Ridin' Around with John Boettcher


RIDING AROUND - and Falling down


I had planned to attend Ken Hand's Italy, Texas event this October. Ken had me scheduled to give a wash and wax seminar! Ha ha, joke! 


I left work that Friday afternoon and was planning to ride a couple hundred miles down to my friends, Jay and Teresa's house in Knoxville, near Galesburg, Illinois. I was traveling on US Highways 34 and 6 and came to where US 34 splits off just west of Sheffield. I started to make a simple left turn and slid out instantly in some antifreeze that was all over the road. I landed hard on my left shoulder, slid on my back a bit, and ended up face down staring at the pavement. I was a little stunned by how unusually quick the bike slid out and got to see what just happened. It was then and there I knew something was really wrong with my left shoulder. I couldn't push up with my left arm so I rolled and got up feeling some very intense pain between my shoulder and neck. The bike was laying on its side and appeared to be relatively fine.


Two high school girls pulled over and asked if they should call 911 which I said no, that I thought I was okay even though I knew I had broken or dislocated something. I asked if they could just help me get the bike back up which they did, and we had the T-3 sitting on the shoulder of the highway. I thanked them and they went on their way.


I walked over and saw the antifreeze on the road and some broken plastic bits so I figured there was an accident there earlier. I picked up my fiberglass lower that popped the cable ties off and put it in my ammo can hardbag. I got on the bike and sat there a bit trying to decide what to do. I used my right hand to place my left hand on the handlebar and it didn't feel too bad once firmly on the bar. I could even squeeze the clutch in. Okay, 150 miles from home and 50 miles from Jay's in Knoxville. I opted for Knoxville. It was slow going at first, every bump would jar my shoulder making me wince a bit. The small towns on Highway US 34 weren't any easier. I finally made it to Galesburg, and knew I only had about 6 miles to go. Well, Galesburg was all torn up with road construction and all one lane through the heart of town. It was slow going and very painful. I finally got through the mess only to be greeted by a railroad crossing and the longest freight train in the world! Well, it seemed that long. After that, I pulled in at Jay's place. He was out feeding the horses and looked over.


He knew immediately something was up and helped me off the bike. I explained what had happened as we tried to take off my jacket, sweatshirt, etc. Layers of clothes are nice until something like this happens. Once down to my T-shirt, Jay drove me over to the emergency room in Galesburg.


It took a bit to do paperwork and the nurse took me to a room. Ten minutes later she wanted to know exactly where the crash happened, and I asked how that was relevant to me getting treatment. She left and 45 minutes had gone by before the state trooper showed up. Geez, now what? I still hadn't been seen by a doctor. He asked what happened and I explained. He asked if there were any other vehicles involved and I said no. He then asked about any property damage, whether I was drinking or on drugs and it was no, no and no. He handed back my license and asked why the hell he was even here. I looked at the nurse and pointed to her, and he smiled.


A little later the doc showed up and ordered x-rays. Sure enough, I broke my clavicle. Right in the middle and a couple of small pieces. He recommended a sling, prescribed some pain pills and said it would take about 8 weeks to heal.


Jay had offered to load the bike up in his truck and haul me back, but he couldn't do it until Sunday morning. Well, Saturday morning came and I really didn't want to wait until Sunday plus admit defeat, so I told him I was going to try and ride the bike home. He thought I was nuts and asked if he should at least ride my bike to the freeway entrance so I wouldn't have to deal with town traffic. I said okay and that's what we did. The 200 mile ride home went rather smoothly and I kept plenty of distance with traffic because I knew I wouldn't be able to react as usual. The busted collar bone actually seemed to hurt less when holding on to the handlebars than when walking around.


Sunday I should of just stayed home and healed, but since I missed the Italy run and I knew the Slimey Crud run was going on up near Madison, Wisconsin, I just had to gear up and ride to it. A group usually meets in Pine Bluff and then rides up to Leland, Wisconsin where the main gathering is. I ran into Rick Mahnke (aka Cheesehead of MG Cycle) and Georgia. They were riding the Eldo/sidecar rig. I decided to follow them over to Leland figuring he'd be taking it a bit easier than some of the others that showed up. We had a nice ride, and I hobbled around a bit looking at all the bikes that had showed up. I saw a lot of familiar faces like Gordon Kline (MG Cycle) and his wife Chris, Dan Prunske and Peter Egan, just to name a few. I had a great sandwich at Sprecher's Tap and an all around good time. The ride back brought it up to about a 300 mile day, but it didn't do the broken clavicle any good.


Monday I saw my own doctor and he sent me to a specialist that put me up in a harness of sorts. The specialist was a little upset when I asked if I'd still be able to reach the handlebars with it on. I then said, well how am I suppose to ride the darn bike home? He just shook his head. The harness did work quite well, it was much easier to ride with it on. I'm writing this about 7 weeks since it happened and got the all clear yesterday. I'm glad that's over with!


Updated 06-22-02

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Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com