I had a day off today so I took myself, the silver fox (my 750 Honda shadow spirit) and my camera to Harewood House where I spent the morning taking photographs. By midday I’d shot around one hundred frames and figured that lunch was overdue. I packed my gear back onto the bike and headed for home.
With the bike safely tucked up in the garage I was putting the various photographic paraphernalia away, when the phone rang.
“Dad” it was my son Daniel, he was in turmoil, his voice betraying a mix of emotions, anguish, anger, and disbelief. “Can you come and get me, I’m on the Wetherby Road near the school, and I’ve come off my bike…”
My mind was reeling; he’s experienced and has ridden all around the country, “Are you OK?” I asked, so many questions came to mind, how could this have happened? Why? “Yeah, but my knees are a bit messed up and the bike…” “Never mind the bike, so long as you’re OK, that’s all that matters”.
In a blur I grabbed my car keys and was out the door. Wetherby Road near the school he’d said. How far? Were any cars involved who was there to help him? Panic started to set in but I knew that it wouldn’t help. I called him on the ‘hands-free’ “I’m nearly there now, is there anyone else with you?” “Yeah, some workmen, they are putting in speed bumps along here, they helped me get the bike off the road”. A moment later I was in sight of him, he looked shaken and stood awkwardly favouring his right leg. I parked the car and ran over to him. A workman in yellow hi-viz was standing with him, others were busy with their work. Dan was shaking. “I was riding down here and had to go through the contra-flow, not sure what happened, but next thing I know the bike is on the floor and I was crawling to the pavement.” The workman confirmed what Dan had said, “Looks like his bike slipped on that manhole cover and his side stand clipped that speed bump, good thing he had that first aid kit, we’ve bandaged his knees as best we could” The skid mark and the gouged tarmac of the bump were clearly visible.
His bike, once a pristine Yamaha Majesty 400, stood near a wall, its left hand side a maze of scratches, the front mudguard cracked and broken and various other bits of damage were clear to see. The main stand was twisted into the bodywork but ironically the side stand was still functional.
I thanked the workmen for their help and walked Dan to the car. Once inside his feelings exploded in a mixture of emotions, tears welled from anger and pain. I called for a recovery truck and took him home to change, as blood was visible on his trousers and then on to hospital. His right knee had taken the worst of the impact and it was a bloody mess, and the left one was little better. But the doctors at St James’ A&E were great, they checked him over and confirmed no broken bones, just a few cuts and bruises so we headed home cleaned patched and strapped.
That evening it all hit me, how could I let this happen. I felt cold inside, my stomach knotted and I felt sick. Why did I ever let him have that bike, I should have insisted he learned to drive instead. It could have been much worse, he should have been more careful, if only he’d gone a different way… if only… if… if… if…
His mother of course was beside herself with worry when I called her; I could hear the tears in her voice. A mother’s instinct I suppose. Though relieved that the worst hadn’t happened I still got the expected tirade of bike abuse, she doesn’t like bikes at all, nothing would ever convince her otherwise, and that dislike was now only magnified.
But my perspective is different I suppose, I see it from Dan’s point of view because I ride too. I know that the possibility of road rash is always there just waiting to catch you the moment your attention is distracted or concentration lapses for just a moment. Even though I knew this, for days after my confidence was shaken, I saw my resolve to ride whenever I could diminish and I found reason after reason to take the car instead. I suppose seeing your son laid on a hospital trolley can have that effect but it’s been about four weeks now, Dan is on the mend but still on crutches, the internal bruising to bone and cartilage will take a few more weeks to heal and the bike will soon be back in one piece.
I’m riding again and I don’t feel as though the tarmac is out to get me any more – It’s good to be back in the saddle. Dan is keen to be on the road too, seems the young bounce back more quickly.
If we live by ‘but what if?’ then we will never achieve anything, we will never enjoy an experience or adventure. We would not be the people we are and we would never leave the house.