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One Simple Mistake
Motorhead: someone who thoroughly enjoys riding and working on anything with a motor. Since I was very young, I have been a motorhead. At about five or six years old, I drove my first motor vehicle: a 1996 Polaris Indy XLT Special snowmobile. That became the start of my obsession with anything that contained a motor. I was always out in the barn helping Dad. Since I was young, I wasn’t able to do much, but I still watched and absorbed all the information I could. When I was eight, my parents bought me a go-cart. Then a few months later, I bought a mini-bike from my uncle for five dollars. Anytime I had free time, I spent it riding the go-cart and the moped, which we nicknamed the mini-bike. A few years passed by and the go-cart and moped bored me. I grew weary riding them because they weren’t fast enough, and I couldn’t do much with them. I wanted something I could do more with; I wanted a dirt bike. After hours of persuasion and Craigslist surfing, Dad bought me a 1981 Honda XL 100 when I was twelve years old. The old, red Honda XL 100 ignited my love for dirt bikes.
Anybody who rides dirt bikes seriously knows that occasional mishaps happen and bad wrecks occur. Whenever I’m preparing to do a few hard laps, I suppress that thought and push myself to be better. Like any other sport, Motocross takes practice and skill to become a fast and skillful rider. The more a rider rides, the more fearless he gets; the longer a rider rides without a wreck, the more confident he feels. Small wrecks happen here and there, like washing out the front tire in a turn or whiskey throttling off a small jump, but those wrecks don’t phase a true rider. What really messes with the mind of someone who races dirt bikes is the rare but not unusual wreck where an injury occurs, which is exactly what happened to me.
I bought a 2001 Honda CR125R at the end of my freshmen year of high school. After I bought the red Honda with some serious character, including a full FMF exhaust system, Gold Renthal Fatty handlebars, and Troy Racing Graphics, I knew I had bought the dirt bike for me. Because the previous owner didn’t always care for the bike like he should have, I put days of work into it after I bought it, but it is now a great running dirt bike. I love my bike, and I have fallen in love with the sport of Motocross.
Everything on this dirt bike was different than what I was used to. I had to learn new clutching patterns, adjust to a better throttle response, and learn what RPM the powerband hits. After a few months of owning my CR 125, I was finally able to get used to the dirt bike, and I had vastly improved my riding skills. By the beginning of the summer of 2013, I had come to the point where I felt confident to actually competitively race at a motocross track in Delta, Ohio. Knowing it would take some work to get myself prepared mentally and physically, I rode at the small track a local farmer made in his woods at least three times a week. In case of an accident, I never rode without someone at the track with me.
Three weeks before I planned on entering the race at Delta, I was ready. I was so excited and racing was all I could think about day and night. After I left work on a Tuesday evening, my dad went with me to the farmer’s track. The weather could not have been better that day: sunny with temperatures in the mid to lower 70’s, perfect weather for the way I had tuned the carburetor my bike. I started with some warm up laps; everything seemed perfect. I hit the jumps just right; the track had a perfect moisture level; the turns had perfect traction, and my dirt bike ran perfectly. The high-pitched scream of the motor sounded like a harmonized melody. I sped faster and faster around the track, faster than I had ever ridden before. Pushing myself to exhaustion, I told myself, ‘Two more laps, then you can take a break.’ I had one more lap to go when I came off a turn wrong, not a big deal, so I let off the throttle and turned around to see what I did wrong. When I turned back around, I headed straight for a for a big hickory tree. I tried to turn out of the way, but it was too late. I smacked into the tree on the right side of my body; my foot and ankle took the hardest blow. I fell over along with the bike, but I didn’t know how hard I had actually hit the tree. I made sure to check over my bike first to make sure the crash hadn’t harmed it. Then I realized my foot throbbed in extreme pain. Thinking it was just a stinger that would go away in a few minutes, I picked my bike up, pushed it to the edge of the woods, leaned it up against a tree, and sat by the pond on the outside of the woods.
The pain in my foot wasn’t going away. I took my racing boot and sock off to see a black and blue foot that looked and felt like someone had dropped a brick on top of it. Upon seeing my foot, I immediately stuck it in the cool, blue pond that felt like ice crystals numbing my foot. By this time Dad had realized that something was wrong because I hadn’t zoomed past him in a while, so he leapt out of his chair to see me sitting on the edge of the pond with my foot in the water. He raced over and helped me up. “Did you wreck?” he asked.
I sarcastically answered, “No, I just felt like taking a break.” The pain worsened; my foot was beginning to swell, and I couldn’t put any weight on it. Unsure yet if I had broken something or if my foot was just badly bruised, Dad decided we should go to Urgent Care. He took me back the jeep and loaded up the dirt bike, and we were on our way to the hospital. By now my foot was extremely swollen and looked like purple balloon. I put a sock on it and put it in a shoe, so I didn’t have to look at it.
The whole way to Urgent Care, I hoped and prayed nothing broke. A broken bone would mean everything I had worked up to would be gone, and the race I looked forward to for weeks would go on without me. After we checked in and the doctors took X-Rays of my foot, Dad and I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like hours upon hours. Finally, the doctor came into the room. She pulled up the X-Rays on the computer and looked at them carefully and came to the conclusion that everything was okay and nothing broke. The pressure was lifted from my body. In about a week, I would be back preparing for the race.
The next day was a normal day; I woke up early and went to work. Because the extreme pain in my foot, I couldn’t put weight on it. To help me get around, I used my grandpa’s old cane. At about 10:00 AM, the phone rang in the office, and my boss called me over and said my mom was on the phone. She became very serious after I took the phone. “Josh, the radiologist just called and said that you have broken two bones in your foot,” Mom said. I went silent. I was crushed. Anger and frustration clouded my thoughts. Not wanting to believe what I just heard, I hung up the phone and continued on with my day.
The next day I had to go in and see a foot specialist, Dr. Rohdy. He told me about the breaks, and I was put in a walking boot. “What activities can I do?” I asked.
“Day to day activities is all you should do. Try to stay off of your foot as much as possible for the next six weeks. After the six weeks, we will take more X-Rays, and I will reevaluate your foot,” answered Dr. Rhode.
Everything I had worked for was gone. I suppressed my anger and continued on with my life. It was difficult to accept the fact that I had wrecked and injured myself. Because of one simple mistake on the track, all the time and effort I had put into riding was wasted. All my confidence on my dirt bike has disappeared, and I don’t know how soon it will return if at all. About two months passed before Dr. Rohdy cleared me to ride again. By then the riding season had ceased, and I won’t be able to ride my dirt bike until next spring. I don’t know if I will ever gain my confidence back or ever ride at the same level I rode at before I wrecked.