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  • Writer's picturePhoenix Phillips

Rock to the face

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

At 120 km per hour a pebble striking your exposed cheek can do some damage, as I discovered. Tempted to rid myself of the claustrophobic feel of a full-faced helmet I opted for a beanie-style noggin protector. The look is so rebel-like, and the feel of the wind at your face is so liberating…this I still believe to be true. But remember my comment about a pebble traveling at a high rate of speed, intersecting with exposed flesh?

Not more than 20 minutes into my ride with my new half lid, my attention was diverted from the road to a sharp pain off the right side of my face. Immediately I knew that something had struck me. What hit me? It didn’t matter…I was in pain. With a quick glance at my side mirror, I could see blood spilling onto the side of my face. At that moment I’m trying not to freak out, just trying to stay calm to decide my next course of action. It made sense to me that I needed to pull over to assess the situation, and thankfully I did. Helmet off, I could see a cut just above my right eye: the source of the blood. I also felt a sensitivity to the area but concluded that I could carry on.

The long of the short of it was no permanent damage but bloody thankful that whatever hit me just missed my eye. From that moment on, I continue to wear a full-faced helmet. That is my story. But that is not the end of this story. From this experience I reached out to the motorcycle community to get a feel for what other objects you’ve been hit by, and oh my you had a few stories. Here are a few.

Birds seemed to be common culprit for many from pigeons to hawks, to crows, to owls, to wild turkeys, to ducks. Littering also populated the comment section as well. Stories of apple cores being launched from car windows to cigarette butts indiscriminately tossed by the wayside or being struck by an errant cup of coffee.

The injuries of these flying objects, although varying degrees, were also alarming. Harold recounts being struck by an owl once , “…glancing blow to right shoulder. Dang near took me off the bike where I broke three ribs sprained wrist and dislocated my left kneecap.” Greg shared the story of, “…being sprayed by a crop duster last week on way to work in the morning . Instantly eyes were burning and took breath away.”

Mother nature and wildlife were also on the list of mishaps. Getting pelted by hail was a good’er, then there’s Rick’s story:

“While riding thru the Rockies in Banff, around a bend, there in front of me a big mountain goat with huge horns and a 600 foot drop into the Fraser River. I stopped dead in the road, wonder what to do if he charged me needless to say, I was scarred shit less do I go left or right of him…after a few minutes, he just walked away up the mountain side and I felt very lucky to be alive.”

Then there are these stories:

(Allan) “I know someone who lost a leg while riding, a truck with flatbed was hauling a large forklift with the fork tines off and stored on the bed. As he rounded a wide corner one came off the bed hit the road and side swiped him, the driver NEVER stopped.”

(Chip) “Got hit by deer, jumped out in front of me on skyline drive in Va. Happened so fast I didn’t have time to hit brakes. 3 weeks in hospital and totaled bike. This occurred at around dusk. Before that happened I never even thought about hitting a wild animal I’m always looking for them now”

(Ron) “I rode without a windshield for 30+ years then bought bike that had one. Two years ago a rock came from somewhere and shattered my windshield in the location where my neck was behind. It would have knocked me off the bike at highway speeds. I rarely ride without one since then.”

(Natalie) “A vehicle's window imploded beside me and I was sprayed with glass!”

Of course, there’s the occasional wasp-in-the-jacket story or the ‘road alligators’ popping up on some lonely highway. My experience with the rock hitting my face, and these stories of objects hitting other riders, is for me a reminder that we as riders are more vulnerable than we think and that there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing then riding.

PS Your comments are always welcome


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