LIMBitless Possibilities…

February 10, 2015 by

It is my hope that readers were able to check out the lead-in article to the Amp’d Rider Project from the last issue. This project has given me more insight and education than I could have imagined when I first started. What was a heartfelt cause to share and enlighten others has become an extraordinary endeavor. I have interviewed over ten amputees that resumed their passion for riding motorcycles after losing their limbs, and many more interviews in the pipeline. In addition, several professionals have joined the mission of the Amp’d Rider Project. The YouTube series has received a great many subscribers and social media followers are intrigued with the information they are receiving. The stories of amputation range from illnesses to accidents and the amputees are very diverse in professions.

Kendall Hill was on a Boy Scout excursion, watching his son repels for the first time. Like most parents, he wanted that perfect picture. He took just one too many steps and the ledge gave way sending Kendall down a deep cliff. Being that the troop was in a somewhat remote location, it took over two hours for Kendall to get flown off to a hospital. A combination of injuries and time created the need to amputate part of his leg. He climbed out of that tragedy to not only be here for his children but to ride again. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 002 – with Kendall Hill)

Kendall Hill

Roger Chan has served in many professional and political roles during his life. He was a man that had earned a good living and had life in order so to speak, with a retirement and college fund for his kids. On his birthday, which was also Thanksgiving, he was attending a local giving project to help feed less fortunate folks. A motorist hit Roger and as he slid, trapped under his Indian, he felt his leg being ground off. He say, “…like putting your leg in a pencil sharpener.” Rather quickly, Roger and his family discovered just how costly such a tragedy can be. Blowing through nearly all the funds he had worked so hard to preserve for his family, Roger found himself starting over in more ways than just walking. He now Rolling Thunder Roadhouse in Texas and naturally, he rides again. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 003 – with Roger Chan)

Roger Chan’s Rolling Thunder Roadhouse

Erik Peterson of C. H. Martin Company is my current leg man in Georgia. I find Erik to be a very attentive prosthetist that truly listens to the patient and goes well beyond common professional courtesy to ensure that I have all I need for the best quality of life. Interesting to me is that southern boy Erik graduated from Northwestern University in Chicago; where I lived for 21 years. Erik was born premature and his femur was not fully developed at birth. His knee is only a few inches from his hip and his foot is smaller than it should be naturally. Though he is not an amputee, this birth defect means that Erik has been wearing prosthetics his whole life. As such, Erik can personally relate to the difficulties and trials that go with limb challenges. I have heard time and again from amputees that their prosthetist doesn’t understand them and often times they feel as if they are in ill-fitted prosthetics. Erik does not let a patient leave in pain or with a prosthetic that is less than a phenomenal fit. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 004 – with Erik Peterson)

Erik Peterson and The B.R.O.A.D.

Dave and Becka were on a date in their fairly new relationship and enjoying a beautiful day of riding. In a flash, as many of us have heard before, a deer jumped into their path of travel. The destruction was devastating. Dave suffered many injuries including a partial leg amputation. Becka suffered pretty severe traumatic brain injury. For many months these two went through surgeries and recovery, all the while remaining together as a couple. They will both say that together is the only way they could have made it through the ordeal. Each of them helped the other with their weaknesses and built up each other’s strengths. They agree that going through that tragedy and recovery together grew their bond. And now, Mr. and Mrs. Bledsoe ride again and help extensively with the Patriot Guard in their area. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 005 – with Dave & Becka Bledsoe)

Mr. and Mrs. Bledsoe Ride Into the Future

Vicki Bishop straddled her motorcycle and headed to work one morning like a thousand mornings before. She is a well-seasoned rider and really doesn’t remember exactly what went wrong. She only remembers watching her motorcycle cross the center line directly in front of a semi-truck. Though she was able to talk to first responders her memory of the incident is vague and she had no idea that her leg was severed at the scene. Vicki had just been dating a fellow for a few weeks when her crash occurred but with family sensitivity to her circumstances, the fellow became estranged. It wasn’t until Vicki got back to living on her own that she was able to reunite with her friend. It was he that helped Vicki back into her passion for riding. He took Vicki to a rally, put her on the back of his bike, and helped her regain her confidence. As she grew in confidence, she grew in determination. Her fellow and another friend helped Vicki modify a trike so that she could get her knee back in the breeze. Yep, just one knee – she is an above knee amputee and thus a two wheeled bike was not conducive to her situation. She says she still rides everywhere she possibly can. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 006 – with Vicki Bishop)

Vickie Bishop, Rollin’ On!

Steve Chamberland, former pro-wrestler and leg amputee is a man for whom I am ever so thankful to have in my life. On a Memorial Day motorcycle ride, Steve lost part of his leg when a motorist hit him and his passenger. Steve is a far-out kind of guy and even with no prosthetic he took a buddy’s bike for a spin just a few weeks following the loss of his leg. As the years passed Steve wrestled professionally and started a construction company. But it wasn’t until a personal appearance with some of wrestling’s biggest names that he truly found his calling. Hearing of a young girl that lost her leg, Steve gathered his buddies together to try and raise money for the girl. As Jimmy Hart “Mouth of the South” tells it, “… you lit up when you gave that little girl her leg.” From that gesture of caring and the work it took to raise those funds, Steve formed The charity, is based purely on donations and has very little overhead. While I still lay in the hospital in Minnesota a friend of mine from Illinois connected with Steve and explained my crash and lack of medical coverage. Steve reached out to me and offered help from so that I could get a prosthetic when the time came. I nearly choke on tears every time I think about what my life would be today if I had not received helped from I would not have walked so soon, I would not have been able to travel in my truck and trailer through the country just 8 months after losing my leg, and I certainly would not have been able to ride a motorcycle again so soon. I could have done it all “eventually” but thanks to Steve, his supporters, and; I was able to get back to my passion which made me feel whole again. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 007 – with Steve Chamberland)

Steve and The B.R.O.A.D.

Ryan Hutchinson was a truck driver and making his scheduled route when something went terribly wrong with the truck. Ryan’s arm was pinned and despite rescue and surgical efforts he became a left arm amputee. He is a man of many talents and amazing determination. Ryan began almost immediately to modify his motorcycle because he wasn’t going to give up his passion. He regained his strength and fortitude to continue playing hockey, golf, and of course riding and working on motorcycles. I have heard many amputees say that their family and friends were distraught or even outright forbidding when they spoke of riding again. Ryan has no hesitation in saying that his family and friends were a huge driving force in helping him recover and get on with living life to the fullest. His friends helped him with bike modifications and his family supported him in all his endeavors. Ryan now has a motorcycle related product in production that I cannot disclose but I will say that it is innovative and I for one anxiously await its release. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 008 – with Ryan Hutchinson)

Ryan Hutchinson and his scooter

Scott Shephard enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 18. The day before he was to report to basic training he and some buddies had one last gathering. In the minds of young men, consequence does not always take precedence. After several alcohol beverages Scott climbed on the back seat of a motorcycle while his buddy prepared to drive them for a ‘short ride’. That ride was indeed short and with a guard-rail winning the battle, Scott’s left arm is now short as well. Scott is a man that today will say honestly he went through hell time and again through the years trying to cope with his circumstances. The self-destruction that took his arm continued until he was 27. It was then that he found faith and began a college education. Though he rode a motorcycle throughout that time, it wasn’t until he had healed himself on the inside did he truly regain his passion for the ride. Scott is an accomplished golfer and an intriguing philosopher with whom I personally enjoy speaking and debating. The only problem I can find wrong with Scott is that he hasn’t taken that new motorcycle out of the state of Florida. I say that in jest because I already know that he is planning a great many new adventures somewhat similar to what I did with my truck, trailer, and bike. I certainly look forward to following his journey. (YouTube: Amp’d Rider Project – Episode 009 – with Scott Shephard)

Scott Shephard and His Sporty

Donnie Huffman of Huffman Performance and Restoration in Florida shared with me his lifelong involvement with motorcycles. His Dad had always been a rider and Donnie and his sister followed in that path. He says that his poor Mom went through the ringer with all of them, from long hours in the garage to crashes and broken bones. In a strange twist of fate, Donnie’s Dad suffered tremendously in one particular crash and through the settlement of that case was able to buy his first Harley Davidson dealership. Though his Mom is gone now, his Dad still rides and own the dealership. Donnie has gone on to start his own shop and is a Harley drag racer. Scott Shephard (above) has known Donnie many years and it is Donnie that has done modifications on several of Scott’s bike to accommodate his missing arm. All in good fun, Donnie says of Scott, “…he’s a pain in the ass but I like being able to help him ride.” Donnie is one of those guys that born to be an engineer / mechanic. He simply looks at a problem and sees a solution manifest. With the different bikes that Scott has had over the years, each presents a different scenario for making the controls all fit the right side. As I learned from Scott’s story and talking to Donnie, there is no hurdle you cannot overcome if you just put your mind and heart to it.

Donnie Huffman – Harley Dragger

The interviews I have conducted thus far have been nothing short of spectacular. From the amputees that never gave up on themselves, I have learned a great deal and shared a lot of laughs. From the professionals that modify motorcycles and make their living in the medical world, I have learned what dedication it takes to serve others. And from the online followers, I have seen that folks really do care, they just don’t always understand a particular situation because it has not affected them directly. I have received a plethora of messages ranging from, “… thank you for doing this…” to “…you and your project has given me the courage to try riding again…”

It is my hope that this project will affect all types of people. Whether you are an amputee or a whole body person, this message will educate and inform. If you know or care for an amputee or other type of disabled person, you will understand better how to help. For those that are professionals, you will hear varied stories about how much we appreciate what you do.

The introductory episode of the Amp’d Rider Project was publicized on January 26, 2015. The interviews continue and are publicized weekly on Monday. Should you desire to subscribe to The B.R.O.A.D. ™ YouTube channel you can find the full length interviews in the playlist entitled: Amp’d Rider Project. I cannot say how long this project will continue but as long as there is interest, I will do my best to keep putting my best foot forward for all of you.

Wishing you all,
Peace, Hugs, and Pipes that Rumble ™
Ursula aka The B.R.O.A.D. ™

Proud Owners of Fox Creek Leather Products

January 28, 2015 by

Jeff and Susan Snicale

We have been proud owners of Fox Creek Leather products for many years now. It started with the purchase of a vest for our youngest son. Since then we have purchased the Classic II jackets, chaps, gloves, belts, another vest, and most recently a windshield bag. We have never been unhappy with our purchases!

The jackets and chaps have provided protection for more than 50,000 miles and continue to look great even though a little “seasoned.” I wear the Classic II year round and find it to be comfortable most of the time (in high humidity and temperatures it usually comes off for lighter weight wear). Most recently we took a 4,700 mile ride out west covering 10 states and 7 national parks/monuments. The weather, as well as the riding conditions in general, changed on a regular basis. Only a few times did we need to take the jackets off.

When it was hot, the venting system works well to keep air flowing. When it was cold, we had ample space to slip on our heated liners. In those “in between” times, the removable liner was a good option and my Elk Skin gauntlets worked wonderfully to close off the sleeves of my jacket in those times when I needed just a touch less airflow.

Though our leather is heavy, we always know that we have good protection from just about whatever comes our way. We are very thankful that we do not have a crash testimonial to share, but if that time comes we are sure our leathers will do their job to protect us.

In closing, I have to give the staff their dues. They have always been very friendly and responsive to our needs. We make it a habit to tell people about Fox Creek whenever they ask about our leather (which is often).

Jeff and Susan Snicale

White Bear Lake, MN

Get a Leg Up on 2015…

January 15, 2015 by

Ursula Sitting On Bike

For folks like me, that have stared the reaper in the face, we are often more aware and more thankful for little things, like the calendar turning a date. Some of us think, “WOW, I almost wasn’t here today.” And some of us go a step further and think, “OH YEAH, what can I do next?”

We all know that the passion for riding a motorcycle brings with it certain inherent dangers. As motorcyclists many of us take riding classes, practice our emergency maneuvers, keep our eyes peeled and constantly scanning, but sometimes – sometimes – it’s not enough. Sometimes circumstances, happen-chance, and other people’s choices leave us scarred for life, in the worst of cases, take a life. I have always been aware of the dangers both small and large that accompany driving a motorcycle, but it was not until somebody changed my life that I fully began to understand so very many new things.

For those that are not aware, here is my short story. After losing a corporate job in 2012 and having little luck of finding another with reasonable salary, I made the insane and overwhelming awesome decision to be homeless. Well, at least that’s how I used to tell it. I sold nearly everything I owned, I ramped up my Virtual Assistant business, The Write Hand; I loaded my dog, laptop, and peripherals onto my 1995 Harley Davidson Sportster 883. I left Illinois in February 2013 to tour the United States and grow my business. The months I spent traveling on my motorcycle, sleeping in the woods or abandon buildings, and meeting folks from all walks of life along my path, were some of the most freeing days in my entire life. Never for a single second do I regret what I did, not even as I laid in that ditch.

In July 2013 on a very hot 97 degree day with beautiful blue skies above, I drove across the Wisconsin state line into Minnesota. It was about 2pm and I had chosen my route based on the St. Croix River; I knew that come evening it would provide me options for making camp that night and I always love camping near water. I had only been in Minnesota for a few miles. I stopped at the Welcome Sign to take a picture but realized my phone memory was full, so off I went. Well, I didn’t get far. My route was a beautiful two lane road through farm lands along the river. There were green fields, cows, silos, and winding curves – winding curves…

As I headed into a deep left curve a semi-truck approached in his lane. As always, I gently moved right a little, always giving a bit more room for a semi in case they fudge slightly. And there it was, barreling at me at a speed I learned was well over the limit – a young man in a car was trying to pass the semi-truck and was headed straight at me in MY LANE – MY FREAKIN LANE!! I was traveling about 55 mph and the other vehicle between 70 and 80. Every time I take my memory back to that place, one thing permeates my brain – the young man and I screamed simultaneously, “No, No, No!” He did a great deal to help and aid as I lay in that ditch and for the next half hour the end of my life was more than apparent to me and to the support personnel buzzing all around the scene. With my insides on the outside, we all knew that I was going to die and that was that. I thanked God for all that he had given me, thanked Him for letting me accomplish my dream, and asked Him to take care of my son and granddaughter. With a great deal of vigor in that half hour or so, I was eventually loaded into a helicopter bound for Regions Hospital in St. Paul. A lifetime ago, the last thing I saw was a helicopter door open and blue skies and sunshine spilling onto my face, and then I died.

Ursula in Hospital

Yippee for amazing surgeons and modern technology because I was not intended to stay dead. I could go on about the number of hours and surgeries, the blood content of my body being replaced three times over, all the drugs, the pain, the nightmares, the rage, the pity, and the Why Me questions.

Motorcycle riders are particularly at risk for losing legs in a crash involving another vehicle. If you think about it logically, our entire body is exposed and if another vehicle comes in contact with us it is most likely going to strike somewhere in the leg area. A vehicular crash is only one simple way to become an amputee. There are medical issues like cancer and diabetes that take limbs quite often. Work related accidents and even birth defects leave folks missing part or all of a limb or limbs.

Ursula Riding

Being a motorcyclist is not very unique these days; it seems there are motorcycles everywhere now. And being an amputee isn’t rare either. But how many amputee motorcyclists have you seen? Perhaps more than you even realize. Whether born amp’d or made amp’d, as long as your heart still beats, there is a chance at living a dream, loving a passion, and doing more than you ever thought possible.

I can tell you one cliché that has and always will ‘set me off’; it’s when somebody says, “You can do everything you used to do and more.” Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? That can be questionable. Average folks see Olympic athletes and TV show stars with amputations doing amazing things and they assume that ALL amputees can do these things. That is NOT so. Riddle you this Batman… Prosthetics cost a lot of money and the more ‘tricked out’ they are, the more they cost. Even with health insurance it can be exorbitant to pay our out of pocket portion for such a piece of durable medical equipment. This doesn’t even take into consideration other health issues that may need attention. And do not be a fool to think that if somebody else causes an injury that their insurance will suddenly make all the problems go away. In most cases, folks don’t have enough coverage on their auto policy to come close to paying for lost wages for months or years, hundreds of thousands in medical bills, and costs associated with future care. This is putting it lightly because there are only so many pages in this magazine.

There is no place for backward thinking when there is so much more that is bigger and better waiting for us ahead. Just 18 months ago this horrific experience changed my life FOREVER. In the time that has passed since, I have learned a great deal about being an amputee, about my own inner strength, and about the plight that others have faced before me. I have talked to others with physical impairments and have helped them choose amputation over unending surgeries and pain. I have shared with whoever will listen and I have listened to whoever will share. I have found a greater respect for myself and for so many others that I didn’t really “see” before. Most of us realize that until a certain thing affects you personally, you cannot fully comprehend the entire breadth of a situation.

And so I welcome 2015 in its enormity and potential, with the support of my family, my friends, and my social media followers that all helped me rise up and not start over, but rather START NEW! This article is a brief look at my personal tragedy and loss of limb which I share openly. The PTSD, nightmares, and struggles continue but get weaker as I grow stronger. My physical abilities improve a bit more with most days and I am functioning in a somewhat regular lifestyle. There remain a great many challenges and things that have been altered terrifically which I am still attempting to understand and overcome.

So many folks don’t understand the daily functionality of an amputee, they may not understand how mentally taxing such an experience can be, and they likely do not understand why on earth somebody like me would ever think of getting back on a motorcycle.

This article serves as a lead-in story for a project I have taken on to raise awareness of what amputee life is like, the trials, and the triumphs ~ most particularly, I am focusing on Amp’d Motorcyclists. I will be interviewing verbally many amputees that have lost limbs and gone on to continue their passion for motorcycle riding. We will hear all about their personal amputation, the modifications to bikes, the things that challenged them when they began riding again, and much more. The project will be followed with an article of summary from these great stories.
If you are or know an amputee motorcyclist, please reach me to participate in this project.

Wishing you all Peace, Hugs, and Pipes that Rumble ™
Ursula aka The B.R.O.A.D. ™

Worthy Centerpiece of my Riding Gear

November 28, 2014 by

Drifter Jacket

I very rarely have the time or the inclination to write a review on one of many products that I purchase on the internet, but in searching for a quality leather jacket I would eventually wind up – and keep coming back to, the Fox Creek Leather website. Once on the website and having read all the great reviews I was compelled to purchase the Drifter Leather Jacket, and thus since it was the reviews that helped me decide I thought it was only fitting that I comment on my purchase as well.

Having read all the reviews I wanted to test this jacket and see for myself if all these glowing reviews were legit. I thought there has to be a downside, with so many positive reviews? So I made a point to try and find something about this jacket that I could critique, and happily, I can not find one. This is probably the best money I spent on anything motorcycle related. I followed the fitting chart and the fit is dead-on. Even though I followed the measuring instructions I was worried that I measured wrong but obviously from years of doing this the people at Fox Creek correctly deduced my size and sent me a jacket that looks – no, is – custom-tailored.
Steven and Rosemary from CIRENCESTER, Great Britain
Steven and Rosemary from Great Britain

The delivery box weighed 9 pounds! Think of the amount of leather that makes a jacket 9 pounds. In fact my petite wife had trouble picking up the box. She thought there were motorcycle parts in it. The box had been sitting in the hot 100 degree California desert heat inside a hot UPS truck. When I opened the box the leather was hot and that rich leather smell engulfed the living room and I and my wife’s senses. Having read the reviews and seeing such high marks and solid ratings the bar was set very high and so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was worried my wife would be upset that I bought a $500 leather motorcycle jacket off the internet but I can attest that the reviews are correct when they say you can tell this is a quality jacket made from hand-selected leather.

“This is a nice jacket!” my wife said and left me alone to admire my purchase. I guess she could tell from the look on my face that I needed alone-time. I knew then it passed the wife-approval test. Trying on the Drifter for the first time the design for this jacket has the zipper offset so it is like wrapping yourself into the leather and then zipping yourself into it.
Geoff wearing his DrifterGeoff wearing his Drifter
In comparison I was issued a handmade (in Honduras or some such place) leather jacket for work several years ago and thought it was a decent leather jacket for the price (free). The Drifter jacket is twice as thick and more than twice as heavy. Also I have seen many of my coworkers\riding group buddies’ “leather” jackets either start cracking, fading, or bleeding out in one California riding season. I can safely say that no one in either group has the same type of leather that this jacket is made from.

So I got the jacket in time for the 2014 California summer riding season. In the summer I ride about a 1200 mile a month combination of commute, long-distance cruising, and motorcycle-camping. I start out in 90 – 100 degree heat (average temp in the summer in the High Desert\Apple Valley\Death valley area). I also drive south down to Los Angeles\Orange County\San Diego area where the temps drop down to 60 and 70 degrees. I also ride at night and the temperatures can drop to the low 50’s and 60’s as well.

I am very sensitive to cold in my old age and I can say that with the removable lining I was not suffering from the layering game I usually play. If time is more important than money and I usually spend about ten minutes before a ride looking through my tour-pak and layering thermal or cold weather gear; with the Drifter I put it on and go. How much is that worth? I also have a lot more room in my bike luggage now too. I wore the Drifter with all the vent zippers open when it was about 100 degrees and found the temp inside and outside the jacket equalized so I was hot but not uncomfortable but that is one of the properties of leather that make it ideal jacket material. I also wore it in that 50 – 60 degree cold mountain air that bites you to the bone when you drive through it, and I estimate the Drifter with its neck-warmer is equal to about 3 layers of cold weather gear.

With the liner in I was able to power through an area I normally have to stop and add a few layers if I didn’t already do so. On my Road Glide with my Drifter jacket on in that cold I felt twenty years younger and unstoppable! How much is that worth? The two vent\front pockets also make this almost like a military jacket, I was able to carry my daughter’s full-size iPad that she forgot at my house in the right side pocket since I didn’t want the Harley vibration to break it if I left it in the luggage or tour-pak area.

Again I can’t find anything to critique. With the Drifter jacket I notice many people look at me and do double-takes (it is Southern California after all). They did not do this before but I surmise it is because some people can recognize quality when they see it. Just like art or coffee when people are used to graffiti or swill they are surprised when they taste or see something gourmet; the quality and workmanship found in this jacket is something I now look forward to showing off when I wear it.

After riding for just a few weeks with the Drifter I want to say this jacket is the king and all others are poor imitations or are standing in the shadows paying homage. In their wildest dreams could other leather makers match Fox Creek so I guess they just gave up and out-sourced and won’t even bother competing. (My wife even made a (bad) joke that I should stock up on Fox Creek leather so if they ever decide to go out of business I can turn around and sell it for double the price.

Needless to say the Drifter jacket has become the centerpiece of my riding gear. I am looking to purchase the gauntlet gloves and a set of chaps (I notice my hands and legs are colder now so I guess they are going through leather-envy or leather-withdrawal is that is possible). Look out for those reviews since I will probably extend my riding season into November or December with that gear.

So if you are serious about your motorcycle gear and particular about the quality and workmanship Fox Creek is probably the only game in town – in the whole U. S. even, being the last American-Made product that has a lifetime warranty. I can’t see a down-side to purchasing from them. If I can be disappointed it is remembering suffering through all those past rides with substandard gear, and buying thermal or cold weather gear that is now unnecessary, and after finding Fox Creek hesitating for so long before buying from them.

So after all these years I can finally cross one item off my bucket list: buy the best leather jacket you can find and try wearing it out! Fox Creek is now my go-to source for leather gear. Do your own research eventually you will find your way back here anyway so save yourself some time and just buy it now. You will not be disappointed.

By Scully from Barstow, CA


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