After years of riding dirt bikes I bought my first street bike in 1977. It was a Yamaha RD400 C. Being a 2 cylinder 2 stroke it was all but as fast as the 750cc bikes.
Saturday, October 29, 1977. I
wanted to ride some back roads in CT and enjoy the sunny day. It was fall and a bit cool so I brought 2 Jackets
with me. I was wearing a denim jacket
and I had Elmo’s leather jacket. It was
cold riding in the shade and nice riding in the sun. For 30 minutes I debated whether I should
stop and change jackets but decided not to.
I ended up riding east on Rt. 66 (Meriden Road) heading
toward Middetown, CT. With the reservoir
on my left I was making a slow left corner going 45mph. Ahead on my right was School Street that came down
a big hill. After many accidents School Street is now a dead end
and doesn’t connect to Rt. 66 any longer.
3:30PM … As I was riding on Rt. 66, I saw a car come down the hill on School Street and stop at the stop sign. It was completely open so I could see the car from a long way off. As I got close and closer the car suddenly pulled out in front of me making a left turn. It happened so fast … no time to react …
turning without leaning doesn’t work … I thought for an instant I would miss
the back end of the car until the driver cut the corner. I hit the car right in the driver’s headlights. The driver of the car was going 10 or 15mph so combined speed
was around 60mph.
With years and years of riding in the desert of Arizona I instinctively stood up just before the impact. I remember the LOUD BANG and looking down to see the
front end of my bike passing below me. Because
I stood up I was launched up and over the car.
My boots hit my handle bars and turned them under so the mirrors
ended up pointing down. My front fork and
tire was turned and tucked under from hitting the front end of the car. I hit the top of the windshield and roof of
the car on the way over and landed on my side directly on the double yellow
lines. I don’t remember turning the handlebars
or actually hitting the windshield and top of the car. I don’t remember flying gracefully (hehe) through the
air but I do remember the impact of the landing on the road.
First pain … my finger.
I thought I broke my finger so took my gloves off to see. It was ok.
Second pain … I thought I may have broken my hip. Turns out I landed on my wallet and got hip
pointer (bruise) but not broken. Next my
helmet. Took that off. Not a scratch on it but I was glad I was wearing
it. I would never ride without one.
The driver that hit me got out of his car and came back
to me. I said “What were you doing?” his
response … “I was on my way to Florida”.
Turns out it was an 80 year old man who had just come from his son’s
house. Not sure how many times he looked
both ways but it was 3:30PM and he was
looking directly into the sun as I approached. He never saw me.
Several people, including a nurse, stopped to help and
told me not to move. Confused, the man
who hit me turned, walked to his car, and tried to drive off. My bike was hung up on the front end of his
car and someone ran after him so he didn’t go far.
Ambulance one arrived and started to take care of
me. Don’t move! Ok. Feel
any broken bones? No. Where did you get hit? I said my legs. They cut one pant leg where my shin was
bleeding. They cut the other pant leg up
to my knee. They wanted to cut my boots
off. I said no as they were new Chippewa
motorcycle boots and I wasn’t about to have them cut off. Then ambulance 2 arrived. The crews proceeded to argue about who got to
take me away and what hospital to go to.
After a few minutes of that I was on my way to a hospital.
Parents were called … on their way … my mom (who is an
RN) was a not happy. X-rays on both legs. Shins and ankles pretty messed up with
contusions and bruising. Thankfully, nothing was
broken. The next day I was so sore I couldn’t
stand up. Crutches the following few days … then
back in school … Oh the memories ...
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