Brittany Nguyen – Soul Survivor

In August of 2017, a drunk driver collided with Brittany Nguyen as she was behind the wheel of her car, ramming into her driver’s side door. Brittany’s car rolled three times. The list of injuries sustained include nine broken ribs, a lacerated liver, brain contusion with severe bleeding, a fractured (in two places) pelvis, a broken humerus, a collapsed lung, and a displaced spinal cord. Her universe would be forever changed.

It was only in the prior summer of 2016 that Brittany began her life as a motorcyclist. After earning her motorcycle endorsement on her license, Brittany purchased her first bike, a spanking new 2016 Yamaha YZF-R3.

“Freedom…” is how she describes the emotion that overtakes her when she is riding. “There’s a certain type of freedom that comes with that, from overthinking problems or stressing about what’s going on in your life. It is the one thing that takes me away from all the chaos and brings me to the place I feel most content and happy.”

Brittany’s journey into freedom as a motorcyclist came to an abrupt and brutal pause when she fell victim to the drunk driver’s careless and reckless behavior. The bleeding on her brain continued for three days. While one lung collapsed, the other was full of blood. Her spinal cord was moved six millimeters, temporarily paralyzing her. She underwent spinal fusion surgery that included a metal plate and eight screws to stabilize her spine just so she could walk.

Surviving the wreckage was only the beginning. Her road to recovery would be nothing short of a long, hard road out of the darkness of hell. Brittany defines the role of survivor as, “Someone that perseveres through the toughest of situations where most wouldn’t come back from. It means someone who will always prevail through the most difficult of times, and never give up.”

Giving up or giving in clearly not in Brittany’s genetic code. After months of intensive physical therapy and even now monthly therapy, that will continue for the foreseeable future, Brittany has defied the odds. Not only has she survived, she is progressing in her physical and mental fortitude.

“I didn’t want to let it take away any more of my life and happiness than it already has,” Brittany explained. “The impact my accident had on my riding street or track and especially learning how to stunt has been tremendous. I have a much higher risk than most people because of the bracket holding my spine in place. If the metal bracket is moved at all or injured in a wreck, it could potentially paralyze me for the rest of my life. Even in a small wreck it could damage the bracket. It frightens me at times thinking about that possibility but I decided I didn’t want to let my injuries and what happened to me define me anymore.”

That’s correct. Brittany is more of a rider today than she was before the accident. She’s an avid street rider, track rider and an aspiring stunter with a small stable of bikes for her indulgence. She is learning to stunt on her 2018 Honda Grom while her fully kitted out 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 636 is waiting in the wings. Her everyday street and track bike? A 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 636.

The stakes are high for Brittany. However, her love and passion for all things two wheels are higher. With every twist of the throttle, Brittany risks losing everything… Literally, everything.

Is it worth it?

“The risks of what could happen if I wrecked, and potentially being paralyzed, is something I think about often. But I’ve come to the conclusion its worth it to me. When I tried to stay away from bikes right after my injuries, I was so depressed and it’s all I could think or dream about day in and day out.” Brittany continues to explain her addiction, “My heart beats RPMs. It is a fundamental part of me now. It’s my passion. What I live and breathe. All I can do is learn how to deal with my injuries in a way that still lets me live my life riding bikes.”

Living her life riding bikes is just what she has done. Brittany has built a foothold of supporters, including almost 85,000 followers on Instagram. She makes no qualms about the benefits of using social media to further one’s brand or broadcast their message. “I think it’s an amazing platform to capitalize on and get yourself out there, especially if you don’t know anyone. I’ve had so many doors open for me and been given countless opportunities I would have never gotten if it wasn’t for social media and trying to get the most out of my following.”

Her understanding of the power of social media is broken down as such, “It’s about more than just posting a picture and having people like it. It’s about the influence you give them and the way they see the motorcycle world through your eyes. It’s such a great way to meet the right people and connect with everyone from around the world brought together by the love of bikes.”

Influencer, brand ambassador and tastemaker, Brittany is not naive to the shady side of social media and the lack of respect from her male counterparts. “I am constantly shocked at how the majority of men in the motorcycle community still belittle female riders’ knowledge and don’t take us seriously in the bike community. We constantly have to do more track days, do better wheelies, and have better bikes to have an ounce of the respect a male rider would have.”

She laments, “In my opinion, it is a major problem that needs to change. It’s like men are threatened by us, so they feel the need to constantly say how little we know about bike maintenance, how we only ride for attention, or barely ride our bikes at all.” Her suggestion, “While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say, most of the time, that isn’t the case. But even if it was, it blows my mind that people even care what someone else does with their own bike. Let them live their life and ride how they want to without the criticism of someone who has nothing better in their life than to try and belittle other riders.”

Brittany Nguyen has been through the ups and downs of life. The depths of despair that she has experienced may have been overwhelming for many and past the point of return for most. However, Brittany is more than a survivor. She’s a rider that puts it on the line every time that she throws a leg over her bike. Unwilling to take the loss, she’s fought her way back through recovery and is focused on the ride that matters most… Her ride.

“If you want something bad enough, you’ll always find a way to make it work. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Images: Ron Mercer

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