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Location: Calamity Pass CO
Rider: Ken Murphy

I was racing in Calamity Pass CO, in 1994. I was having a pretty good day, running in the top 3. I came upon an opening with about 30 spectators, and being an enduro rider, immediately sensed danger. Looking at the area where they were standing caused me to overshoot the very next corner. At the apex of the corner was a very large aspen tree. It was about 30' tall, and about 1.5' in dia. at the base. I whacked it with the handguard, pivot turned and roosted away. About the time I hit second, I hear the crowd yelling. I remember thinking, man, that's pretty cool, those guys walked all the way out here just to root us on, when <THWOCK><stars/lights/pain/numbness> and as I was falling off the bike, backwards, I wondered, "What the f*ck was that?" I thought I'd been hit by a meteor or something. I lay on the ground, my whole body from the neck down was buzzing like a funny bone bump. I knew better than to move, so I took inventory. Yep, fingers work, toes work, legs work. Good! Shit, I broke my neck. After about 45 seconds one of the spectators ran up and yelled, "He's ALIVE!" I almost shit myself. I asked her what the hell I'd hit and she said, "You know that tree you hit? It fell on you." The last 6" of that damn thing hit me squarely in the back of the head. About 6 months later I found out I'd broken a vertebrae. (Yes, I got x-rayed the next day, but my doc was a quack, I found out later) I got all checked out and all is fine now except for torn ligaments and cartilage damage.

The really scary part to this story is the head-on collision I had in the very next race: *Almost* broke both legs, landed about 7' from the bike, and shattered the course worker's left wrist. All this with a broken neck.

For those of you that don't know: It's so dry here in Colorado that aspen tree's rot at the ground, due to (what little there is) moisture in the soil. "Standing dead" aspens are great firewood and require little work to harvest. All you need, are one motorcycle and one Shoei. ;-)

Ken "Merfman" Murphy