1975 At 110MPH everything can change in a moment

In 1975

It was a warm summer evening in 1975, during a weekend trip to the Riverland, my bike had a minor brake problem so to be safe, I doubled up with Robert Trussell one of the other riders in the group. We were traveling from Swan Reach to Waikerie, the sun had not long gone down but it got dark quickly. It was a good straight road and Bob decided to see what the top speed of his Honda Four was.

I had spent some time tuning it up earlier that day, little did we know that we would run out of road so fast. At one point we had topped 110 miles an hour, Bob had been counting out the speed as we accelerated, I peered over his shoulder when he yelled 110 and as I brought my head back behind his helmet to shield my face from the fury of the wind, I saw some small but bright lights off to the left.

My first thought was that it was a farmer night plowing his field, but in seconds I saw a row of smaller orange lights trailing behind them. I realised it was a semi-trailer and we were on a collision course.

I yelled to Bob that there was a semi coming, and just as he turned his head to say “what?”, I glimpsed the cross road sign flash by.

We were traveling so fast, by the time he had his eyes back on the road, all he could see was the semi-trailer going through the intersection a short distance in front of us.

The riders behind us said the brake light only flashed on for a second before it looked like a fireworks display, sparks fanning out in all directions. The motorcycle hit the center of the first three back wheels on the triple bogie trailer, it was an unladen wine carrier, so I bounced off the wire fame like it was a vertical trampoline.

My body smashed back down onto the bitumen, both legs and arms broken as well as the trailer’s wheels, axles, and the bike squashed like a pancake. The impact also caused unseen damage to multiple discs in my lower back, which didn’t surface until some years later.

The driver of the Semi tried calling for assistance on his CB radio but with no response, he continued his drive to Waikerie to retrieve help but his engine overheated from dragging the crippled trailer. We were in the middle of nowhere, no phones and no help on a black horizon.

Among the first few vehicles to arrive from Waikerie was an eye specialist who had been visiting the area, with luck, he was able to slow the bleeding and start a drip when the Ambulance eventually arrived, saving my life.

After a number of operations and 8 years of recovery in 1983, it was one of the last big third party insurance claims, totaling around a million dollars including medical costs but it took a lot less than 8 years to spend the money. That year I started my mobile disco business and left my first wife.

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