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Stepped-Off

Stepped Off book

This is a true story about Steve Pape. Five years ago he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland, following a serious motorbike accident. He spent approximately 4 weeks in a coma and a further two years recovering from his injuries. The following is a short extract of the book he has written in memory of his trip.

My story has taken me over a year to write but it was something that both Carol and I felt needed to be done. Biking was such a big part of my life. I had such great expectations of the biking holiday in Scotland and I still don't have any regrets about going. Unfortunately, the holiday didn't end quite as I would have wanted, as I crashed my motorbike and spent the next several weeks in hospital. It was all very touch and go as to whether I would live or die, but I survived and I'm still here to tell the tale.

Carol often said that she would have benefitted from reading a book like this whilst I was so ill in hospital to give her an idea of what to expect, if and when I recovered. Obviously, everyone is different and not all brain injuries will result in the problems I had. Not everyone will deal with them as we have dealt with them. But this is our story.

Carol and I were married on the 10th of February 2000 at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Tong Village, Leeds. It was a fantastic day. Carol looked amazing and I felt great and everyone had a good time. Both Carol and I couldn?t have asked for anything better. Luckily, the whole day went without a hitch and the next day we went on our honeymoon. It was a two-trip affair, with a weekend in London, then the rest of the week touring around Scotland in a Land Rover Discovery that my parents had hired for us as a wedding gift. It was on our honeymoon that both Carol and I found our love for the Scottish Highlands and the wildlife. (Now we always try to go up to Scotland at least once a year, usually in the winter, as the wildlife is easier to see).

Before we got married, we were both active people. My full-time job was working at a small digital reprographic house. I had worked there for three and a half years. I started working at this company as a normal guy on the bench, but over the next three years I worked up to the position of studio manager, a position I greatly enjoyed.

Carol worked as a practice nurse at our local G.P. practice. At weekends, she also worked nights at St. James Hospital, Leeds, whilst I worked as a doorman at a busy nightclub in Bradford. With most of our spare time taken up with work, what little spare time we did have was spent doing something together. Both of us had a passion for motorbiking, either watching the British Superbike Championship whenever possible, or sailing across to the Isle of Man for a week to watch the annual TT racing.

Ever since 1995, when I got back into biking after a few years break, I had always wanted a Honda Fireblade. At first, the cost of buying one was too high and the insurance for me was unaffordable, so I settled for something smaller and cheaper. I bought myself an eight-year-old 600cc sports motorbike, which was a good starting point to get me reintroduced to biking after a break of four years. I kept the 600cc Kawasaki for a couple of years and then moved up to an 1100cc sports tourer; the Suzuki GSXR 1100cc. This motorbike wasn?t as easy to ride but it gave me lots of experience in riding a big bike and provided me with lots of fun.

In September 1998, I felt like all my birthdays had come at once. I was finally in a position to buy my dream: a Honda Fireblade CBR900RR. For the first couple of months I rode very carefully because I knew that this beast needed to be treated with lots of respect. The following weeks were very interesting, learning how the Fireblade handled. I knew the bike could cope with anything that I could throw at it, so it was up to me to find out just how far I could push myself.

Now that my dream of owning a Fireblade was a reality, my ambition of going on a biking holiday was my next goal. I was reading a magazine article about a group of bikers who went to France for a biking holiday. It looked fantastic and some of the stories told sounded unreal and I wanted some of it. In my usual way I started pestering Carol about going on a bike trip to France but she was having none of it. Luckily for me, Carol knew Graham, who was a biker. Carol was talking to him one day when he mentioned that every year he and a large group of bikers travelled up to Lochearnhead in Scotland for a couple of days. Well, when Carol told me this I was over the moon. As the trip would be four months after our wedding, I managed to persuade Carol to let me go. I couldn't wait.

The night before I was due to set off, Carol and I sat down at the computer and made a couple of contact cards with next of kin and other emergency phone numbers on it. I later gave one of these cards to Graham, who made a comment, You won't need these, or something to that effect. Little did we know.

On the morning of the 12th, I was filled with excitement. My bike was ready, I was ready. The Fireblade had just been serviced and dyno-jetted and, with a new exhaust and a new rear tyre, this bike was prepared for speed! With a double-bubble windscreen for comfort and a speed camera radar detector for peace of mind, my Honda Fireblade CBR900RR and I were ready to go.

I had a short ride from Pudsey to Rawdon, where I met my two new mates, Graham, who rode a Honda Blackbird, and Tony, who was a friend of Graham's and rode a Suzuki Hayabusa. From Rawdon, it was on to Pool to meet up with the rest of the bikers that were to join us on the trip up to Lochearnhead in Scotland. There were about thirty bikes, so we couldn't all ride in one large group. For safety (and so we didn't get lost) we rode in single file; the person behind the lead bike (the trip organiser) stopping at any roundabouts or road junctions to point the way for the following riders. When the last bike had passed, he would then join the back of the line. This way, everyone took turns in directing the following riders.

Unfortunately, you will have to buy the book to read the full story, there is also a website, www.steppedoff.co.uk.


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