Sharon and I took a long motorcycle trip this July 4th weekend. The plan was to go to South Dakota and check out Sturgis, Mount Rushmore and the town of Deadwood for a couple of days. Then we would trek through Nebraska to Kansas to visit with my family for a couple more days before heading back home.
The trip to south Dakota was fun and we made good time. The next day we visited Sturgis and checked out a really cool bar there called Full Throttle Saloon. It was huge, both indoor and out door. They had a distillery that sold many different flavored whiskeys. Of course, we had to buy a couple of bottles. Later that day we went to a rally with a couple of friends and had dinner later that evening. We were so thirsty that neither Sharon nor I had an alcoholic beverage for our meal. Just a lot of water.
Turns out this was a hidden blessing.
We had an accident on the way back to our bed and breakfast. I hit a deer. It was dusk, and the road was winding as it went over a pass on the way back to Deadwood. I came out of a turn and accelerated to get back up to the speed limit when a deer jumped right in front of us. I did not see it at all until it was right in front of us. I had no time to re-act. I believe we were going about 45 to 50 miles an hour at the point of contact.
The deer flew across the road. Sharon and I were skidding and rolling down the road.
We were smart enough to wear our leather and helmets. We always do that when we are on the highway, no matter what. This literally saved our skin and heads.
A few cars pulled over to help us, of which Sharon and I are grateful for. They helped get the bike out of the way, called the police and assisted us in checking for damage on our bodies.
We had cuts and bruises, but that was about it. The muscles on my right side (chest and lats) were tight. I later realized it was because the handle bar jammed into my side as I layed down the bike, bruising my ribs.
Neither of us had any broken bones, torn ligaments, neck problems, or lower back pain. I am still amazed by that.
Anyway, after re-assessing how we were doing, Sharon and I did get back on the bike and rode it to where we were staying for the night. We had someone follow us just in case there were problems. We made it back safely. We stayed up for a while and had some whiskey (need to wind down, right?), and went to bed. The next morning we bandaged ourselves and took some time to decide what we wanted to do. We were debating between heading back home, staying another night in town and see how we felt the next day, or simply stay the course and head to Kansas. Sharon felt good enough to handle a long ride. The question was me. My legs were stiff and my knees hurt, but other than that, I felt pretty good, so we opted to go to Kansas. That was the longest part of the trip. It took us about 14 hours to get there. We pulled in very late, and boy, was I beat up.
Once in Kansas, we really rested up and licked our wounds, so to speak. We spent a lot of time out on the front porch reading, talking, and enjoying some wine. It really was wonderful.
My legs felt much better when it came time to go home, and thankfully the trip home was uneventful.
When we got home that night, my right side really started to spasm and tighten up. It was painful to even lift a light object. Moreover, my knees and lower right leg really started to bother me.
Sharon is also experiencing more points of pain. Her toes hurt last night (from banging up against the side of her boots is our guess), and she is getting a big bruise on her left leg. Still, neither one of us has a torn ligament or broken bone.
The reason I am writing about our motorcycle accident on this blog is because I really believe that by staying in good shape, and especially by doing intense strength training for many years, Sharon and I made it through this traumatic experience about as close to unscathed as possible. I am about to turn 58, and Sharon is 62, and yet we did not “break” anything.
It’s not only us. We have other clients that had serious accidents and came out OK. One client had a bad accident skiing. When she told me what happened, I was sure that she had to have torn an ACL or MCL (medial collateral ligament), but the MRI showed no tears. The doctor told her she just needed time to heal. She came back in for some light workouts after a couple of weeks and she is almost back to her old level of strength, and her knees feel better every day. Amazing.
It has been known for some time that the more muscle someone has, the more support she has for the joints and connective tissues. Additionally, by building muscle, one also builds bone as well. Sadly, the opposite is also true. If one loses muscle mass, one will lose the extra support for the joints as well, along with the loss of bone mass.
On a side note, research shows that we could lose an average of 1/2lb of muscle every year from around 30 years old on up through the rest of our lives.
I have known this for a long time, but I did not realize how effective building and maintaining muscle is in injury prevention until our accident. For us, it was a game changer.
I am now convinced more than ever that we all should make strength training the cornerstone of our exercise routine. It can literally save lives.