Motorcycle Shoes: Bad News

I went on a motorcycle ride early yesterday morning before the weather got real hot as forecast to be. Actually, riding at 0600 (just after dawn) with three early-bird biker buddies is fun and gets the ride in before the intense heat and humidity of the day sets in and makes riding an air-cooled heat producer — a Harley Big Twin engine — miserable.

One of my buddies showed up at our staging area wearing what he called “motorcycle shoes.” Knowing how I balk about wearing sneakers on a bike, he showed them to me and said…

…”I bought these from an on-line vendor you recommended.” (I will leave the name of this reputable vendor out so as not to damage the company’s reputation because after all, they rely on their diverse market to remain in business, even if the diverse market doesn’t know a shoe from a boot.)

My buddy lifted his jeans leg and showed me sneaker-looking “motorcycle shoes” made by Merrell. Funny, I had just listed Merrell on my boot wiki knowledgebase recently. He said that they were very comfortable and provided great traction. He went on to say, “with these motorcycle shoes, I get the best of both worlds and get to wear sneakers again.” This guy loves his sneaks. I see him in them all the time.

I didn’t say much about the poorly-made Chinese junk on his feet. I just raised the end of my jeans, pointed to my USA-made Chippewa Firefighter boot and said, “now that’s a real comfortable boot.” Then we mounted our iron steeds and got on the road. We rode for about an hour and ended up at a diner about which we had heard a lot of excellent reviews. The diner’s parking lot was on a low-grade hill. (Remember that for later.)

Being Father’s Day, the diner was already quite busy. The parking lot was almost full. We squeezed our bikes into the only remaining 1-1/2 parking spaces left. That’s fine — four bikes fit okay, though the hill made it a bit more challenging to park our bikes.

Fortunately just as we walked in, a table of four got up to leave, so we got a booth and had a great breakfast. Service was superb and attentive, despite the crowd. Food was excellent! I love a good breakfast to start my day off right.

We paid our check, left a nice tip, and went out to saddle up and ride. Even though it was in the low 80s (27C), I still put on my white lightweight vented jacket.

We planned to ride for about another hour to 90 minutes, then call it a day and get home by 10. One of my buddies was joking — “maybe I’ll get served breakfast again!” We all laughed.

As my buddy with those “motorcycle shoes” was trying to lift his side stand (on the left), his bike was leaning more to the right (due to the parking lot’s hill), and as he stood his bike upright, he ended up shifting more of his weight and his bike’s weight toward the right. He did what all bikers do in this situation — he planted his right foot on the ground for stability. However, due to the massive weight of his body and his bike, his right ankle rolled.

I didn’t see it happen, but I heard the scream and a loud “pop” when his ankle bone broke. I have had a similar injury (slip-and-fall), so I know how it feels. The rest of us grabbed him and his bike to prevent them both from toppling over. We put his bike back on its sidestand, then helped our buddy to a bench to sit. We evaluated his ankle which was already turning black and blue and swelling up.

Someone inside the diner saw what happened and came out to offer help. He identified himself as a paramedic with the local fire department. He examined my friend’s ankle and said, “yeah, it looks like it’s probably broken. You need to go to the ER to have it x-rayed and put in a cast.”

My buddy was still in shock and kept insisting, “I can ride… just help me get on my bike and let me ride home.” He tried to stand and winced in breathtaking pain. No way he was going anywhere.

The paramedic called 9-1-1 and an ambulance was there in a few minutes. I called my buddy’s wife to explain what was going on. As I discussed the situation with the wife, she said that she would bring her son who could ride her husband’s bike back home. So we decided that two of us (me & another guy) should go to the hospital to be with our friend until his wife gets there, and our other friend would wait at the diner for the son to be dropped off and escort him safely home on his Dad’s Harley.

Three hours later, after x-rays, having a splint applied and pain meds prescribed, my buddy was released from the hospital. We helped him into his wife’s car, then rode behind them to their house to make sure our friend got settled okay.

Now, more than ever, having witnessed this awful injury, I am more convinced than ever: Over-the-ankle BOOTS are for motorcycles, and low-cut sneaker-things are for walking, but NOT for motorcycling!

Life is short: wear boots when operating a motorcycle. The most injuries of lower extremities occur when parking. Remember that!

3 thoughts on “Motorcycle Shoes: Bad News

  1. I saw a guy with no helmet and wearing a pair of flip flops pulling out of the parking lot yesterday. He had a passenger on the back of his bike. I couldn’t help but to think that it’s just a matter of time before something tragic happens.

    • I see that too often when I visit my mother-in-law in Pennsylvania where there is no helmet law. As I refer to these guys, “Darwin Award Contenders.”

  2. BHD, I hope your riding buddy recovers fully and quickly. Maybe the next time he goes riding with you he’ll heed your words of sage advice and wears boots, long pants and a kevlar jacket. I see lots of guys….and gals…who aren’t being smart when they hop on their ‘cycle and are wearing the wrong stuff for the ride. I know flip-flops and shorts may be ‘stylish'(?) to some, but on a motorcycle (and even not on a motorcycle) they’re most definitely uncool.

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