If you say you’ve never crashed, many people will say that you just haven’t crashed yet. Those people are assholes, but they’re also right. This past weekend, I got my number called—and I lived to tell the tale.
Sinuhe Xavier, my good friend and the main man behind The Mighty Motor, and I had just finished an amazing lunch at an amazing hole-in-the-wall torta shop in Los Angeles the size of a broom closet. After I grilled him about the new Tacoma (he just shot that Tacoma Pro video) and we discussed our next adventures, we parted ways to head home.
I made a right on Hillhurst and then another right on Los Feliz, a busy boulevard with six lanes and a center turn lane which would take me to the freeway. During certain times of the day, including the time I was riding, the outside lanes are for parking instead of driving.
Look at the picture above and note that the cars in the outside lane are skewed to the far right of the lane, because they’re parked alongside the curb.
So, instead of lanesplitting between the two lanes of moving traffic (lanes one and two), I was riding in the third lane, sharing it with the row of parked cars. While there are still risks of one of the parked cars pulling into traffic or opening a door, this is generally a safe place to ride as long as you look for people inside the cars. It’s legal too, as it’s still technically lanesplitting.
I was riding along and both lanes of traffic in my direction were stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. I slowed to around 15-20 miles per hour just in case, but had a really wide lane and felt pretty safe. Then a red Volkswagen Beetle crossed all the lanes of eastbound traffic to attempt to make a U-turn to park in the third outside lane. By the time the driver was in my lane and I saw her, I was less than a car length from her and didn’t have time to stop.
My memory of what happened there is a little foggy but, after looking at the marks on the ground, I’m pretty sure I tucked the front and hit the ground before I slid into the door of the bug. I was riding a 2015 Ducati Hyper in preparation for the launch of the new Hyper 939 which I’m attending in a few weeks, and really only remember thinking “I’m about to crash,” and then sitting there with the bike on top of me while lying next to her rear tire.
A quick overview of my limbs and nothing seemed broken, but my legs were incredibly sore and ankle was getting stiff. Since we were already in a parking lane and not blocking traffic, I shut the bike off and took a minute to sit on the curb and catch my breath.
The girl jumped out of her car to make sure I was okay, and we exchanged information and had the police come to take a report.
Sinuhe came back and said his neighbor had a truck and would come help with the bike. When Mike arrived, I noticed he was wearing a Socal Supermoto shirt and, when the first words out of his mouth were “I thought Wes was the one who crashed!” I knew I was amongst friends and finally felt safe. Interestingly enough, it was actually Mike who was with Sinuhe when he was first on the scene of that motorcycle accident up on Angeles Crest.
Introvert that I am, I was completely overwhelmed at that point and just wanted to go home. Mike and Sinuhe were taking care of the bike, nothing felt broken, and I was pretty sure I just had a lot of bed rest and Motrin in my future. Cyclenews’ Rennie Scaysbrook met me at my house with some food and a beer or three and we watched Supercross (that 450 main was incredible) and I went to be feeling like I was in the clear.
Around midnight, the real stiffness and pain set in. I woke up in a cold sweat and knew I was in trouble. Any hint of movement that affected the lower half of my body sent incredible pain through my ass and hips, and I screamed in pain as I tried to use my hands to pull my legs into a position that wouldn’t hurt.
No matter how I moved in bed, I couldn’t release the tension on my legs and I spent the rest of the night whimpering in pain while I watched infomercials through the night.
After a barrage of text messages from my mother and friends ordering me to go to the doctor, I got a buddy to take me to the ER. The X-rays were clear but, given the pain connected to any sort of movement and my inability to sit up, let alone walk, they opted to run additional tests fearing something unseen in my pelvis. The CT scans too came back clear, and I was sent home with bottles of pain killers and told to come back if it got worse.
Once home, I finally figured a position I could lie in that didn’t hurt and, with a stiff cocktail of Percocet and Friday Night Lights, I’ve been nursing myself back to health. I’d had a few articles in the queue, but apologize if not many if my contributions to the comments sections made much sense.
I still haven’t seen the state the Ducati is in, but my gear held up incredibly well. I have a small scrape on my left knee, because I wasn’t wearing moto denim, and have another on my right hip where my jacket rode up a bit. My Arai Corsair did its job beautifully and, while my recollection of the actual crash isn’t great, that’s because of the quickness with which it happened and not because of a head injury.
I was wearing my brand new Dainese Racing D1 Perforated leather jacket, which Dainese is finally offering in tall sizes (more on this soon) and my Crank & Stroker Heavy Denim Vest, neither of which have so much as a scratch on them. I was also wearing the Colfax Design Works Recon Pack, which I slid on briefly, and which also escaped completely unscathed.
The only piece of gear which really seemed to take a beating were my Racer Mickey Gloves, which have tears and scuffs all along the palms where I landed on them. I can’t express how important it is to have gloves with good armor in the palms and am convinced that I don’t have much bigger wrist issues thanks to these gloves.
While this accident wasn’t my fault, that isn’t to say that there aren’t more things I could have done to help prevent it or diminish it’s impact on my life. I’m still not sure if I think riding in this parking lane is safer than splitting between the two lanes of actual traffic, but that would have likely prevented this from happening. This is why I often talk about the importance of riding a bike with nice brakes, and I’d have been in much bigger trouble if not for the system on the Hyper.
Wearing moto pants with hip armor or going a little slower would have likely decreased the pain I’m in, but neither of those would have likely been enough to avoid the incident altogether. I won’t pull a Wes and show you pictures of my ass, but it is a nice shade of neon-highlighter-green.
The good news is that, while I’ll be a little hazy for a few days and it hurts to sit up and stare at a screen for very long today, it’s only been four days and I’m already pretty much off the drugs and walking is much less painful. It looks like nothing is broken and I’ll be back in shape to ride in a week or so. Sorry if content is a little sparse or if I’m not as funny or am slow or a tad out of it, but at least I’ll be back in full swing in plenty of time for what’s shaping up to be a very fun March.
Stay safe out there. Accidents are part of life and part of riding, so do your best to minimize the dangers and then take care of yourself when you get caught out.