't hear it any more. But I could hear the gravel, & rocks clatter, & scrape as I came to a stop. I was on my hands & knees. I tried to look up to see if Darrin had stopped. The collarbone moved. I got sick.

I sat there for a moment, & realized that Darrin hadn't seen it, & was still racin' me, a mile ahead. And I was alone on the track. Within moments the sound of his scooter faded away, & all was quiet.

The Honda 500 lay about thirty yards off the trail, in a barbed wire fence. Upside down, leaking fuel. I hadn't put too much in it for this, " the last" lap. And I knew if I was gonna get back, I had to get over to it, get it upright, & worst of all things...start it. And the fuel was leaking out.

With a broken bone of any kind I'm sure any movement is painful. But trying to get up, pick up the bike & start it brought more than one tear to the eye on that day, I can tell ya. It seems that the left collarbone, had broken completely in two, & was making it's way through the skin with each movement I made, be it my toe, or my eyebrow.

Once I had gotten the crumpled Honda upright, I could only sit & try to rest for a few minutes, I knew I could only kick it once, & it was gonna hurt. And I knew it wasn't gonna start.

You can bet I was feelin' pretty sorry for myself at this moment, pitiful in fact. My head was spinnin', everything hurt, & my helmet stank.

I got the kickstart lever up to the top, & rested again, fearing the violent pain I would have to endure in order to kick the 500 hard enough, to even have a chance of it startin'.

Then I just did it. All at once I jumped up in the air, screamed, & let fly the hardest kick I could muster. I saw the white light. It was tough. I've had a broken bone before but nuthin had ever tried to come through the skin. Woe was me.

But it was enough. It started. I looked down at the clutch lever knowing I had to reach out & squeeze it, & my helmet hit the broken bone, again I saw the white light. It almost knocked me off the bike. I wouldn't look next time that's for damned sure.

The Honda sat there & idled as if nothing had happened. So I rested again. Where was Darrin?

Anyway, I managed to lean way forward, & squeeze the clutch just long enough to get into second gear, & take off at a speed just above idle. The slightest bump felt like the surface of the moon.

I met Darrin, about halfway back to the pits, & he escorted me into the medics area, where they put me in a sling. I took a hundred Aspirin. Darrin loaded both bikes, & took me home to Carole, by way of the bumpiest roads on earth.

By the time I got home, I was actually feeling better, & was able to walk relatively normally.

Off to the doctor we went, in silence. Carole knows not to say anything in a situation such as this.

And the doc set the bone, & I had to wear a funny brace on my back & shoulders for a while...you know the one. I had to sleep in a chair for a few days.

I didn't know it at the time but I had also broken a rib, I found that out later that week when I sneezed once !

What do ya think about when you're 'down'? My friends, that's what. The uninjured ones. On Sunday, Darrin was out racin' with all my other friends. I was at home in the Lazy-boy, it was quiet. It was misery. I missed the action. I missed the excitement. The noise.

At about two o'clock on Sunday, I figured my class was startin' about now. I called to Carole, & asked her to bring me a in mirror...why? So I could count the hairs on my ass!!

Patman

 


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