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Crash Wisdom from an Experienced Rider!

This is not a sob story although it starts out kind of like one.

Weeks ago I was at my clubs International Old Timers Motocross annual race at the Hangtown National track. This was my first race back from major surgery at the end of last year. My plan was simple take it easy and I started out that way by letting everyone go on my starting gate. I waited until they had all gone through the first corner before I took off, so far so good. I started catching and passing riders on my row, I felt good and was riding well. While going up a long uphill section I noticed going down the downhill was a rider in my class I couldn’t believe I had caught up to him, I never beat him. Then at the bottom of the long downhill just before an obstacle called the Ant Hill I see this same rider just on the other side of the anthill and was thinking wow I caught up to him very fast.  I think I can pass him before the end of the race. Well that small loss of focus allowed me to go up and over the anthill way to fast and when I landed on the other side I shot sideways off the track. I hit a bank on another part of the track. For an instant I thought, I’m not going fast so this should not be too bad. Wrong, I was shocked just how hard I hit I did not expect that. I hit so hard on my right side the shock from it caused most of the injuries to happen on my left side. Two fractured ribs and a collapsed lung on the right side, but on the left side I suffered five broken ribs, one of them in two places and it caused a punctured lung. Not only that my heart was knocked out of rhythm it was going from say 75 to 175 then back down to 90 and back up to 160 and so on. After five days in the ICU I went home to recover which is what I’m doing now.

All of this started me thinking that this could have been much worse had I not been wearing all the protective gear I put on before each ride. The helmets I use are all fairly new and are the latest in head injury technology; I wear a chest protector that has spinal protection and cups for my shoulders. I wear a neck brace and all the other gear we would consider the minimum to go riding. The new neck braces offer so much more freedom of movement and comfort. I’m not really aware I’m wearing one anymore.    

I broke my chest protector I hate to think how my shoulder would have fared without that protection. If I hit my head it didn’t bother me the new helmets are amazing you can have a good wrap on the head and not feel it. So why am I saying all of this…who cares? Well I do for one I want as much protection as I can reasonably wear. I believe my neck brace saved me from at the very least a sore neck in this incident. 

I see lots of riders young and old who don’t wear any protection other than what is considered the minimum. I’ve always wondered why, why wouldn’t you want to give yourself the best possible chance to survive a crash and as we all know it’s a matter of when not if.

The usual story is it makes me feel uncomfortable or I just don’t like it, no one says that about a helmet or boots. Well we may all complain about them from time to time but would we even consider not wearing them.

When you start getting older recovering from any injury takes a little longer, you would think the older riders at least would think about that. But I’m sure most or all of this is this is how I’ve always done it.

The young riders who don’t wear extra protection, especially the young pro riders who set an example for other young riders bothers me. Why wouldn’t a parent want their kids wearing as much protection as possible? But when you have the top pro motocrossers not wearing extra protection it makes it more difficult for a parent to insist their kids wear the extra protection. There are a few of the top riders who do wear neck braces.

I recently watched a long interview with Jimmy Button, for us older riders we all know who Jimmy Button is. As most of you know he suffered a spinal injury that took him years to recover from and he still has lots of issues he deals with every day. He started a foundation call “The Road to Recovery” for injured riders. The foundation deals with lots of spinal cord injured rider’s mostly young riders. I was shocked at the number of young riders they help every year who suffered spinal injuries some are now dealing with some form of paralysis. Maybe just maybe some of those injuries could have been prevented by simply wearing a neck brace.


Just some food for thought from an old rider who just got the shit beat out of him.


Doug 21J

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