Join Date: May 2018
Location: Jacksonville FL.
More wildlife than Charlie Sheen's seen
Youíve traveled 1511 miles. Youíve been moving for 33 hours and 9 minutes, your current speed is 0 mph.
I guess I better get this down in writing before I forget. Iíve wanted to do a Dusty Butt 1000 for several years now. That is 1000 miles on dirt in less than 24 continuous hours. I tried to come up with a route east of the Mississippi but I just couldnít do it. So I looked to the established route on the Great Plains. It has been completed 9 times in the US and I used that route, except I added a little bit to it. My addition was 250 miles of dirt from Goddard Ks to Lakin KS. that I would run before and after I picked up the established route in Lakin. Growing up in WV there was a place called Lakin that I thought was the state insane asylum. I thought it only fitting to include Lakin in this ride.
My plan was to ride my Africa Twin Adventure Sports from Jacksonville FL. To Wichita KS. change tires the next day and head out on my Dusty Butt the following morning. I had mounted an auxiliary 1.6 gallon fuel tank to add to the 6.4 gallons of the bike. I also carried a 30ml fuel bottle for emergency fuel. I had my fuel stops at 256 miles apart or closer and I expected to make these easily with my fuel economy history of the bike. My full Dusty Butt route was 1609 miles long with 1511 of it being dirt. I had to use some pavement to get to the gas stops and cross some rivers. I doubted I could do the full route in 24 hours but I knew there wasnít an established distance for 36 hours and I planned to make that 1500 miles. Roughly the ride was from Wichita to Lakin to Eads, CO to Colorado Springs to Cheyenne, WY to Paxton, NE to Lakin to Goddard KS.
I arrived in Wichita Friday morning fresh. I made some great friends and changed my tires to some MotoZ Tractionator knobbies. I scouted my starting gas station and made sure their receipts were accurate. I had a start time of 3 am Saturday morning. I got a good nightís sleep Friday and was rearing to go before three.
My first leg from Goddard to Lakin was a route that was 256 miles I had planned using Google Earth and had never ridden. It was almost all dirt with a short paved section coming into Lakin. I knew I would be slow on this first leg and I tried to stay safe. I hit several sections of deep silt that sucked some fuel and by the time I was coming into Lakin the sun was almost up and the bike was sputtering low on fuel. I made the gas station and set out on leg 2.
This leg was mostly on the route established by Will Allender and was on much larger roads. I was able to make good time but when I turned west I ran straight into a 30 knot headwind. The bike sputtered at 205 miles and I knew I was in trouble. Thatís 8 gallons sucked down the injectors way quicker than I expected. I eventually ran out of fuel and started walking just 3 miles south of Eads Co. I walked up to the guys at the dump outside of town and they hopped in a car and ran into town with my MSR bottle. I lost almost an hour thru this ordeal and I was worried about the rest of my planned stops being close enough to reach. Itís not like there is a gas station close by where I am going. I made it into Eads and was on the gas for leg #3.
This leg had snow covered Rockies visible in the distance for almost the whole time. The weather had warmed and the roads got smoother. I made great time and was thinking I could still possibly make 1500 miles in 24 hours on dirt. Up to this point I hadnít stopped for anything but fuel, and that little hike into Eads. I hadnít passed 10 vehicles in 500 miles of riding. I think I hit my first Jackrabbit on this leg, probably a couple of ring necked pheasants too. I lost count of how many of the pheasants and Roadrunners I hit on this ride. I also saw a Coyote run across the road in front of me but he wasnít chasing a Roadrunner that I could see. I added a fuel stop in Deer Trail CO to make sure I could make it into Wiggins Co for my next scheduled fuel stop. The roads were excellent except for the occasional wildlife encounter. I dodged, deer, antelope, bison, cattle, turkeys, raccoons, and numerous small birds.
Once fueled up in Wiggins I started to wick it up and try to make good time before darkness set in. My next fuel stop was supposed to be Paxton NE. but I once again made an additional stop in Julesburg CO. After Julesburg I was running a smidge too fast and got a flat front tire on a sharp rock. I couldnít get the tire to seat on the bead and ended up putting a tube in my tubeless tire. I lost an hour fiddling with this and darkness and cold were setting in on me. I stopped in Paxton and added a little air just for insurance. I put 28 psi in it when I made the repair but was concerned about what I would hit in the dark so I added another 8 psi to the front tire. And now I was getting cold, the temps were in the mid 30ís and I had my heated jacket on but I just wasnít able to stay warm for some reason. I continued on towards Goodland and there was one section of the road that was completely eroded away and I was picking my way thru there in second gear for quite a while. It was dark; I mean dark beyond what my LEDRider lights were able to show me. I kept hitting small game and dodging larger animals. My pace kept getting slower and I was not comfortable with the amount of game I was seeing. Ring neck Pheasants would make a sound like when you were a kid and put a baseball card by your spokes for a second or two. Phllpt Phllpt Phllpt when they hit the front wheel and then they were gone. Those dang jackrabbits get big and I hit at least three of them solidly.
I rolled into Goodland KS at 10:45pm cold and tired. Riding in the dark among all those animals took its toll on me. I knew I had well over 1000 miles of dirt behind me and there was no way I was going to safely make 1500 miles in 24 hours. I sat down in a truck stop and called Bill Ferren while I ate a roast beef truck stop sandwich. I told Bill that I had seen more wildlife than Charlie Sheen. My next fuel stop would be Lakin KS and I knew there would be no place open and warm there in the middle of the night. It hurt to make this decision but I knew the smart rider knows when to stop and Iím not always the smart guy. I decided to bail when I saw a Motel 6 beside the truck stop. That was tuff to do. Iíd planned to ride the 1609 miles straight thru and whatever time it took was going to be my submission. Nobody had ever completed 1500 miles of dirt in the IBA and I wanted to be the first. The motel light was calling me though and I gave in and got a room.
A hot shower and 5 hours of sleep can be a wonderful thing. I woke up and was feeling fresh and ready to roll. The outside temp was 34 and felt great. I got back on route at 6:10am and was feeling great knowing I would be able to finish the ride in daylight. I had plenty of time to make the 1609 miles in 36 hours and would at least have that accomplishment. The roads were empty and smooth all the way into Lakin KS. I fueled up there and grabbed a Gatorade for some extra fluid. I dumped the contents into my drink jug and filled the bottle with fuel; just in case. I almost ran out of gas on this same leg when I started this ride. I sure didnít want to fall short of fuel on the last leg on a Sunday morning. I did my time mileage calculations in my head and I knew I had an extra 1-2 hours to spare before the 36 hours were up. Life was good.
I slowed my pace and was enjoying the ride. The Great Plains really are great and beautiful beyond what I imagined. This was a trip of a lifetime and I appreciated this opportunity to experience it. Somewhere outside of Pratt KS I was tooling along with a huge field on my left and a windbreak of brush and thickets on my right. I topped a knoll and a deer ran across in front of me from the field to the brush. It was close and I clamped down on the brakes. As soon as this deer cleared I looked to the left from where it came. Another deer was running straight at me. I braced for the impact and at the last instant the deer turned and ran beside me. I was still slowing the bike as the deer ran in the left track while I rode in the right one. The deer turned its head and looked at the gap between my front wheel and engine. It then shot the gap. There was no way that deer was going to fit thru there and all I saw was sky sky sky dirt, wham.
I think the bike endoed with me still hanging onto the bars and my feet on the pegs. I took the full weight of the bike to my head and neck. The instant I hit the ground I knew I had spinal cord damage. I donít know how to describe it; I just knew. I lay on the ground on my back listening to the deer thrash and die in the brush behind me. The first thing I noticed was the sky was the prettiest blue sky I had ever seen. I was calm, I donít know why but I was. I was completely paralyzed and could only move my eyeballs. I could see out of the corner of my eye what I thought was the gas tank of the bike. From what I could see I thought my Spot was about 8Ē from my hand. The SOS button could have been in my hand and it wouldnít have mattered. I could not move or feel anything.
I knew I was on a deserted road and didnít expect anyone to travel it. I also knew there were a few folks watching my Spot and would wonder what was going on if I wasnít moving. I expected them to get spooked in 5 or 6 hours. I figured my wife would call some buddies and they would eventually call the police in Goddard which was 88 miles away. They would send someone out at first light I expected. I wondered if the Buzzards or the Coyotes would be able to get thru my Roadcrafter. I reasoned the only place they could get to my skin was below my helmet and above the stich. I doubted they would approach me the first night lying here so I wasnít too worried about that. I tried to calculate if I could still make my mortgage payment on disability and other life sustaining things. I run MotionX app on my phone using it as a back up to my GPS and it transmits to my helmet every 5 minutes my distance, time, and speed. Youíve traveled 1511 miles. Youíve been moving for 33 hours and 9 minutes, your current speed is 0 mph.
After hearing the transmission for about the 5th time I thought it was annoying so why donít I just turn off my Sena. I went to reach for it and nothing happened. I forgot I was paralyzed for an instant. I laughed at myself a little inside my helmet. After about 35-60 minutes a truck showed up. It was a farmer and his son. They decided to go to Sunday dinner and took this road as a shortcut. They said they havenít been down this road in 2 Ĺ months. They called 911 and I told them I couldnít move and had spinal cord damage. We talked for a while as we waited for EMS to show. They found my phone and dialed my wifeís number. Luckily she didnít answer and I left her a message that Iíd had a little problem and hit a deer. I would call her back when I knew more. I also called Roger Smith in Wichita and he agreed to come pick up my bike and take it to his house.
After about 30 minutes while we were waiting for the ambulance my left leg jumped up. At the same time my hands felt like they were being dipped in molten lead. It was like my body rebooted. I lifted my right leg, then I lifted my left leg. I was screaming into my helmet ďI can move my legs, I can move my legsĒ. Iím not sure how many times I said this but Iím sure it was several. I donít remember my hands hurting again until I got to the hospital but Iím sure they did.
I think total time from the deer strike to arriving at the hospital was about 6 hours. When the ambulance arrived they said they had a helicopter in route. I told them I was refusing the chopper. I did several calculations earlier and a $75,000 helicopter ride wasnít included. They didnít like it but agreed to transport me in the ambulance the 125 miles to Wesley Medical in Wichita. They cut off my Stich and I didnít argue too much as I expected that was going to happen. They had a real hard time getting my Nolan N104 Evo helmet off me. It was damaged and would not open via the chin bar. They cut away and removed the cheekpads and pulled off my helmet without opening it. These guys were great and kept their head in the game knowing they were dealing with a spinal cord injury. I wish I knew their names as Iíd sure like to thank them.
Upon arrival at Wesley they performed all kinds of tests, poked, and prodded me without much input from me. After all the tests I waited and waited with severe pain in my arms and hands. I now know it was nerve pain. All I knew then was my arms hurt so bad I wanted them to cut them off. Iíve broken several bones racing dirt bikes but nothing compared to this. I was screaming in pain at the slightest touch. The lighter the touch the more it hurt. The wind from wheeling me from the MRI to the CAT scan was excruciating. Every 4 hours they would double my pain medication and I couldnít tell they were doing anything to help with the pain. I was an ass. I was screaming that I understood lying in the woods being in this much pain, but nobody in a hospital should be in this much pain. The pain was bad enough that several times I told them to knock me out or kill me.
Sunday morning the neurosurgeon paid me a visit. He said I had a broken leg, rib, and 3 crushed vertebrate in my neck. My spinal cord was pinched, stretched, swollen, and punctured. Some of the bone fragments had penetrated the spinal cord. He was prepping me for surgery and finally upped my pain medication so I was out of pain. According to my wife, I got out of surgery about midnight. The doc said I had a lot of damage and previous issues with my neck. He plated and screwed the 3 vertebrate and attached them to the bones above and below the damage. He said the surgery was a success.
It is now 10 weeks later. I have Central Cord Syndrome from the damage to my spinal cord. I have various muscles scattered throughout my body that didnít work after the surgery. Thru physical therapy and medications I now have the ability to walk and do most things to function. I still have another month or 2 before I can drive. My docs say Iíve healed faster than anyone they have ever seen with Central Cord Syndrome. I am lucky; my wife and motorcycle community have stuck beside me thru this whole ordeal. I could never thank the folks enough that have helped me. The broken neck didnít change me but the response I received from it has. I had total strangers helping me and I will never know their names. My wife and friends have done so much I could write a book just on the help Iíve gotten, but I think you are probably tired of reading my ride report by now.