Hanksville, UT to ICU Grand Junction, CO
This is the second story in a series. If you didn't read the first one, you didn't miss much. I spent paragraph after paragraph complaining about intense heat, a run in with a cow, and the breaking down of the group dynamics on our motorcycle trip from Los Angeles to Sturgis, South Dakota. It's the un-glamorous parts of bike touring that no one ever tells you about. We thought things would get better, but they took a huge turn for the worse.
Day 3 Wind
His arm was gone. It was completely torn off except for a 2-inch strip of skin. Everyone was in a total panic. At first, I had no idea how bad the damage was. Chad was lying in the ditch alongside a tight right-hand hidden switchback in the mountains of southwestern Colorado.
Wake up late. Eat fast. Gas up. Charge out. Shoot up into the mountains. Why do we do this to ourselves? The five of us had gotten in late the night before after battling winds and rain. By the time we left the hotel in Hanksville, Utah, it was late afternoon. We cruised through the switchbacks leading to and from the Hite Bridge spanning across the Colorado River on Route 95 (Bicentennial Highway). It was an odd feeling to cross one of the nation's grandest rivers in solitude. We didn't see any cars along all of 95. We kept heading through Blaring on 191 and crossed the state line on 491. We headed north on Highway 141 towards the unincorporated town Egnar, Colorado (whose name is "Range" spelled backward), with Chad leading the pack on an '09 pearl yellow Honda Goldwing, Brad following on a Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager, and the rest of us way behind.
I had been trying to keep up with Chad and Brad's close formation, but they are much more experienced riders. Checking my ego, I relaxed the throttle a bit. The floorboards scraped asphalt around every bend. A blind turn came up, and I saw a flash out of my left peripheral. Wait! Was that Brad running on foot? Ahead of me was a cloud of dust. Fuck. It was windy in the mountains that day, but it wasn't windy enough to whip up thick black dirt in the apex of the switchback. I wasn't sure what had happened yet, but I knew it wasn't good. I drove past the ominous cloud, squeezed the fuck out of my Electra Glide's front calipers, and ran. I didn't even spend the extra second to put down the kickstand. I didn't care.
Chad was laying on the ground lifeless about 40 feet behind a crushed yellow Goldwing, and Brad was backing away from the scene. My brain clicked, and I went to work. I never thought of myself as a calm person. I figured that if something like this ever happened I would freak. I didn't.
By the time I got to Chad's side he was starting to make noise. He was alive! From the looks of it, Chad's arm had a nasty fracture and his wrist looked destroyed-like a bunch of trash overstuffed in a garbage bag. I have been working on getting my wilderness first responder certification for years, but have never finished. What I did learn came in handy. I checked Chad's pulse in his right arm, and thought I wasn't doing it right. I couldn't feel anything, just cold flesh. I checked his left arm and felt his blood ripping through his radial artery. The pulsation from his wrist told me his heart was still in the "on" position.
Blood seeped through the sleeve of his armored jacket. I gently moved his right arm to inspect the damage. He was bleeding out. I asked a few of the guys in our group who had just shown up to help me turn him over. One guy puked, the other guy said no way, and the third said not to touch him. In order to keep his spine inline, I needed their help. I didn't want to risk putting Chad in a wheelchair for life, but I knew we had to stop the bleeding.