Above is a picture of my old 1999 Ducati SS750 with full fairing. I had never thought a sportbike was a bike for me. I first rode dirtbikes, for many years, and didn't get on the street until shortly after my 25th birthday. That first street bike was a Harley, because I'd always wanted one, for as far back as I can remember....Harleys were cool. LOL....Also, one of the things that got me to finally break down and buy one was that Wade, my best friend, had bought a Harley six months before I did. Him buying one made me want to buy one that much more......Anyway, I also lived in Sumter, SC, which is very flat and full of straight roads. I truthfully didn't see any reason why they'd even sell sportbikes for use on public roads, but then......I moved to the Upstate of South Carolina.
After a few years of riding in the mountains on the Harley, I was scraping "hard parts" in the curves and thought it would be pretty dangerous to continue riding this way. Wade had sold his Harley a few years earlier, due to a divorce, and recently bought an old 1995 Yamaha FZR600. He wanted to get as far away from a Harley as possible so he didn't compare the two. Interestingly enough, we both liked the Ducatis and other "exotic" and European sportbikes. Anyway, I'm side tracking here...
When I decided to get a sportbike, I liked the Ducatis, mainly because I'd heard great things about their racing history and their handling, but mainly because they weren't all that common around here. I went down to Daytona for Bike Week in early March of 2000 and talked with every Ducati owner I could find. I got nothing but positive feedback from them about thier bikes, and once I got home, I started to decide on what I wanted to get. I really LOVED the 748 in yellow, but didn't want to spend $12,500 on a new one, didn't like the idea of buying a used sportbike, nor did I want one with too much power. I liked the full-fairing look, so, naturally, I decided on this Supersport 750 in full-fairing. I found a "last year's model" on the showroom floor at the dealer in Columbia, SC, and struck up a deal with them on it.
When I first got the bike, I was absolutely amazed at the difference between it and the Harley. The Ducati was so much smoother and quicker. I remember the first time I rode it. I shot up to 80 mph so fast, and it was so smooth, I felt like I was only doing 45mph. I also recall several times taking off and starting to put my feet forward, onto non-existant highway pegs. I knew this bike was going to take a little while to get used to.
I became obsessed riding this bike. I worked third shift, so I was losing sleep so I could take the bike into the mountains before work. I rode the bike just about every chance I got, weather permitting. I didn't know it at the time, but eventhough I'd been riding motorcycles for years, this was a different kind of bike and a different kind of riding. I "thought" I knew how to ride and knew what I was doing, but looking back on it, now, I was pretty stupid. I did a lot of things that I shouldn't have, and I took a lot of risks. This is one reason why it is a bit disturbing to know that I wrecked this bike when I was trying to "take it easy" on the way home from a ride.
On Friday, July 7, 2000, I had only gotten about 3 hours of sleep when I jumped on the bike and headed for the mountains of North Carolina. I wound up at Myer's Ducati in Asheville, NC and remember looking at some perforated Vanson jackets. I was going to get one, because the leather jacket I was wearing wasn't a riding jacket, but more of a pit-type jacket with snaps instead of a zipper. I ruled out buying one of the Vanson jackets, mainly because I didn't have a way to wear one and haul the other. I left there thinking I'd go back later and buy it. I decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway home, and figured I'd hit the 3000-mile mark on the odometer as soon as I hit my driveway. I was planning an oil change at 3000 and had the stuff at home waiting. So, I left Myer's and hit the Parkway.
Now, I'm not going to say how fast I was going on the Parkway, but let's just say that no one would be happy with what my speedometer was reading. I was having a good time, and just hauling ass. The weather was perfect and I felt like I was in the "zone" going from Asheville to Hwy 215 (about 40 miles). I stopped at the overlook at 215 to calm down a little bit before heading home. I should have stayed there longer. I jumped onto 215 and headed south. I didn't make it more than 5 miles, probably, before it happened.
I just came out of a right-hander and there was a little straight section of road before a leftie. I looked down at my tach to check the rpm for the upcoming curve. Appearantly, I thought the straight section was longer, or that I was going slower, because as I started to look back up, I saw the front wheel go off the road. I was in the curve, already!!! All I had time to think was, "This is gonna hurt".
I smacked into the side of the mountain at about a 60 degree angle. I caught my right leg between the mountain and the bike. There was a horrible noise of metal and plastic breaking, and my right femur breaking. I was ejected from the saddle and started to tumble head-over-heal. I felt my right shoe get pulled from my foot. For a period of time, I only saw green-blue-green-blue-green as the ground and sky took turns being in my line of sight. At one point, I was upside-down with my helmet tucked onto my left shoulder as I slid on my helmet. The helmet shows the scratches from this moment in my travels. I eventually wound up in a shallow ditch, on my stomach.
I traveled about 225 feet without the bike. There was a drainage culvert that the bike went into, and I sailed over. Fortunately, there were no trees, guardrails, or exposed rock in this curve....a strange occurance in the mountains. Laying there on my stomach, I started to do a self evaluation. I determined my right leg was broken since it felt like jello. A broken bone isn't life threatening, I thought, so it wasn't any real "big deal" and just kept my cool. I crawled on "three" to the edge of the road, took off my solid, bright-yellow helmet, and waved it at the first vehicle to come through. The first 5 or 6 cars stopped. One of them drove down the mountain to get a cell signal and call for help.
I wound up being evacuated by helicopter to Mission in Asheville. The results of the x-rays was a broken right femur in three places. A middle section of the femur, about five inches in length, was punched out of the center of it, and the neck of the femur, at the hip, was cracked. The doctor came up to me and told me about the surgury he was about to do. I asked if there was another option. He smiled and said, "traction for 12 weeks". All I could picture was crapping all over myself for the next 12 weeks and said in reply, "let's go bolt me back together". I don't remember much of the first day after that. I want to say I remember being wheeled out of surgery and toward the hospital room and seeing my parents in the hallway. After that, I remember waking up, looking outside, and, with my mom sitting in the chair next to the bed, saying, "today would be a nice day for a bike ride".
My mother and older sister are both Registered Nurses, so I wound up with my own, personal nursing staff, as the ones there didn't seem to want to come near me unless it was absolutely necessary. My mother believes it was because of all the cursing I did when they tried to get me walking THE VERY DAY after surgury. Man, it hurt like hell, though! I left the hospital on Wednesday and stayed at my parents' house for four weeks, until I could start to function a bit normally.
About five weeks after the accident, I discovered that I could get my leg over the seat of the Harley, but I never competely got on the bike. I was afraid that if I did, I'd have to take it for a ride. Four weeks after that, the urge got the better of me. I got the Harley out, put my crutches against my bike trailer, hobbled over to the bike, and rode it about 20 miles through the country-side. Yeah....you can't keep me off of a bike! I rode around on the Harley for about a month with my crutches upside-down in my saddlebags with a bungie cord holding them together (as seen in the picture above). Around September, while in Columbia for a check-up, I stopped by the Ducati dealer and was just hanging out. They had a left-over 1998 ST2 on the showroom floor and I was joking with the salesman about the price it would take to get me to take the bike home. I thought it was a low-ball figure, far too low to be considered, but the salesman told me that the store owner may take that little for it, just because he wanted to get rid of it. Four days later, I was signing paperwork for the brand-new bike at a price lower than what used ones were going for. It took almost a month before my parents heard about it, though.....I think my older sister let it slip out.