Risk Management Magazine

Search for Articles

Addicted to that Rush

Addicted to that Rush

It was a cool October morning and I had recently returned from a nine-month stint in Iraq. Before I deployed, I sold my truck in hopes to buying a new one when I got back to the states. I hadn’t had the opportunity to go car shopping yet and needed a means of transportation to and from work. Luckily, my father, who lived in Las Vegas, had the time and was willing to tow my 1998 Honda Shadow 1200 to me in Jacksonville, North Carolina, until I could find my dream truck.

My dad spent a week with me in North Carolina and, although I had my motorcycle, most of the time I just opted to ride with him. I must admit that it was a little nerve-racking to ride in a car after returning from Iraq. As any combat veteran who consistently went outside the wire will tell you, every pothole or pile of trash on the side of the road in Iraq was a threat. When you return home, it’s your natural instinct to think the same.  

It had been more than nine months since I’d driven a privately owned vehicle. I was used to driving fully armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which are relatively slow and extremely hard to see out of while operating. Once I did get back behind the wheel, though, I found driving around North Carolina lacked excitement. For reasons I can’t explain, I started having withdrawals from the adrenaline rush I was so used to while driving in Iraq. I figured the perfect way to get that rush was to hop on my motorcycle.

Riding a motorcycle gave me an incredible sense of freedom and excitement. The wind, the ability to go just about anywhere and the looks I got while riding gave me a feeling I cannot describe. You just have to ride to understand the fun of it all. The speed, acceleration and agility provided the adrenaline rush I craved. As I got more comfortable on my bike, I started pushing the limits, but I always got away clean. I felt invincible. After all, I survived combat. Nothing could hurt me, could it?

One afternoon while bored, I decided to take my motorcycle into town to go shopping. I grabbed my gear, laced up my boots and headed outside. To my surprise, there was a slight drizzle in the air, just enough to pepper vehicles with tiny droplets of water but not soak the road. Against my better judgment and everything I had learned in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic and Advanced RiderCourses, I decided to head out anyway.

I was traveling on Lejeune Boulevard, about two miles outside the main gate, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a nice Dodge Ram SRT 12. I took my eyes off the road for what only seemed like a second — but in reality was probably several more — when I heard the sound of screeching tires. I looked back to the road and noticed the cars ahead were all slowing down, so I applied my brakes. Unfortunately, the drizzle and oil had made the roadway very slick. To make matters worse, I’d failed to replace the brake pads after I got my bike out of storage, which, coupled with the road conditions, meant I wasn’t stopping as quickly as I’d hoped.

I had two decisions — swerve to the left and go into oncoming traffic or lay down the bike and hope to get out alive. I opted for the latter. As I laid down the bike, I kicked it away from me. I slid 30 feet and became wedged underneath a car. Because I had on my PPE, I only suffered road rash on my arm from my left wrist to my elbow. My bike wasn’t so lucky, though, and cost me more than $4,000 to repair. The one bright spot was I didn’t hit anyone or receive a ticket.

There are many factors that led to this mishap, which could have been prevented had I been more careful. First of all, I should have been paying attention to the road ahead instead of eyeing that Dodge Ram. Second, I knew my brakes needed replacing after being in storage for so long, but I never got around to doing it. Third, I should have been more patient and waited for the drizzling to stop before riding. Finally, I was riding entirely to fast on a surface I knew would be slippery when wet.

Today, I am a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach. I make it a point to share the details of my accident with each class in hopes that no other rider makes the same mistakes. I want it to be an example of what not to do. Of course, I still love to ride; however, nowadays I always follow what I was taught and ride safe!

  • 1 August 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10685
  • Comments: 0