My freshman year of high school was a year to remember. During the summer, my brother and I had some friends out to ride our motorcycles and practice for the race on the next weekend. We had a big track behind our house and everyone came to ride.
We were almost done riding when my brother found a jump that was straight up, so we started to see who could get the highest air. On my brother’s last try he jumped the highest and his foot slipped off of his foot peg and he landed right on it. He acted like nothing happened and went up to the house. Later that day we went swimming and I saw his ankle; it was all black and blue. He could hardly walk on it and finally that night my mom forced him to go to the hospital where they took x-rays. His ankle was fractured in two places. They put two screws in his left ankle and told him he would be on crutches for nine weeks. That meant that he was out for the rest of the season for the District 11/AMA series that we were in.
I had one more race until my family and I were going on vacation. Unfortunately my brother wasn’t going to be able to go to Myrtle Beach because of his ankle. The race was at Reno Raceway; therefore, it is one of the worst tracks. It is nothing but clay dirt, so if it rains it is a slimy, muddy race, and if it is dry it is the dustiest track to race on. It is down towards the Ohio River and West Virginia, which is like an hour and half drive from my house.
On the night before the race, my dad and I are usually working on my bike until midnight, but we got done early since we didn’t have to work on my brother’s bike. The next day we traveled to Reno Raceway. My class starts at nine o’clock, so my family and I usually have to wake up early in the morning and leave. When we pulled in at the gates it was getting hot out and the mini-bike race was starting.
As soon as we picked a spot and parked I unload our trailer and went to sign up for my class. There was a long line to register. When I got up to the line I had to fill out a slip to say if I got hurt I wasn’t allowed to sue the racetrack. Then filled out a slip for what class I in and signed my signature on it. I paid the people that owned the track twenty- five dollars to race.
After I got through signing up my friends and I went to walk the track. We look for hot lines (faster lines when you need to pass someone) and what the track was going to be like to ride on. About twenty minutes before the race I had a banana, and a Gatorade, so I wouldn’t get dehydrated during the race and get cramps.
I was getting ready for the race, putting on all of my gear that protects me, when my dad started up my bike to warm it up and topped it off with fuel. When I was done getting dressed I went out and my brother was sitting in a chair. I grabbed his crutches and walked around on them, telling him, “If you didn’t jump your bike you wouldn’t be on crutches. You could be still racing, but know I’m going to beat you in points, big bro”.
It was time to race, so I gave back his crutches and hopped on my bike. I will admit that I was being really cocky to him, so I told him when I was sitting on my bike, “Look at the bright side you won’t have to wear yourself out today; you can sit back and relax and watch the race”. I took off and went up to the starting line like any other race. We sat on our bikes warming them up and getting ready to start. I was getting nervous like any other race. I was thinking how well I could do and if I could climb up in the point standings since my brother was hurt, which I was in fifth at the time and my brother was ranked second in the point standings.
We were ready to start and it is a dead engine start, so when the flagger holds the green flag up for ten seconds until he drops from his head down to his hip, at which point you start your bike and the race is on. Well when he raised the flag, everything is going through your mind, like if you are going to crash or how well your going to finish, so when he dropped the flag my foot slipped and my bike didn’t start. Now I was dead last out of like twenty some riders. Still, I knew I had plenty of time to get back up front because the race was an hour long.
I was fighting my way back up and was wearing myself out pushing myself to the limit. I stopped for gas and I didn’t know what place I was in until my dad said “you are in the top ten with less than a half hour to go in the race”. It boosted me, and all I can think of in my head was, “I am in better shape than most of the riders, I can do this.” I trained every day, from riding bikes to lifting weights and running, so I could have enough energy at the end of the race to finish strong. I pushed even harder and found my way up to third by the time they raised the white flag, which indicates the final lap. I got around to second and I could see first place. I pushed as hard as I could because I had not won a race that year and I was hungry for a win.
Halfway through the last lap I was on his rear tire when I hit something and I felt my foot go numb. I looked down and saw a rip clear through my boot with blood all over my boot, so I pulled over to the side of the track knowing that the race was over. I pulled my boot off and I looked. It was just dangling there when I pulled off my sock and a piece of muscle or skin barely holding my toe on. My foot was pouring out gooey stuff and blood was going everywhere. I freaked out and started screaming “Help! Help! Help!!!” But I was clear out in the woods. I was out there for at least twenty minutes until the guy that checks the track for injured people came around and found me. All I could think before they came is that I was going to have to get back on my bike and ride out of here. Thankfully, they took me out on a four-wheeler up to the ambulance where I was put on a stretcher. The bandaged me up and lifted me up into the ambulance.
It was the first time I have ever been in an ambulance. They rushed me to Marietta Memorial Hospital. It seemed like three or four people at once were asking me a lot of questions. One person was Chinese and I couldn’t understand him, so I just nodded. I waited two or three hours until they took me back and put me to sleep. I was about to go irate for those two to three hours because I’m not a big fan of hospitals, and if it’s not serious I will not go to the hospital or doctor.
I woke up still having all ten of my toes and had to stay in the hospital the rest of the day so they could keep check on me. I ended up staying overnight and was let out around noon the next day and went home. I had to go to an orthopedic surgeon in Zanesville for checkups every few days. My mom and dad went to Myrtle Beach for vacation and my brother and I stayed at my grandparents’ house. And my brother got revenge on me; I wasn’t allowed leaving the coach or bed. He could crutch around, but I had to keep my foot elevated most of the day. The worst part of the whole thing was that it was still summer and we have a boat. I wasn’t allowed to go on the boat, but my brother could go and I took a lot more from him than what I anticipated.
When I went to the orthopedic surgeon the second time they said they were going to remove my toe. I went to surgery the next day and they put me to sleep. I woke up and it was still there. They told me that they thought it could still make it, which meant my toe would stay on unless it turns the rest of the way black, but they weren’t sure.
The next few weeks they told me that they were going to take it off and they did the same thing over again. Putting me asleep and I would wake up and my toe was still there, so on the third time I told them to take it off because I was tired of going back to the hospital to be put asleep. They finally took my toe off on my right foot, second to the smallest one. I went back for checkups and was on crutches for around three months.
My brother and I were done for the summer and I was done for half the winter. Our racing season was over and I ended up missing part of basketball season. I went back to school still on crutches; watching my basketball team play was hard. I wanted to be out there, but I kind of got recognized for losing a toe. Through the school everyone started to call me “9 Toe Tuck,” a nickname I have had since my freshman year.