If At First You Don’t Succeed, Middle-Aged Motocross Is Not For You


It seemed like a brilliant idea: pay tribute to Steve McQueen by entering in the 100-mile off-road race at Elsinore this November.

Well, I won’t be doing that, or much of anything, for the rest of the year.

There’s a long version of the story and I’ll be telling it soon in a manner that I hope will amuse you all, but in the interest of brevity here’s the TL;DR:

Broke the end of my leg on motorcross bike, at motocross track, right where it fits into the knee. Also messed up said knee. It was my “good” leg, the one that’s longer than the “bad” one. Currently experiencing more authentic pain than I’ve had since 1988. This is really character building.

All I can say is that I finished the ride and got the bike off the track and back to the pits, broken leg and all, under my own steam. Once two people lifted me up and put me on said bike.

It was the oddest of freak accidents and probably didn’t happen at more than 30mph.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be inventing new curse words pretty much every time I have to go to the bathroom or move at all. This will be particularly true during the seven hours I’ll be spending on Southwest Airlines tomorrow.

If I promised to:

  • help you move
  • run in your 5k
  • walk somewhere to meet you for lunch
  • speak to you without intermittent screaming

those promises are null and void until 2016.

That’s all.

40 Replies to “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Middle-Aged Motocross Is Not For You”

    • Tyson

      Bob: Geez, there’s a lotta signs, eh? Elsinore Castle, Elsinore Brewery, Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane. Hey that’s the loony bin, ain’t it?
      Doug: I don’t like the looks of this one bit.
      Bob: Where should we go, loony bin or brewery?
      Doug: I’m takin’ you to the loony bin, then I’m goin’ to the brewery!
      Bob: Take off!

  1. Rob

    So sorry to hear. I’m 43 now and constantly finding new and interesting ways to injure myself. Perhaps your recuperation period will generate more near-future fiction.

  2. Ken

    Well, thank god it wasn’t your hands and you can still operate a keyboard. Write for me monkey – WRITE!!

    (In all seriousness hope you get better soon. A bum leg is gonna mean less motorsports, and then what are you going to write about?? …Guitars? …More social commentary? Sweet baby Jesus.)

  3. VolandoBajo

    My prayers and best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, brother.

    One word of advice from one who has been there. Oxycodone is a hell of a lot harder to kick than plain morphine, and doesn’t seem to be any more effective. Obviously, I am not a doctor, but I have been there and done that, both sides of the equation, and the oxy took a lot more concentrated will to wean myself off of.

    Hope you will be able to fill us in with an entertaining and cautionary tale soon, if only to help you cope with what happened.

    I have long since had to more or less accept that I am not in my twenties any more, though on a good day I still feel like that, at least for part of the day.

    Once again, all the best in hoping for at least some decent pain relief as well as a speedy recovery.

  4. Cptbkl

    By God’s Grace, we get to keep you. Your loss would be would be incalculable to those who love you. John needs you.

  5. -Nate

    Well that sucks .

    Sorry to hear this , glad you’re O.K. , they can do wondrous things in surgery these days so have faith , just remember to follow all the PIA P.T. rules and you’ll be astride a Moto again before you know it .

    So far I’ve managed to not break my legs nor arms , I even still ride so you’re going to look back at this some day and …..sigh , not laugh .

    Agreed , watch out for the dope happy Doctors who’ll fill you up with oxy-crap and morphine ~ I had the threaten to kill my Nurse before the Doc. would take me off the dope when I was hospitalized after my near fatal Moto collision .

    I find meditating directly on the pain to be very helpful , YMMV .

    *DO* talk to John about this and how it’s just a bump in life’s road , not to be afraid .


  6. Bozi

    That sucks. Hopefully they can get you fixed up soon and without too much pain. I can send best wishes your way or some Serbian moonshine if that’s more helpful

  7. E. Bryant

    Man – all I can say is that I’m sorry to hear of this, and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

    I have learned several things from the past five years of fatherhood, but one of the biggest lessons is that I no longer possess the durability or healing qualities of a small child.

  8. Ronnie Schreiber

    Tib-fib break or tibial plateau fracture? Hopefully you didn’t mess up the cartilage too badly.

    If I was God, I would not put the human knee on my resume. It’s like hinging your front door with a series of leather straps.

    R’fuah Sh’leimah, may you have a complete recovery (or as complete as possible, joints don’t heal well). Sincere empathy because it’s one of the times that I can literally say that I know how someone feels. Broken knees are no fun at all and having to travel with one that’s only splinted must be excruciating. Agree with decision to go with your own ortho. Waiting for surgery is no fun, I waited two days for mine, but confidence in your doc is important.

    If you need a bone graft, self-donate. Another incision but less risk than using cadaver bone.

    Accepting that one is getting old isn’t easy. I’m almost 20 years older than Jack and it’s hard getting used to the idea that I’m just not physically capable of doing things that I could when I was younger.

    Still, it’s nice to live in an era with real medicine. My bad knee doesn’t work perfectly, but it works a hell of a lot better than Les Paul’s elbow did.

  9. davefla

    Godspeed, and my only addition to the fine sentiments above is this advice: make it your goal to cause the sadists (er, physical therapists) to openly wince in your presence as you do their bidding, at a high level of effort and enthusiasm… Not that it ever hurt any less, I just am that pathetically prideful!

  10. jdh

    Sorry to hear of your injury. Kudos for attempting something most middle-aged men would avoid. I hope in the end at least the story is worthwhile.
    I broke a tibial plateau fifteen years ago in an Arizona desert race.Luckily there was no displacement and i didn’t tear up the cartilage or ligaments. It sounds like your issue may be more severe.
    Here’s hoping for your speedy recovery.

  11. Reese B

    That’s some shit, man.

    Heal well, and though I’m not the first to say it, do beware the call of the dinner-plate-size painkillers.

  12. awagliar

    I doubt there’s anything I could tell you about the recovery process that you don’t already know, so I’ll simply offer a trite reprise of everyone else’s sentiments: get well soon.

    15 years ago, I had a motorcycle-related non-displaced fracture of the tibial plateau, followed by 18 weeks of external fixation. Not fun by any stretch of the imagination, but not the end of the world either. It made me a curious-looking usher at a friend’s wedding: tuxedo-shod from the waist up, but with black shorts, a halo around my knee, a couple pins and rods towards my ankle, sandals, and the ever-present crutches. The only person I was able to ush was the mother of the bride, because she was shuffling along with a walker. With any luck, you’ll find (and share!) some humor from your experience.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Your TPF must have been worse than mine. My doc used an stainless steel internal plate. I was hoping for titanium to match the bicycle I was riding when the SUV hit me and bent my knee the wrong way. The plate’s still there, there’s a bump in my left knee that’s not in my right one, but I’ve never had it removed because I don’t want to deal with rehab again.

  13. VicMik

    Well, ain’t that some shit…just when you thought you’ve broken all of the bones you would for the lifetime.

    I remind you of a wide range of wonderful pharma drugs that will make this ok while you drool all over your pillow.

    Character building is cool too.

    Speedy Recover to you, sir.

  14. aoletsgo

    Bummer Dude!
    I raise a glass to your speedy and full recovery.
    It is a quandary, I am over ten years older then you and still mountain bike but the crashes hurt more all the time and recovery is slow. On the other hand I have been freaked out this whole summer road bike season because two friends of friends were killed on their road bikes by drunk pickup drivers.

  15. Domestic Hearse

    Really, really sorry.

    Not a good break. You have officially eclipsed me in the broken bones department.

    Time to live vicariously through John, Jr. Teach him to go fast in his kart. Master kart set-up wizardry. Buy all the extra tools and trailer by selling the dirt bike.

  16. -Nate

    Jack ;

    Do _NOT_ sell the Moto ! .

    I know lots of old guys who still go out and play in the Desert all the time , they’re no longer seriously competitive but most of them ride better than I did ever .

    As i was recuperating from my fatal Moto collision , I couldn’t walk yet I was looking at Motos OnLine as soon as I could and SWMBO told me if i wanted to buy a new one I’d earned the right after all the misery so I did =8-) .

    Hang tough , I already know you will .

    You can die abed or be killed sitting on a bus bench so don’t waste one precious moment of your greatest gift ever : life .



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