All the Gear All the Time
By Michael Stock
ATGATT - it's a great acronym. We see it frequently in motojournals and email list digests, and as serious riders we should take it seriously. But, it's summer; it's too hot or humid; it's just a short ride. WRONG!
As I write this, it is now four weeks after my crash. I'm writing this to share my enthusiasm for riding prepared and my newly reinforced respect for the laws of physics. I was riding on a Saturday morning on a typical two-lane back road headed south towards Troy, NC. It was 11:00 AM. A deer came out into the road from my immediate side, instantly ran into my front wheel and locked up the bike. I am constantly scanning the field of vision ahead of me, into the trees hoping to have some warning of animals that might try to share the road with me. There was no warning or advance glimpse of this deer; it was just suddenly there.
The front wheel locked up; I was traveling at about 45 mph. I continued forward (physics) through the windscreen and went airborne. I certainly hit parts of the fairing and handlebars with my legs. Landed on my left arm and shoulder and rolled a little more, stretching my muscles in my legs much further than I ever did when "warming up."
Let's get to the heart of this story. I was wearing stiff leather boots with a shaft that came just below my knees; reinforced jeans with armor inserts at the knees; a perforated leather jacket with armor in the sleeves, shoulders and back; textiles MX type gloves with soft armor over the knuckles; and a good fitting full-face helmet. I fractured my shoulder from the impact, but nothing tore up my skin. I had a few very small abrasions where the force of the impact pushed my gear and clothing against my skin. No cuts, no stitches. Think about it... struck a deer, flew through the windscreen, and landed hard on the ground - I walked out of Montgomery County Hospital a few hours later.
Let's respect physics. I had no appreciation how hard you get banged up until you start to see (and feel) the results. Some bruising was immediate. Some bruises didn't appear for several days and my lower legs took nearly a week before they became discolored and tender. Four weeks later, I still have pulled muscles, and I just started to rehab my shoulder. But I'm happy to report that I am back on a bike, and yesterday I picked up another R1100RT to replace my '96 RT which was totaled.
So consider this; it doesn't have to be a deer. You could be surprised by a dog, a child, a tree limb, some piece of anything from the bed of a pickup, or a bad pothole. What looks like water could really be anti-freeze or oil. Pity those poor souls riding in T-shirts or tank tops. It all happens incredibly fast and you can't do anything about it - unless you prepare for the crash before you get on the bike.