Survival instinct

The Reaper: Not yet buddy boy, not just yet
The Reaper: Not yet buddy boy, not just yet

An outpouring of support and expressions of relief descended on our lives following my close call Wednesday when a pickup truck sideswiped my motorcycle on Meadow Creek Road (Pig Path) between Riner and Radford.

Dozens of emails and comments on Facebook warmed both Amy’s and my hearts.  All are very appreciated.  Many friends, casual acquaintances and folks we haven’t met before have come up in restaurants, sporting events and on the street to offer their expressions of relief that I walked away from the accident that resulted in just bruises and slight damage to my Harley-Davidson.

And nearly everyone followed up with two questions:

  1. “How did you and the bike not go down?”
  2. “How did you walk away from a collision between a Chevy Silverado and a motorcycle?”

I could try laughing it off by saying something smug like “superior riding skill,” but the truth is it was more blind luck than anything else.

Friends and readers have suggested divine intervention, which I’m sure played a strong role.  I believe everyone has a time to die and Wednesday, May 16 at 12:05 p.m. just wasn’t my time.

I’ve replayed those brief, jarring seconds over many times and also believe a number of factors came into play that prevented both my motorcycle going down and me ending up in the hospital or on a coroner’s slab.

Those factors include:

  1. The only part of the bike that actually came into contact with the pickup was the clutch lever on the left-hand side of the Harley.  It made initial contact with the truck at the leading edge of the Silverado’s left-front fender and left a three-foot long gouge in the paint and bodywork.  The impact pushed the clutch lever back against my left hand, mashing three fingers hard enough to leave deep bruises and embed some of the leather from those gloves into the back of the lever but the few inches of give in the lever were enough to avoid wrenching the handlebars from my hands and sending the bike down;
  2. When my left shoulder and the left side of my helmet crashed into the truck’s drivers side mirror, the “breakaway” mirror folded in towards the truck, cushioning the blow and providing just enough “give” to avoid knocking me off the bike.  The force of the impact shattered the covering of the mirror;
  3. I was wearing a leather riding jacket with body armor in the shoulders and a leather vest underneath the jacket.  Both cushioned the impact enough to avoid breaking a shoulder that has been broken too often in the past;
  4. My helmet was a full model with protection on the sides of my face and a face shield. That prevented the mirror from literally ripping off the side of my face.  It also cushioned the blow and prevented any head trauma.  The helmet did its job and will be retired with honors;
  5. Finally, the fact that I was riding a motorcycle and not driving a much wider and less maneuverable car most likely saved my life.  If I had been in my Jeep Wrangler, I could not have swerved enough to avoid a head-on collision.  The result would have been two cars, moving at 45-50 miles per hour, crashing head-on into each other for a combined impact speed of 90 to 100 mph.  The Wrangler would have come out on the losing end of a headlong crash into a much larger, heavier Chevy Silverado pickup.

Many factors saved my life that day and the bottom line is that somebody upstairs was watching out for me and decided it’s not my time to come home just yet.

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