July 15, 2006. This was almost the last photo I ever took.
We had a group of fourteen riders that day. The first twelve riders crossed a creek at slow speeds, as the area was becoming congested from our parked bikes on the other side. We had stopped to take a rest break. The last two riders decided to horse around and race one another across the shallow creek crossing.
I was dismounted from my bike and standing off the road. Using a telephoto setting on my camera, was taking individual shots of the riders as they crossed. I had yet to remove my helmet. Just as I finished snapping the above shot, noticed in the viewfinder that the rider on the left was continuing to accelerate straight at me, moving at close to 50 mph. He had lost control of his bike, with the throttle being held wide open.
I turned to run for a tree that was a few feet away. I made one step, but before I could reach safety, was struck in the back by nearly 550 lbs. of machine and rider. I was thrown nearly ten feet in the air, flipped on my back before landing, and knocked unconscious ... "coming to" a few seconds later on the rocky ground. Remarkably, despite some bruises and stiffness in my neck, was unhurt. The helmet had protected my head, and my chest protector had distributed the impact force across my back, preventing spinal cord or internal organ injury.
Two lessons learned: 1.) A group ride is no place for fooling around, and 2.) ATGATT .... All The Gear, All The Time