“I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m definitely spiritual after this………I was bleeding to death in a field but because the church was open my friend was able to call for help.” - Amanda “Buffchest” Sundvor 50cc’s of adrenaline and nothing but a back wheel to ride on Amanda fell in love with motorcycles at a young age. Something we all try to feel time and time again after that first time we set off on a bike. As a young woman she did not have a bike of her own but found herself riding on the back of a friend’s bike in rural Colorado. The rider sped high above the speed limit only to arrive at a stop sign too quickly. Amanda, who had only the control of feeling free on the back of the bike, was then thrown up and over the rider who lost control of his brakes. Her first injury was to her hand, which hit a stop sign post crushing her knuckles and dislocating the hand from her wrist. She then flew far from the road colliding with a wire fence pulling five fence posts out of the ground dragging them thirty feet; had she not been wearing a helmet that day things would have ended up differently. She suffered severe lacerations to her hip, chest, neck, and shattered her pelvic bone. A nearby church was unlocked and thankfully help was on the way. The recovery was long and brutal, including surgeries, staples, and stitching. This accident is still haunting her to this day. Doctors just recently fused the knuckles on her hand due to multiple reconstructions that wore out over time. The fiery passion for all things two wheeled still burns bright for Amanda. Today she rides her father’s bike, a 1980 Harley Davidson iron head, in honor of his passing.
“I’ll take a bike wreck over a bad breakup any day” - Arun Sharma Starting out in Hawaii as a child wanting nothing more than to be free on two wheels, Arun Sharma found himself taking his dad’s scooter out on Sunday morning paper runs at a young age. Later, on an ‘87 Magna in Mesa AZ in 118 degree tire melting weather wearing no gear, Arun was struck by a car that was counting lights through an intersection. He was thrown over the hoods of three cars and landed on his head. He was wearing a helmet fortunately. Arun’s back and shoulder were broken, but the most painful part of the accident was his arm that was literally cooked by the heat of the asphalt. His recovery was excruciatingly painful and involved countless hours a day for three years cleaning and dressing his burns until they healed. He has since then become the GM of Portland’s MotoCorsa Ducati headquarters where he is blessed with being able to ride pretty much every bike imaginable!
“I’m a combat vet. I’ve been to Iraq. I’ve been injured, but not to this extent. Seeing myself and realizing how fucked up I was from this accident was the worst.” - Chad Walter Chad rides a 1965 Lambretta Silver Special scooter. Cut off by a van in the city, Chad experienced a severe accident wearing little to no gear. His scooter hit the side of the van and knocked him unconscious. He suffered a severe concussion, which led to a relapse of his PTSD from Iraq. He awoke from the accident to his wrists burning on the exhaust. He now continues to ride six months later after his recovery. He is an advocate for wearing the correct gear and is still getting the rush of going 70mph on 10 inch tires.
“As a big guy it makes me feel like a bird. It’s weightless man. I’m a big boy and when I ride I don’t feel my weight and gravity. For me, it’s moving fast with ease.” - Christopher Lee Christopher has been riding for many years and has ridden many types of bikes. While riding in New Mexico he went over an unavoidable cattle guard in the road and didn’t make the grate. The results of his accident were not light. His leg was broken and twisted 180 degrees. His surgery included multiple titanium screws to set his leg back in place. He spent 8 months being helpless in a wheel chair recovering. Since his leg injuries, he has recovered and continued his passion for riding as well as contributing his towing services specifically to the motorcycle community.
“When you’re at the edge you can’t move. When you’re at the edge you’re really racing” -Doc BrownEugene “Doc” Brown refers to racing as “what fun….a hell of a sickness”. He has been racing for 50 years and riding even longer. Doc has raced with the likes of Giacomo Agostini, Paul Smart, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Randy Mamola, Bubba Shobert, and many more great racers. In 1989 at the Laguna Seca Moto GP, he raced as the only privateer to make the grid. His most notable crash was at Laguna Seca where he tried to pass two riders, in a full drift through the corner, which were about to crash. To avoid them in full tuck he slid out and the rest is unclear but his hand was severed almost completely from his arm. The hand was restored and he continued to ride. Doc says that he thinks about racing all the time. Even when his back hurts, as soon as he gets to the track and the adrenaline is pumping he forgets about all the pain. There is no end in sight he continues to ride to this day
“I’m either too tough or too dumb to die I’m not sure which one.” - Richard E Jones If the first word out of a child’s mouth is Kawasaki you know they are going to love motorcycles forever. In the case of Richard Jones it is true. His affinity for two wheels is what gives him lust for life. While falling in love with his first Ducati, a 796 Dark Hypermotard, Richard was struck by a Ford F550 that was turning out of a graveyard. The truck had a winch on the front which tore his leg off. He lost his leg from the knee down, but continues to ride almost every day with a prosthetic. Death has been something he has avoided multiple times, and as one great poet said, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”.
“The worst part was coming home and sitting in a wheelchair staring out the window on a sunny day watching motorcycles go by wishing that was me.” - Nick Gilmer As long as there is air to breathe Nick Gilmer will be riding motorcycles on this planet. As for love, he found it as a young boy, seeing the world from two wheels for the first time atop the tank of his father’s bike. Over the years he worked as a motorcycle mechanic and was picked up by Ducati North America as a Ducati tech intern. Back and forth, between dirt and street riding and back to dirt, Nick became paralyzed from the stomach down after he was thrown from his dirt bike rupturing his T12 vertebrae. Sitting in a hospital bed for 3 months, Nick was told he would never walk again. With this in mind he did not let devastating news keep him down. The dream of road racing is still something he strives to accomplish every day. He now continues his passion for road racing as a paraplegic. Despite these obstacles he is an inspiration to us alL.
“I have broken countless fingers and toes, most of my ribs, sternum, left knee cap shattered, my neck, multiple concussions, both wrists, my elbow, my nose, my cheek bone, I think that’s it but I’m probably forgetting a few injuries.” - Lory Spencer AKA Shevil Knievel Living, breathing, and riding motorcycles, this is how we would all like to experience the world of motorcycles. Lory, known to her friends as, Shevil Knievel (nickname given to her by her surgeon), has been riding for over thirty years. She should be an inspiration to anyone that calls themselves a rider of anything with two wheels. While riding her 1972 Norton Combat she was run off the road by a car full of kids. Making a quick decision to not run into a bus stop full of people, Lory took the “safer” way out and jumped a curb on the other side of the road running through a row of news paper boxes. She was thrown from her bike, which ran through a cyclone fence, as she proceeded to hit a cement pole head first. Astonishingly enough she was back riding her bike within less than a month. She rode around San Francisco for a couple of months after the accident, finding out months later that she had been riding with a broken neck that was never diagnosed. This is just one of the many triumphs Lory has overcome. At 54 she is still blasting the streets on her 1971 Triumph Bonneville Tiger Hybrid named “Puddles”.
“Whether you ride a bike or know someone who does everyone has a story to tell.” - David Frost Rise Above is an ongoing study of people, by David Frost, that looks at and celebrates individual’s drives to keep going and doing what they love. Open submissions were held, interviews began, and the stories came rushing in, each one completely unlike the one before, fresh and new. The goal is to compile stories from all over the country and create a book one day that will honor the glories and experiences shared by the people who live and breathe motorcycles.