This Rider Logs 50,000 Miles — Despite Spinal Injury

//This Rider Logs 50,000 Miles — Despite Spinal Injury

This Rider Logs 50,000 Miles — Despite Spinal Injury

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.

Billy’s Story

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, 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:

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.

By |2015-04-15T13:14:31+00:00April 12th, 2012|Categories: Editorial/Commentary Articles|17 Comments

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  1. Tony Colombini January 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Hey everyone! We love hearing your feedback on Billy’s story. Here’s a bit of an update. Billy is currently working on a custom motorcycle to then auction and send the profits to the American Diabetes Association. The B.A.D. (Bikers Against Diabetes) Bike Build has begun with a 1980 Harley LowRider and will be built to a custom bobber. You too can be a part of something really, really B.A.D. by sharing the story. Visit for details. We’d like to thank our sponsors Schapiro and Leventhal, So Cal Cycle Swap Meet, K&N Filters and more!

  2. Kevin griz nelson May 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Very inspiring, I am still recovering from a bike accident,( got hit by a cager not paying attention). As soon as I got the go ahead from the doc to get out of the wheelchair and grab some crutches, I started rebuilding my bike. Most folks keep askin why I’m gettin back on it. I can’t wait to get back out there on the road. Billy inspired me to keep pushin.

    • Tony Colombini May 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      THanks for the comment Kevin. I will be sure Billy sees it. Keep on pushin!

  3. j nojd May 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm


  4. Larry Ritchey May 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Good to see more like me. After loosing my left leg, I was told I would never ride on 2 wheels again. I was ask “how long after loosing your leg(bike accident) did you think about riding again. I was laying in the hospital wondering how I was going to shift again. I figured that out and devised a “failsafe” to keep me from falling at a stop. Using that I have helped others to ride when they though they would never ride again.
    Tony, we need to get the word out that there is <almost< no problem that can not be overcome if the desire is there.

    • Tony Colombini May 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      You are absolutely right Larry. Billy found out early on (thank heaven) that the desire and attitude are very important in leading a truly inspired life.

  5. Tom April 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Great read!

  6. Tom April 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Great read.

  7. J&P Cycles April 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    This is a great article.

  8. xanax for depression April 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    You fellas got a FBook fan page? I’m loving all this, hook me up with a alprazolam link and I’ll send you a like 😀

  9. rsarno April 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Excellent story!

    • Tony Colombini April 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks Rsarno! There are plenty of challenges for all of us out there. We (Billy and I) hope that his story inspires everyone to ride.

    • Tony Colombini April 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you Rsarno! Billy and I hope his story inspires others to share their stories!

Comments are closed.