“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

—George Burns

Birthdays used to be full of big dreams and far-off aspirations as milestone years – 16, 18, 21, 30, 40 – were clicked off. Today is yet another anniversary of my birth, and I’m realizing that my outlook on life and living has been metamorphosing.

I was jarred into this transformation two weeks ago when I fell and broke my hip. Yes, my hip – such a typical injury for old people that it’s become a cliche. Okay, so I didn’t fracture the bone slipping on spilled Metamucil or anything, but neither was it anything glorious like a lowside while trying to outbrake another racer for a roadracing championship.

The origin of my injury became somewhat controversial. I had taken my kid out for a spin on her new inline skates at our local park. As a former hockey player, I’m quite adept at rollerblading, and I was enjoying the graceful feeling of arcing a corner while skating backward on a handball court – it’s a lean-into-a-turn feeling akin to riding motorcycles. Then, suddenly, a stray rock removed all grace from my lean, and I crashed down on my left hip. There was pain, of course, but I’d been hurt worse. However, some yet-undetermined damage to my chassis prevented me from getting back to my feet.

Duke’s Den: Risk/Reward

So I call up my wife to tell her to dust off my old walker and bring it to the park for me. A fracture to the femoral neck of my hip required three new screws to be added to my internal hardware collection and two nights in the hospital. It also forced me to bow out of a much-anticipated shootout in which we’d be riding sporty bikes to Monterey and back.

I began to hate rollerblades, and the injury elicited some internal controversy for me. Is an activity like inline skating too dangerous for a dude past middle age? Skateboards? And, if so, how old does one have to be before hanging up their moto card? That’s a question I hadn’t pondered during my first 40 years of riding, and it has profound ramifications for what is expected for and from a well-considered life.

Closing up my hip required my first foray into staples…

Closing up my hip required my first foray into staples…

Dirt riding is among the most fun things that can be done with clothes on, and it’s how I fell in love with motorcycles, so I certainly can’t give that up. After all, riding off-road doesn’t have to involve pushing limits to exceedingly high risk factors. Riding motocross, however, poses more frequent threats to bones, so perhaps I don’t need to bring my screwed-up hip to another MX track.

I’ve largely kept away from motocross since I exploded my ankle at Glen Helen back in 2003 after coming up short on a double and landing on the face of the next jump. Four surgeries and six long months of non-weight-bearing non-action were tough to take, but I was at least able to avoid the amputation idea that was bandied about when my wounds were painfully slow to heal. Thirteen years later, I’m still getting physiotherapy to treat range of motion restricted by about 70%.

Just five months after demolishing my ankle, and still with a walking cast on my leg (necessitating the odd oversized footwear), I was riding Ortega Highway at the domestic launch of Ducati’s 2003 Multistrada. I had to keep lifting my right foot off the peg so it wouldn’t drag in corners.

Just five months after demolishing my ankle, and still with a walking cast on my leg (necessitating the odd oversized footwear), I was riding Ortega Highway at the domestic launch of Ducati’s 2003 Multistrada. I had to keep lifting my right foot off the peg so it wouldn’t drag in corners.

I had to flash back to the 2012 Husqvarna media launch to determine the last time I tackled the challenge of a motocross track. And, even then, I also had to test trail bikes that day, so my time on the fairly mild vet-style track (a replica of the old Carlsbad circuit) was less than two hours. Would I like to ride another MX track in the future? Yes, definitely. Do I want to bust up another ankle or hip? No!

But can’t I do one without the other? Possibly…

These are things I pondered while laid up on the couch last weekend. Instead of being at Laguna Seca for the World Superbike races with a portion of the MO crew as part of a cool multi-bike shootout, I had to resort to tuning in to BEin Sports coverage on the tube. While I’m happy that Greg White’s commentary is sounding better than ever and Jason Pridmore is proving to be the most astute color guy among the several former racers who have tried with middling success to fill that tough job, I instead was wishing I was riding sporting motorbikes up Highways 33, 58 and 1 with my boys to see the races in person.

So, if I’m wishing I was riding motorcycles while enduring a throbbing but mending hip, it’s safe to say that I’ll be back aboard a bike just as soon as possible! We all have to determine how risk will or won’t rule our lives. While it’s true I could one day break a hip when crashing a motorcycle, the pain of living an inauthentic life and not riding would be too much to bear.

Anyway, I guess I’m still not convinced I see a good reason to act my age. That might actually make me old. Ride on! They say the first 50 years of childhood are the toughest…

  • Old MOron

    Is this really your hip? It looks like it comes from a horror movie.
    It’s gruesomely awesome, actually.

    Anyway, get well soon. I hate being less than 100% while I recover from injury!


  • craig collins

    very sorry to hear this. sounds like you’ll soon be back in action one way or another, doing one thing or the other. love your written work and the video reviews. man, it’s hard sitting around convalescing, but you’ll be back.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    So… no wheelies in the oncoming shootout? Me no watch.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Don’t worry. There’s a wheelie threesome!

  • Barry_Allen

    Of course you gotta get back on the bike. First day of school is barely a month away.
    Remember, you pinkie promised that adorable munchkin another pickup from school.
    Get well soon, for you, for her and for us.

  • Starmag

    Even though your hardware is growing your software seems free of viruses. A speedy recovery to you Mr. Duke.

  • DickRuble

    Very true Mr. Duke, old age shouldn’t keep you from enjoying life. Just be careful, don’t dislocate your shoulder while brushing your teeth, or trip on your slippers.

  • SRMark

    Get well soon. And enjoy your life.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    Get well soon Duke. A good friend of mine exploded his ankle and shin on his daughters scooter. Those kids toys are death traps!

  • I need to start teaching you Yiddish so you can talk like an alter cocker.

  • notfishing

    Lets be careful out there. When you pass your 6th decade all those little injuries come back to visit with a malevolence.

    • Ozzy Mick

      Dead right! And little knocks hurt like the blazes and take forever to heal!

  • Old MOron

    So I almost always read MOronic content more than once. Of course the narrative of your convalescing contemplation rewards repeated perusal.

    Props for keeping a walker. You know a guy is hard-core when keeps a walker in anticipation of his next injury!

    You don’t need to hate rollerblading. Anyone can break a bone while rollerblading, or climbing on a jungle-gym, or playing on a merry-go-round, etc. Think of how many kids you’ve seen in a cast. It happens all the time.

    Almost amputated your foot in 2003? Holly smokes, considering how she lamented your finger, imagine what that would’ve done to your poor mother!

    A well-considered life? I’ll keep playing here in the shallow waters. Thank you just the same 🙂

    • Ozzy Mick

      You’re like a mate of mine Old MO, refuses to swim in the ocean for fear of sharks, but piranhas can swim in shallow water.

      • Old MOron

        Ha ha, I had drowning in mind, but you make a good point, Mick: fear the billabong.
        (I know you don’t have piranhas Down Under, but I want to use the only Aussie word I know.)

        • Ozzy Mick

          Aha…the billabong…the dingoes might getcha.

  • JMDonald

    Until it becomes impossible not to soil one’s self we must all keep on keepin on. I can’t imagine any of us going down without swinging. I am technically in my 60th year and have been fighting injuries since high school. It does not get any easier. On occasion I limp a bit but luckily not all the time. I am a lot luckier than a most of the guys I know. It’s all about me you know. Nothing like a little dose of reality to put things in the proper perspective. Get well soon. You are a lucky guy.

  • kenneth_moore

    Damn Mr. Duke, very sorry to hear about that. I broke mine 3.5 years ago in a low-side and it was by far the worst injury I’ve ever had. It took a year to ride again and I was miserable until I finally got an artificial hip. 2 weeks after the replacement surgery it was almost like nothing happened. I only wish I’d done it sooner.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

    • Kevin Duke

      Glad to hear your injury got solved by the new hip! The docs told me since my fracture wasn’t displaced, it only needed screws to fix it. I’m feeling better every day, so thanks for your well-wishes!

  • I once wrote a story about a guy who was enjoying his retirement by doing 10 track days a year… at age 74. One of his bits of wisdom was, “One of the ways you keep on doing it is to keep on doing it.” Meaning: the older we get, the faster skills evaporate if we don’t work on them regularly. So we’ll keep on going as long as we can as much as we can. Happy birthday and a fast recovery, Kevin, and take solace in the knowledge that when you do get back on a bike, you’ll still be younger and faster than me. Dammit.

  • John B.

    Richard Pryor did a hysterical stand up routine about death where he said his Father died having sex with an eighteen year old woman. Pryor imagined two (2) lines. In one line, a man could choose to die by getting hit by a bus, and in the other line he would die while having sex with an eighteen year old. Pryor said, I don’t know about you, but I want to be in that long Mother F&%$&*g line. It was hysterical.

    Get well quickly Kevin, and by all means stay in the saddle as long as possible!!!

  • Pat Banta

    Move it soon as you can and don’t stop. You don’t want a blood clot. Lost my best friend to a clot in the hip that moved to his lung. I’ve had 14 surgeries and know how easy you can get stuck on your back. May the force be with you.

  • Hal

    Sorry to hear about your prang, KD. However to put it in perspective, you were out there bonding with your kid, being a cool dad, and that is priceless and worth (almost) any sacrifice. I got hooked on ice figure skating when my 12 year old wanted to learn, and we had such a blast learning together, definitely a big plus for a father-daughter relationship. So heal quickly, then get back on skates/wheels or whatever.

  • Jim Miller

    Larry Works, my former boss at Cycle Guide magazine, used to say he wanted his last words to be, “Oh, shi….” At 65, I’m still hoping that goes for me as well. And I still ride every day.

  • RandleMcMurphy

    Hope your recovery goes well and fast Duke! Dont worry, we’ll all be waiting here for you. Take your time. Do it right. Sometimes there’s a Blessing involved in these unforeseen bumps in the road. You’ve got a cute daughter, use the time to give it to her! It’s the most precious thing you can give your kids.

    As a nurse, I know the advances made in hip sugery amongst others. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll heal up.

    So, best to you. You’re appreciated. Know that.

    2 wheels? No problem. 4 wheels on each foot? Not so much. Go figure right? 😉

    • Kevin Duke

      Thanks for the kind words and encouragement!

  • RandleMcMurphy

    One more thing.

    You quote George Burns. One of my favorite quotes from him is:

    “Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.”

  • Larry Kahn

    Roller blades have too many wheels. Anything with over two is suspect.

    • Kevin Duke

      But at least they lean into corners!

  • Bananapants Ficklefart

    Just low-sided my Harley 2nd day I had it (gravel washout around a corner). Stitches, bruising, and anticipation to get back on it (I’m 40 and on blood-thinners). We’re all stupid.

    • Kevin Duke

      Hope your hip is okay! 🙂

      • Bananapants Ficklefart

        Hip is ok, will resemble a Canadian sunrise. Thanks for asking, get well soon. Love the vids and articles.

  • B.Hoop

    Sux that you broke your hip. Nice that you had a walker on stand-by… Get well, soon!

  • James Stewart

    Duke – really? That’s the best cover story you can come up with? Dang man – I would have fabricated something involving Glen Helen, a KTM450SX, and making a last lap pass to win the REM Championship or something…After careful study, I have determined that males over 50 re-living the glory of their teen years do more to support the American orthopedic surgeons/Physical Therapists than any other demographic. So we need to keep it up – otherwise the entire American medical system will collapse !

  • Ozzy Mick

    Get better and back on a bike, any bike, quick smart Duke.
    Looking at the last piccie, I now know where the Motogp guys learnt their leg-hanging out technique from.