Author: Steve Pretzel
He was in third, maybe fourth gear. Still accelerating hard, the front wheel of the KTM 525 clawed at the sky.
What happened next is a matter for conjecture. According to nearly-dead-Dave, he saw the corner, hit the brakes and the front brake failed completely. Maybe it happened that way or maybe he didn’t see the corner until it was too late.
Either way, the big Kato barrelled on straight ahead into the bushes, hit a mound and knocked down a fair sized banksia from about 6 feet off the ground. When nearly-dead-Dave regained consciousness he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move and was in a world of pain.
What’s worse, he was alone on a remote bush track, several kilometres from the nearest road, about 10 kilometres from the nearest town. It was around 6am on a Saturday morning. And he wasn’t even on the track - he was buried in the dense scrub about ten metres from the track.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly-dead-Dave knew roughly how bad things were. As a registered nurse he fairly quickly diagnosed the shattered pelvis, broken ribs and shoulder, punctured lung and damaged spleen. He figured his chances of survival were remote.
The previous night some mates had dropped off the second hand bike at nearly-dead-Dave’s house. They didn’t leave his riding gear, though, because they were concerned that Dave had been on the turps and they didn’t want him getting any ideas about riding on his own in the morning.
Just after sunup Dave decided to go for a quick blast. No helmet, no boots. And now he was about to pay the ultimate price for that one bad judgement call.
Somehow he managed to drag himself close to 100 metres to where the track crossed a property firebreak. And there, miraculously, he was found by a neighbour taking an early morning stroll with his dog.
The neighbour didn’t recognise Dave - his entire body had blown up like a balloon from the internal damage. But Dave was soon in an ambulance and then flown to Perth where he spend several months recovering.
By chance I met Dave at that very same corner a year or so later. This time he was the one walking his dog and I was riding with some mates. We chatted about what happened that day. Nearly-dead-Dave was an average sort of guy, he just let impulse override his better judgement.
I used to ride alone, too. My wake-up call was a lot less traumatic - a dislocated shoulder within about twenty metres of a sealed road, and I was able to pop it back in and ride home.
If I’m ever tempted to just hop on the bike and go for a solo blast I remember that incident, and I remember nearly-dead-Dave. And if I can’t rustle up a couple of mates to join me I reschedule.
You just never know what might happen out there.