It would have been the highest number of Grand Tour targets I would have amassed in the three years I had entered. But two weeks back, on Wednesday August 17th at arounf 4:00 PM local time, I went for a couple of Lake names that were accessible by only horrible roads, and one caught me unprepared.
Was on my way back to Midland Michigan, going south on Saskatchewan 20, heading for Middle Lake (about 40 miles East North-East of Saskatoon) when the road surface changed from patched pavement to broken up pavement and deep gravel. Nothing too much of a concern for a farmer's pickup truck, but for a Suzuki 650 V-Strom loaded with 150 lbs of stuff covering a two-week stay at the in-laws in Edmonton, I knew I was in trouble.
Immediately pulled in the clutch and rolled off the throttle. Stayed off the front and may have put some rear brake on. Struggled for many seconds to find grip and in slowing and wiggling side to side I moved to the left and appeared to have hi-sided off the road when I hit the left ditch. Proabably was unconscious for 5-8 minutes.
A coupe of local Saskatchewan farmers found me when driving north on the road. They didn't see me go down, just noticed a red object on the edge of the ditch. Investigating they called out and I responded. Got to my feet and the three of us righted the bike. After a couple of minutes we fired up the Wee-Strom.
We agreed to go to the closest of their farms to check out and make any necessary repairs. The windsheld was broken but nothing a roll of Duct Tape could remedy. I climbed on, feeling sore, and rode it the three kilometers. After parking it I decided to sit down and that's when adrenaline ended and shock took over. Nearest hospital was 20 minutes away on the same cursed roads, so I took the offer to be driven there.
Good thing. Had all my gear on (Full-Face modular Nolan helmet, Cortech GX-Air 2 Mesh + Leather Jacket, Full-Finger Gloves, Draggin Jeans with knee pads, shin-height motorcycle boots) but I still fracured my left collar bone, six left side ribs (#3-8), my left fibula near the knee, and sprained my left ankle. My right side was remarkably unscathed except for a shin scrape. A CT Scan showed no spinal injury.
Spent the next four days in the ER and Orthopedic wards of Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital. Fractured ribs is the worst pain I have ever had. I only hurt when I went from lying down to sitting, less to to stand, and going back to lying had equal knives of pain. Could feel "clinks" where bones moved that shouldn't. My most favorite piece of hospital equipment was the urinal jug that allowed me to forgo getting out of bet to pee. I would have paid hundreds of dollars for one if they asked for it -- thankfully they loaded it free of charge.
My wife's family in Edmonton rescued me and hauled my unworthy self back to Edmonton. It is now Day 16 after the crash. Most of the bones seem to be gluing back together and the pain is easily managed with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I will be flying back to Midland with family on Labor Day.
I hope to retrieve the bike with a road trip in November. My "good Simaritan" firends (Ben Mayer & Gord Ironside) who found me in that Saskatchewan ditch say there's no problem hanging on to the bike 'til my return. Fantastic that people help strangers like that.
I hope to submit my pictures before the deadline. Had great ambitions to place well, but will have to try again another year. Still have 4-6 weeks of bone knitting and exercise before I'm okay again.
I am lucky things turned out for me the way they did. Easy to believe I could have become the Noelle Ansley of 2011. My circumstances were not much different from what I read about her fatal crash.
It is often said but valuble to remember to be careful out there. We tend to take a lot for granted.
I learned that after 500 km that day, I did not notice the surface transition. The rural road didn't have it marked, but I was on unfamiliar roads and didn't pay the level of attention needed. GPS equpment doesn't know/care about the type of road, only that one is there. A paper map is a better gauge of road type, but I didn't notice how thin the line was in comparison to the better maintained/used ones. Only the locals know what the roads are really like.
Not 30 minutes before the crash I made the wrong choice -- I did consider skipping the bad roads for those more frequently traveled.
We rarely know the right decisions, but we sure know the wrong ones.
Take care, and thanks for what the GLMC does to advance this sport of Motocycling. Glad to still be a part.