Since I still have trouble with low-speed turns — I take about a half-mile diameter to do a U-turn — and I wobble when navigating at very low speeds, I signed up for a one-on-one class to work on that. As an excuse to go for a ride, I decided to reconnaissance the parking lot which will be used for training. I rolled down the entry driveway, rode across the parking lot to the other side, and began to go up the exit drive at the end. Catch was, I couldn’t see oncoming traffic to pull out, unless I pulled up to the crest of the drive. I saw my opening, started to pull out, and felt myself tipping over to the right. OH NO! I couldn’t find footing, and once past the tipping point, I was doomed to hit the ground. I was SO embarrassed. I took a couple of breaths, hit the kill switch, pushed the stand down, and positioned myself on the right side of the bike in an attempt to right it. I could get it started, but it seemed to catch on some bevel, and I could not force it past the catch to get it upright. Two separate guys, both in red pickup trucks, stopped and helped me right it. I cranked up, got back into position — and fell over AGAIN. This time, I think I bounced. My left calf began hollering. They helped me back up again, soothed me by saying it was a bit steep. One of the guys rolled the bike backward so I could get a running start, and the other watched traffic for me. When he waved, I pulled up out of the drive and onto the main road.
I was mortified, and I could tell that my leg was going to hurt for days. It was burning, I was a bit shaky and embarrassed, and the air was suddenly much hotter than it had been before the incident.
I caught every single light on the way home. The hills seemed steeper, the lights longer, the pavement slicker. I felt stupid and clumsy. I mentally lectured myself to not replay the incident, to just concentrate on the ride.
When I pulled into my garage, I peeled off my helmet, gloves and jacket, then took a look at the damage. The breakaway brake lever had done its job (mental note: buy a gross), the bar-end was scraped and the muffler had a little abrasion. I apologized to the bike, and thanked the frame sliders. The right turn signal rattled; I took off the lens and repositioned the seemingly pointless little metal guard inside and it was inexplicably quiet again.
I shucked my jeans and looked at my legs. Odd that I fell to the right, yet the left leg had taken the worse beating. I guess I stabbed it with the foot peg, then bounced and hit it again. The skin was barely broken, protected by my thick jeans. But the burning pain was inside my leg. So I wrapped it in an ice pack and sat glumly in the living room, my leg propped up on the ottoman.
The next day, I had to fly out on business. Each night, I filled a Ziploc bag with ice and had a Tylenol 3 for dessert. On the third day of the trip, I stood most of the day to deliver a seminar. I could feel my left leg getting stiffer and larger and wondered if I’d just wear that shoe for a few days, or cut it off. When I first put the foot down after keeping it elevated on breaks, it was rousingly painful, and it felt like some sort of corrosive sludge was slowly flowing down the inside of my calf. Good grief.
I thought when I got home Thursday night, iced it, and got a good night’s sleep, the worst would be over. But when I awoke Friday, it hurt even worse. A friend encouraged me to go to the emergency room to get it checked out. Long story short, apparently I bruise quite easily and floridly (although, luckily, no blood clots), and it’s bruised all the way through. As internal blood seeps down, my ankle swells and turns colorful shades of red and purple. And somehow it’s become infected. So I’m tossing down antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers, living on the couch and cursing my lack of balance. I think it’s sort of a fluke — the other leg looks just about as bad, but I don’t even notice it.
Looking back, I’m sure that it was throttle timidity that caused it. If I’d had enough momentum, enough gyroscopic stability, I’d have been fine. But with no momentum, I couldn’t balance. Since then, I give a decent twist to the throttle, and there’s been no hint of this happening again. Yes, I look back and feel stupid, but now I can take off on a hill fearlessly. I hold the brake lever with my index and middle finger, start to roll the throttle with my ring finger, pinky and thumb, gradually releasing the brake as the throttle takes hold. It sounds harder than it is. I’ve tried using my right foot on the brake, but I do lose my balance. The “busy fingers” approach works for me. Once I shift into 2nd, I change my grip back to normal.