Seven years ago Prince Rupert’s Chris Rose was recovering from a motorcycle accident that almost killed him, but today he is celebrating his success at the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show held in Sturgis, South Dakota in August.
Consisting of approximately 100 custom bikes, the 26th Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show was held on Aug. 7, with Rose being encouraged to enter while he and his ride were in the area on vacation.
All the contenders were reviewed by an international team of judges in 16 categories and even though he initially didn’t feel his custom 2004 Harley Davidson Softail Deuce was worthy, Rose placed second in the over 1,000cc Custom category of this year’s contest.
The win was significant for Rose as his motorcycle is more than just an outstanding custom, but a representation of his battle against death.
“It’s not just a pretty bike with a paint job,” said Rose.
“It has a story and meaning behind it.”
Back in 2007, Rose and some friends took their bikes on a trip to Ketichikan, Alaska, deciding to park for the night and go out for some drinks.
Shortly before the trip Rose had gotten an eye surgery. He wasn’t told it could affect his night vision and he wasn’t wearing a helmet because they weren’t required in the community. Rose drove into a pedestrian sign at 25 km/h as he turned a corner, flying over the handlebars and head first into the curb.
The accident stopped his heart, caved in his skull and ejected one of his eyes from its socket, with paramedics reviving Rose three times before he was airlifted to the University of Washington Harborview Medical Centre in Seattle. Because his brain was swelling so badly, doctors induced a coma that Rose would remain in for 11 days.
After being transferred to Vancouver General Hospital, Rose underwent various surgeries including procedures to rebuild his face, with his jaw having to be broken and reset three times.
After completing eight months of rehab Rose was able to return to Prince Rupert, and the following year he returned to Ketichikan.
“I ran into a taxi driver (who witnessed the accident). He told me ‘I was the first one there, me and my buddy were holding onto you. He had your head and I was checking your pulse’,” said Rose.
“He started crying and said, ‘you were dead, you had no pulse’.”
And it seemed like death had it out for him, with Rose’s father passing away shortly after the accident, followed by his mother and brother within two years.
After recovering, Rose made the decision to build his custom bike, completing the revamped Harley Davidson two and a half years later.
Rose’s near-death experience was the inspiration behind the design airbrushed on the bike’s body, with his concept being elevated by artist Mike Gariepy. Images include the Grim Reaper, a pocket watch being broken by a cross, a rose bush growing in a graveyard and three crosses to represent his lost family
“This was showing the Reaper that I’m not ready to go yet; I have a lot more to do,” Rose explained.