Garry Seith, chief meteorologist for KTXA/Channel 21, says he fell in love with motorcycles back in the seventh grade, when his neighbor's dad had a BMW motorcycle. That stuck with Seith till he was old enough to ride.
"I got out of college and had a sport bike for about two or three years," says Seith, who is also part of the weather team at TXA-21's sister station, KTVT/Channel 11. "But honestly, I didn't start picking this up till about two years ago, when at the age of 40, I went out and got a motorcycle. I just love it."
Last year, Seith began riding with a school called RideSmart, which rents area racetracks to give sport riders track time. Seith liked being in a safe track environment where he could push his bike to its limits and where he wouldn't have to worry about other drivers or patchy roads.
But even in a safe environment, accidents happen. On June 26, Seith was riding at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, southwest of Fort Worth. He was on a new section of track when he came over a hill and onto a curve. He went off the track, hitting rain ruts in the grass.
"Apparently, one of the corner workers saw the whole thing," Seith says. "My bike hit something, it nose-planted, it pitched me about 40 feet. I didn't skid to a stop. When I hit the ground, I stopped instantaneously. I hit something pretty hard."
Seith suffered a broken shoulder blade, a few broken ribs and some muscle damage in his neck that had surgeons worrying about the possibility of paralysis. He was in a neck brace for three weeks and off the air for a month. He returned Monday, but Seith says he's still sore.
Meteorologists work with green screens, which provide the illusion that they're standing in front of a weather map while they're getting information from a monitor off to the side. They also use a lot of arm movement and head turns, and Seith says the injuries still affect that.
"What it really affects is my neck," Seith says. "Having to look one way or the other. I don't have full range of motion. But that's the only thing I'm really seeing. Raising my arm, I'm not having an issue with it ... although I would have if I'd tried to come back right away."
Seith is still evaluating if and when he might want to start riding again; he says he misses it, but it's an expensive pastime, and he's still looking at a couple of thousand dollars in bike repairs.
There's also the psychological factor of getting back on the bike after the wreck. Seith says this wasn't his first bike wreck, but in the first one he managed to lay the bike down easy and avoid injury.
The first one "didn't shake me too much," he says. "But this one does. Because you can see how quickly it can just turn really bad. There is a strange psychology to it, and I think I'll only realize that when I get back on the motorcycle for the first time. I know I'll be skittish. I'm not going to put up some false bravado."
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872