This Rider Logs 50,000 Miles — Despite Spinal Injury
April 12, 2012 | By: Tony Colombini
Editor’s Note: One thing we really love here at J&P Cycles is a good motorcycle story with a great ending. This story was submitted to us by Tony Colombini, of Garden Grove, Calif., whose son Billy inspired his family, friends and many others.
By Tony Colombini
Twenty years ago at age of 18, Billy was a passenger in a truck that overturned on a back road in upstate New York. For more than three hours he lay in the darkness in a ditch waiting for help. As he waited, like anyone of us, he tried desperately to get himself up and out of the ditch. But even as he struggled to move, he realized that something wasn’t quite right.
So you can imagine how tough it was to get a phone call in the middle of the night out here in Southern California, telling us that our boy was in a hospital 5,000 miles away with a spinal cord injury.
His is a lumbar spine (L1) injury, and of course the doctors all said Billy would never walk again — let alone ride his Harley. With the utmost determination and more than a year of therapy, he showed the doctors that he could indeed walk with the assistance of forearm crutches.
Fortunately he was able to retain the muscle on the top of his thighs and, with braces on his ankles and knees, he can throw his feet forward to walk and bring his feet up to shift and brake his ’82 FLH that features a Champion sidecar.
Since 2004, Billy has logged more than 50,000 miles on his Harley Road King with HD Sidecar. We use his bike as a test ride for BlacktopMagazine.com, our web publication and e-zine. The site covers hot rods, Harleys and Kustom Kulture — things we’re pretty passionate about out here in Southern California.
Recently, we tested a cool shifter from Widow Maker Industries. That’s where we took the photo posted on your Facebook page. Billy’s bike is fully customized with a built-up motor (he won’t say how much, but I’m guessing it’s well over 103ci) with S&S Hi Compression Heads, a Baker six-speed, Barnett Scorpion clutch, Sampson tru-dual exhaust, Corbin seat, Custom shift linkage, and foot pegs. Our buddy Bret painted his rig to match some of Billy’s haunted cowboy scene tattoos.
More good news. We were goofing around in the garage the other day and Billy decided to try and ride the little Baja Desert Runner we have. He got on it, rolled the throttle and down the road he went. Once around the block his grin was ear to ear as he yelled: “This is the first time I’ve ridden two wheels in 20 years!” Since then he’s been on his mom’s pink scooter, and even took my beach cruiser out for a ride. Such determination. We couldn’t be prouder. To have overcome so much and then to be an inspiration to us all is something that we would never have dreamed.
Where there’s a will there’s a way, never say die, keep on…keepin’ on. We hear these phrases a lot, but they’re rolling through Billy’s head all the time as he rolls on the throttle and the miles build up beneath the rubber.
View more pictures of Billy and his ride at: http://www.blacktopmagazine.com/?page_id=864
Editor’s Note: Despite our rough exterior, those of us in the motorcycle game are a sappy lot. So if you’ve got a story that will warm the hearts of our customers and readers, please feel free to submit it to http://facebook [at] jpcycles [dot] com.