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Deer, motorcycles and Demerol...


Todd_Z1

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...or, 3.5 seconds of my life.

 

Date: May 1st 2006

Time: Between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m.

Place: Highway 191 (Old Comanche Trail) in Eastern Arizona just 8 to 12 miles South of Hannigans Meadow.

 

Prelude: I had just finished a nice weekend visit in Tucson

with my lifelong best friend. I left Monday morning from Tucson, by myself, and was on my way to Springerville AZ, Torrey UT and then on to Lake Tahoe to visit with and ride with another friend. I was riding a BMW K1200S with a little over 4000 miles on it.

 

Experience: I have 80,000 miles of riding experience since 2000 and have been to the CA CHP sponsored Motorcycle Safety Course. I have also attended the Keith Code California Superbike School twice. I routinely practice

emergency stops and maneuvering, but none of this mattered...not one bit!

 

Gear: I always wear and was wearing fully armored and padded leathers from head to toe and a full-face helmet.

 

My Story:

 

3.5 Seconds to impact.

 

What a beautiful day! What an incredible road! What fantastic scenery! My life could not be better! These thoughts filled my headas I carved and flowed through the twists and turns of H191. A truck appeared in front of me, in my lane, just before entering a left/right chicane. A quick downshift, I easily slip past the truck with a quick

flick to the left, and another to the right. The truck disappears behind me while the road ahead straightens out. And so did we, the bike and I, accelerating. I smiled as I slid back onto the center of the saddle...

 

1 second before impact.

 

...that was so smooth I thought. Nothing crazy, not too fast, just a smooth, precise, quick series of turns. To my right, as if captured in one frame of a three frame short movie, a brown blur...GRAB THE BRAKES AS HARD AS YOU CAN!

 

.9 seconds before impact.

 

My right hand instinctively starts to reach for the brake lever, I am calm.

 

.7 seconds before impact.

 

Another frame of this unfolding saga slides by. For some reason it is eerily empty. The calmness prevails? ? ?

 

.5 seconds before impact.

 

The third and final frame of this short film snaps into view. It is filled with the imagery of two deer which somehow materialize a few feet in front of me. They are running from right to left. The fingertips of my right hand reach the front brake lever. Too late!

 

0.0 seconds...

 

The short film concludes with a sickening impact. Time pauses, the clock holds it breathe. The handlebar slams into my left hand with the force of a Barry Bonds home run, shattering my thumb. One of the deer flies off the road and dies. The K12S stoically reacts to this un-requested command. The bike, grimly obeying the laws

of physics, catapults into the pavement on its right side and slides down the road towards its destiny of being totaled. Simultaneously, I fly off the bike at a right angle like a human lawn dart. "This is your captain speaking, you are rapidly descending through two feet to an inevitable impact with mother earth. Please brace for impact!" I can faintly hear the sickening crunch of disintegrating plastic and grinding of metal. The asphalt rushes up to greet me, unyielding, dispassionate, irresolute and...WHAM! My right shoulder takes the blow as if from Thors Hammer. Nine ribs separate themselves from my spine and one sneaks it way inside my right lung. My shoulder blade breaks cleanly in half like the neck of a chicken being prepared for dinner. The world spins out of control as indistinguishable objects randomly flash by the opening of my visor in a tumbling blur of disorder. My arms

flail about like a rag doll. I roll up onto my knees and start the last ten feet of my journey sliding along with my butt sticking up in the air as if in defiance, my

face firmly planted into the ground in meek submission. I come to a stop, staring at the dirt a mere two inches from my eyeballs, my lungs devoid of air...I can't breath.

My knees let me know they are not happy about the newly missing skin. Inevitable thoughts of doom fill my head "I am going to die here, all alone in the middle of nowhere." BREATH! "Wait, there is a truck behind me." "BE CALM. BREATH, JUST BREATH!" Involuntarily, I flop onto my left side. "BREATH!" Two teaspoons of air rush into my

left lung. "BREATH!" I exhale and a full cup of air rushes into my left lung. "That is not enough air!" "BREATH!" Sh*t! This is hard to do with broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

 

The clock and I exhale.

My lungs fill up with air, my right lung re-inflates and the clock resumes. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. I hear a mans voice, "Are you ok?" I manage a weak "No" and taste blood in the back of my throat, this can't be good. "Listen, there is nothing I can do for you. I can't move you and I don't have cell phone coverage here. I'm going to drive into the next town and call 911." Who am I to disagree so off he goes. "Sh*t, I am going to die here all alone." once again fills my head. Minutes flash by with astonishing slowness. I hear a car stop, then a woman's voice "Are you all right?" It is an Irish couple on vacation. Words are exchanged, she helps me remove my helmet, jacket and gloves then gives me water. All bad things to do but I am over heating, about to pass out. 30 to 45 minutes pass by, I hear the ambulance

coming...suddenly there are people all around "Tell me where it hurts."..."I'm going to start an IV." "We have to put you on a backboard with a back brace, It's going to hurt." It's all spiked by PAIN! The DPS officer asks me what happened, somehow I wheeze out an answer. I hear the distance sound of a helicopter and the ambulance takes me all of two miles to meet it. 30 minutes later I am in the emergency room, different people keep asking me "Does this hurt?" Yes to all! ! ! X-rays confirm the damage. My parents show up and they are as surprised as my own disbelief that I am in the hospital. Someone cleans my knees and sprays them with medical adhesive, great stuff.

 

Finally, after what seems an eternity, I am wheeled to the ICU. The nurse comes in and asks me if I would like some Demerol. "YES, ALL YOU HAVE! ! !" He laughs. "It is going

to burn..." he says "..but I watered it down with saline and I'll try to push it slowly." It burns and sears through my veins like igniting butane. The tears start to come, it is simply one pain too many to ask my body to bear...The seconds seem like hours as the Demerol flames turn into a warmth that spreads through my body like a warm blanket.

The pain fades into the distance and euphoria takes it place. The world spins out from under me and I pass into darkness.

 

Epilogue: There was no way I could have avoided this accident. I never saw the deer until they were right in front of me at about six feet. I believe they were standing

by the right side the road, frozen and unmoving until I was nearly adjacent to them. They were back dropped and camouflaged by an embankment of dirt and rock that matched

the color of their fur perfectly. The emergency care I received at the Navapache hospital was excellent, I have never had better treatment. My riding gear, jacket,

pants, helmet and gloves, were completely destroyed. My leather pants did not fit properly as they were about an inch or two short. This caused the protected knee cups to

ride up over my knees and the thinner leather ground through. Based on an examination of my riding gear and the amount of leather that was ground off, I have come to the conclusion that had I not been wearing it I would be missing most of the skin and probably some muscle

from my right arm. I am positive that my right shoulder, which was the initial point of impact, would have been ground down into the bone or worse. I don't know how fast I was going but I estimate between 30 to 50 miles per hour. I was riding conservatively and alertly at about 60 to 70 percent of my skill level. I was being mindful of the fact

that I was alone on a remote, lightly traveled road that I was unfamiliar with. I never lost consciousness and I can remember every detail of what happened.

 

Highway 191 used to be numbered Route 666.

 

I intend to get a new bike and ride H191 both directions with a friend and finish the ride.

 

Todd

 

"I will bend like the reed in the wind,

but I will not break."

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Firefight911

Wow!!!!! Now that is one heck of a detailed event!

 

Very sorry for your misfortunate encounter with Bambi!!!

 

Get better and get that ride with a friend going. I am sure that you will find many friends to join you here.

 

Get better soon! And keep us posted on how it goes!

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Dances_With_Wiener_Dogs

Wow. That's nasty stuff. I'm glad you're able to tell us about it a mere month later. I don't know that road (only have heard about it from you and others) but understand that it's pretty technical. We're you going around a curve at the time of the impact? I wonder if that contributed to the force and your injuries? Left-handed curve, impact from the right, flying farther due to the high-side?

 

Regardless, be glad that you didn't go flying off of a cliff and are here writing this to us. Heal well friend.

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Fooookin dammmmmm. You just described what I fear on every ride that takes me out of the city to wards the mountains and beyond. I am always looking for deer but I never see any. And I read the stories all the time. Is deer control on any government list of things to do? Is deer control even considered a problem by anybody else other then motorcyclists?

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Holy MOLY, Todd! blush.gif

 

 

I hate those kinds of ride tales... I used to dodge whitetails when I lived in Illinois, but was always lucky - one, a big buck, actually JUMPED OVER ME on West River Road early one morning. True; one of his hooves put a small ding in the very top edge of my windshield! I never did thank him properly for that effort; it would have been as messy as your meeting.

 

 

I too am stoked you can recount your tale, and thanks for the creativity you added to the telling. One thing tho, I do believe you need to adjust the verbage in your sig line, Bro!

 

"I will bend like the reed in the wind,

but I will not break."

 

 

Take good care, and let us know when you are out shopping for that new K12S. thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

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I am always looking for deer but I never see any. And I read the stories all the time.

I've had a couple of somewhat close encounters on my moto and those little bastards (around here it's mule deer) never pause before they cross the road. They simply trot right across, vehicles be damned. pist.gif

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Todd,

So sorry to hear about your crash, I'm glad you are alive to tell us about it. Hope you get healthy soon, and a brand new 2007 K1200S.

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Todd,

Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to so well describe such a painful experience. I'm sure all of us can identify with the way time seems to slow in these situations and many minute details are burned into memory. The thing that gets me is how little I manage to do while I am like a bystander observing the impending disaster so slowly unfolding.

As it happened, I was on my bike on the very same road as you about 5 days later, heading from Clifton to Springerville. I did spot a few deer a ways back from the road, but stupidly wicked it up every time I could and now am afraid I would be in a box if it were me who had the deer encounter. I'm not sure I would have really understood how stupid I had been unless you posted this experience, so thank you.

God Speed and get well. I sure wish I could join you for your next go at it.

Take care,

Dave

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The deadliest animal in North America- White Tail Deer. They are all over here; I see them every morning and evening in my yard as well as half of my rides. Your tale makes me a little more on edge. I'd hate to hit one at triple digits if that is what happened at 30 to 50 mph! Get well soon and many fun safe rides! Anyone want to go deer hunting?

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One heck of a write-up.

Sorry to read about your too close encounter. Glad you survived. Hope you can quickly heal and make that return ride. (It's important! BTDT!)

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Wow! I said once before avoiding deer strikes while riding in deer country is like avoiding lightening strikes while riding in a thunderstorm...

 

Thanks for the story..Wishing you a full and complete recovery.. thumbsup.gif

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That was an excellent and very engaging write-up... I’m very sorry to hear it was a non-fiction piece. I know where you are coming from, I’ve been hit 3 times by deer (and a few more times in cars). Unfortunately, I live in an area where twisty roads = heavily forested roads.

 

I’ve been riding for 30 years, mostly spirited technical twisty backroad riding, and deer population explosion CLICKY has me seriously contemplating hanging up my leathers. I’m comfortable and confident with all of my street riding strategies and only blame myself if I have a close call.... except for when it comes to deer. This risk still feels like a pure road lottery (with the odds worsening every year), and there’s little I can do to mitigate it, short of riding so slow, or so straight, that it’s not even worth riding at all.

 

My only real deer risk mitigation strategy - staying off the backroads in anything less that broad daylight - may not be effective as I thought, given your own experience. It’s gotten to the point where I actually enjoy riding in the winter, more than I do in the warm weather, only because I have half a chance at spotting the dumb forest kamikazes coming with the foliage down, and perhaps against the contrast of the white snow. Ice, sand, cold tires... piece of cake, at least I can predict these risks.

 

Glad you survived and get well soon.

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I am absolutely amazed at your cool, objective report of your accident and I wish you a speedy recovery. But, mostly, I am completely awed and inspired by your final thought:

I intend to get a new bike and ride H191 both directions with a friend and finish the ride.

That fortitude and will has been responsible for POW's surviving years of torture, kidnap victims escaping and living to tell the tale, empoverished people rising to the top, and many other stories of personal victory. I commend you in the highest manner possible. clap.gif

Paul

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Gear: I always wear and was wearing fully armored and padded leathers from head to toe and a full-face helmet.

 

Todd;

Thanks so much for sharing your ordeal. I wish you the fastest recovery.

I'm wondering if your leathers had any rib/shoulder/back armor?

If not, do you think armor in those places would of made much of a difference in your injuries?

 

Richard

p.s. as I left my house this morning on my GS there was a deer standing along the road not a 100 feet from my house. I immediately thought of your story.

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Todd,

Thanks for taking the time to share such a detailed account of your ordeal.

It's a good read, fricken deer !!! Maybe we should set up a fund to re-introduce wolves into the deer prone areas.

 

Heal up, hope your back on the road soon thumbsup.gif

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WOW!

 

What a scary thing to read, let alone experience.

 

I hunt deer with bow and arrow. I have had deer less than 20 yards from me, which I have been watching, "disappear" into thin air just by simply not moving. I know where they are, I'm sure they haven't left but my mind can not make them appear.

 

Your relatively low speed no doubt contributed to you being here to tell the story. Of course, your gear made a great deal of difference in the outcome.

 

Wishing you a speedy and full recovery.

 

Thanks for sharing and reminding us just how quickly things can change.

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Very glad you're on the mend, and able to relate the tale to us.

Also very impressed with your determination to go out and finish the ride!

Bravo on both counts! thumbsup.gif

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This is addressed to everyone who posted to this thread. Thank you to one and all for your kind sentiments, your words are greatly appreciated! smile.gif

 

Typing is a bit of a chore and my writeup took 6 hours yesterday to complete plus some percoset later in the evening.

 

To Paul: Thank you for encouragement. We all have choices to make about the risks we take in living our lives. Along with all of you who ride, I choose those paths that are less traveled. And to lead my life in the spirit of high adventure.

 

To Richard: Yes my leathers had full padding and armor in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, back and buttocks. I would have faired much worse had I not had that protection.

 

To Dances_With_Weiner_Dogs: I had just come out of a right turn and was going down a short straight into another right hander. The bike was already going straight forward. I didn't fly up into the air I went straight down from the seat into the ground in a whiplash fashion, there was no high side.

 

To DHB: Everyone has to ride their own ride. If you were wicking it up and having a good time and are still here to tell the tale then it is all good. I have crashed and been injured in every sport I have tried except skiing. If I stopped after each of those accidents I would no longer be: Mt. Biking, Roller Blading, Hiking, Motorcycling or Ice Skating.

 

Todd

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

I'm glad you're okay.

 

Anything some of your semi-local "friends" from the Board can do to help you out? Just say the word.

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PhillyFlash

Yours is truly one scary story, Todd. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't worse for you, and you are on your way to recovery.

 

I know 191 well. For those who don't know it, that area south of Hannigan Meadow is not as tight and technical as the lower portion of 191. It runs through a high alpine forest of tall pine trees, with the trees not too far from the road, and it is easy for deer to disappear while standing right in front of them. Sunlight is usually blocked due to the tall pines. If I'm not mistaken, the speed limit is about 50 or 55 in that stretch, and I know riders often go much faster through there (DAMHIK). It's fortunate that you were riding at a conservative pace, which really is the prudent thing to do on that road. 50 mph would not be an unreasonable speed.

 

I'm looking forward to your ride tale when you finally complete the ride. Some people would avoid that road after an encounter like yours, but some prefer to face those demons, look them square in the eye, and ride on through. I'm sure that your next ride on The Devil's Highway will be much more enjoyable.

 

By the way, I may be heading up 191 with a buddy of mine in a few weeks. I think we'll make it a smell the roses ride, and keep alert for those little bastards by the side of the road.

 

Heal quickly.

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Say, Todd that was a great write up of an awful experience. I'm glad you're healing and can tell about it.

 

Isn't it incredible how everything goes into slomo mode during the course. You will never, ever forget the details. I haven't - from one 35 years ago.

 

Good to hear you're going to swing your leg over again.

 

Be well brother.......

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Typing is a bit of a chore and my writeup took 6 hours yesterday to complete plus some percoset later in the evening.

Todd, if you have Microsoft Word 2003 or better and any cheapy microphone, it has voice recognition capabilities. While not perfect, after training it to your voice, it will certainly help you put your thoughts onto a Document much easier, which you can than cut and paste here. Wow, you would spend 6 hours just to let us know your tale. We're not worthy, we're not worthy! grin.gif

(Besides, Percoset should be better saved for things that cause true pain, like work! grin.gif)

Thanks for sharing.

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Pilot to Copilot, Pilot to Copilot...

Todd, I am so glad you are still among us living souls. Thank God for Demerol, it can be such a life[saver?], haha. I joke about the drug but your spirit and attitude is awesome---get back soon and keep us posted---you are one tough dude. thumbsup.gif

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I really liked the way you wrote the details of your accident. From you injuries I thought you must have hit the deer at about 70mph. With the gear you were wearing and the speed of the impact, I'm apalled at your injuries. ooo.gif

 

Take care, and I hope you make a full recovery. thumbsup.gif

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All the best in your recovery. Thanks for taking the effort to chronicle your tale. It certainly is a wake-up call to us all. Hope everything goes smoothly from here.

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Todd, That was a brilliant account of the entire accident and trip to the hospital. It's heartening to see that you remain defiant. Your story serves as a reminder to the rest of us that things can go to hell in a second. Heal Fast, Brother. If at all possible, I'd like to take that ride down H191 with you.

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Great write up! Sorry you had to experience the wreck. I went through the (almost) same thing with a deer in Mo. a year ago, but came out of it with just some large bruises & swelling. Oh, and $1600.00 worth of damage to the bike. I just hate hearing of crashes, and glad you didn't get it worse.

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Todd:

 

You have lived the worst nightmare that we all have. I'm glad that you are on the road to recovery. You have the right attitude (complete that ride) and will prevail.

 

You are also correct that nothing could be done about it, given the circumstances. Rossi would have hit that deer, too. I have fond memories of chasing you on Skaggs/Stewart Point and I know that you are a very competent rider.

 

My own deer encounter was with a fawn on CA 36 and the only casualty was the jug protector. If it had been a full grown critter, I would have been toast. Again, it's an "occupational" hazard.

 

Heal well and I look forward to riding with you again.

 

K^2

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Todd,

 

This is always so sobering to me and I thank you for posting it. I will pass this story along, as I always do, as a reminder to my riding friends as to how careful we must be at all times and that even when we are careful the worst can happen so always wear the right gear. Please heal quickly!

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Hey everyone,

 

Well the external fixiter became infected where the pins go through the skin so I had to go to the hospital today and get IV antibiotics. I am back to three finger typing but I am still in good spirits. I can't respond to all of the new posts about my accident but rest assured I have read all of them. Thanks for the encouragement and strong sense of community that prevails on this board.

 

I'll post some before the accident pictures in a few weeks when I am able.

 

Cheers!

 

Todd

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Hey everyone,

 

Well the external fixiter became infected where the pins go through the skin so I had to go to the hospital today and get IV antibiotics. I am back to three finger typing but I am still in good spirits. I can't respond to all of the new posts about my accident but rest assured I have read all of them. Thanks for the encouragement and strong sense of community that prevails on this board.

 

I'll post some before the accident pictures in a few weeks when I am able.

 

Cheers!

 

Todd

 

Todd, your riveting post brought back vivid memories of two serious accidents I experienced many years ago. Unlike yourself, I don't remember the actual impact in either accident due to head trauma. In both cases (motorcycle & bicycle), the helmet I was wearing at the time, without question, saved my life.

 

I also experienced a set of collapsed lungs (1 1/2) and remember like it was yesterday the feeling of not being able to get enough air, going in and out of consciousness, not knowing if I was dying right then and there.

 

As for your external fixator, my god what a hideous, but necessary device. I had one on my right leg for almost nine months. Like you, my pins (eleven to be exact) became infected numerous times.

 

I wish you a quick, speedy, pain-free as possible recovery. I salute you for being empowered to want to get right back on a new bike and give H191 another run for its money thumbsup.gif!

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Is deer control on any government list of things to do? No. But these road rats are a growing problem to be sure. It would be a simple matter to allow unrestricted deer hunting year round and process the meat to feed the hungry.

 

Is deer control even considered a problem by anybody else other then motorcyclists? Insurance companies?

 

What a story. I'm glad you're on the road to recovery. It's amazing how perception and time changes when something bad happens on a bike.

 

An observation based on my riding: I've seen many deer from the various BMW saddles that have been in my garage. I've seen none from the back of my Buell. This includes the 2000 mile iron butt round trip last summer. No deer. I don't know if the bark of the V&H scares them off or what, but just an observation.

 

Anyhow, here's something to look at as you heal...get well soon.

 

tb_buell-lg-1.jpg

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What can be said after such a horrific event. Glad you survived to ride again. Heal fast and go make that ride!

 

Best wishes,

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Todd,

 

Thanks for sharing your painful ordeal. I read crash reports pretty avidly and yours is the type that scares me the most because you seemed to be doing everything right. I hope that you make a full recovery and that your experience doesn't turn you off from riding.

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Hi one and all,

 

Well the recovery is going along nicely but too slow for my tastes. But, not much I can do about but let nature take its course. The external fixiter comes off on the 15th and I am going back to San Jose CA from Pinetop AZ on the 17th. As soon as I am able I am going to throw a party and the theme is going to be "It's great to be alive!" I'll post the invite when it comes together.

 

I am hoping to be back on a bike again by the third week of July as I have a scheduled ride coming up. But who knows what will happen as my body has to be healed first. Of course getting the insurance settlement helps and wouldn't ya know it, the US Postal Service lost the title in the mail. So I will have to get a duplicate title before I can get the settlement money.

 

Thanks again to all the well wishers and encouragement. It makes a positive difference in my attitude and in my recovery.

 

Cheers!

 

Todd

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