He calmly noted that he was unable to move his legs and that despite the mild spring weather, he was suddenly very, very cold. Then the pain hit. A searing tsunami of pain which seemed to rip him half.
The former British Supersport champion had been flung over the handlebars of his bike following a 150mph collision with team-mate and friend Gary Mason during practice day at the North West 200, an annual road race through the streets of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush in Northern Ireland. With the exception of a short blackout at the moment of impact, Easton can remember every long second of the shocking crash on May 19 last year.
On the opening lap Mason's bike suffered engine failure and stopped dead. Easton, a race favourite who had set a speed record of 204mph at the previous year's event, ploughed into the back of Mason's bike and was thrown into the air.
"I remember the crash; the slide and the tumble up the road. Then I was lying in the road and, as you do, assessing the damage. I couldn't move my legs and the first thing I thought was that I was paralysed which is one of my biggest fears."
Easton, now 28, was rushed to Causeway hospital in Coleraine before being transferred to the Royal Victoria in Belfast that evening where he was put into a coma.
He had suffered a series of major injuries, any one of which could have killed him; his bowel had been ripped apart; his right femur had been broken in two places just missing an main artery, twice; he suffered massive internal bleeding and shattered his pelvis in five places. In addition, he had broken his hips, his coccyx, his fingers and had a deep slash to his right arm.
As he lay fighting for his life in Belfast, his wife, Claire, was at home in Hawick with the couple's toddler son, Finley. "I got a call to say he had dislocated his pelvis," says Claire, 29, who has been with her husband since they were teenagers. "As the day went on it just got worse and worse and worse and then they said, 'You had better get a flight out here.'"
Claire's parents took Finley, who was 20 months old at the time, while she raced to Edinburgh airport. "When I was on my way his consultant phoned and I thought, 'This isn't good.' He said he had just come out of surgery with my husband and that Stuart was stable. He said that was all he could tell me and that there was a 50:50 chance he would make it through the night. I thought, 'Oh my god.'
"When I got there he was in intensive care and a nurse was sitting with him 24/7. They were saying his chances of pulling through or making a full recovery were really slim. It was horrendous."
On the night of the crash Easton was given an emergency operation to repair his bowel but he remained in a coma for two more days. When he came round, he had difficulty speaking and the painkilling drugs left him delirious. Claire remained by his bedside. "Looking back now, you think, 'How the hell do you do it?' But you've got to. You've just got to deal with it at the time," she says.
A week later, Easton underwent a nine-hour operation to fix the broken bones in his body. "It was just days and days of pain," he says. "You never knew if it was morning or night and it seemed like a long time before I felt comfortable. Ish."
He spent five weeks in hospital in Belfast before being airlifted to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, to be closer to home, where he spent another month.
Now, incredibly, less than a year after the crash that almost killed him, he's back racing motorcycles at the highest level and will line up on the grid at the MCE Insurance British Superbikes meeting this weekend. He's already sitting sixth in the championship, which comes to Knockhill on June 24, after two fighting top-five finishes at the last meeting despite still recovering from his injuries. Motorcycle News' racing expert Gary Pinchin says Easton's comeback "beggars belief". "There's no way he's fully fit," says Pinchin, "and in testing he had to stop riding because his body couldn't take the relentless laps, but his pace was stunning. He's only going to get faster."
As well as the support from his wife and family, the offer of a place in the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team while Easton lay in his hospital bed by his mentor Paul Bird has been instrumental in his recovery. "Paul Bird is, aside from my dad, probably the biggest influence in my career," says Easton. "When I was lying in hospital in Belfast, in a bad way and smashed to bits, he came to visit and said that if I'm well enough to race the following year he would put a bike under me. Being so badly injured, not many other teams were exactly throwing themselves at me."
Once he emerged from critical care, Easton was advised by specialists that it would take between 18 months and two years for his body to repair. He has defied all expectations with his determination to recover. His progress has astounded doctors and fans alike.
Almost one year on, the Eastons are together again at home in Hawick. Sitting in the warm living room, they are like any loving young family, surrounded by family portraits and photographs of their wedding three years ago. Easton, who is helping out at his father's garage, has popped home for lunch while his wife, a beauty therapist, is now a full-time mother to Finley, who has just emptied a box of toy cars on to the carpet. Finley likes cars in a big way, but has yet to show much interest in bikes, much to his mother's relief.
As a child, Easton was fascinated by motorcycles. His father, Brian, enjoyed rally driving and had motocross bikes. "I vaguely remember the first race my dad took me to," says Easton. "It was the Scottish motocross championships. I must have been only about four. It's one of my earliest memories."
Son and father are clearly close. "I really enjoy working with my dad. There's never been a cross word between us. We're quite similar. We're both quiet."
Hawick has a long tradition of motorcycle racing and Easton admits that helped inspire him. Steve Hislop, who raced from the 1980s, won the Isle of Man TT 11 times and the town's most famous son is Jimmie Guthrie, the 1930s multiple Grand Prix winner, of whom there is a statue in the town centre.
Easton won the British Supersport championship when he was 17 and continued to make his name in the sport. However, when he woke from the coma to find his body in shreds, he vowed to never get back on a bike. He asked his mother, Gillian, to get him college prospectuses so he could retrain, perhaps as a mechanic. A week later the TV coverage of the Isle of Man TT began.
"He couldn't watch it in the beginning," recalls Claire. "Then I came in one day and he said he had been watching the TT and I was like, 'Oh no' and I just knew. When he said to his mum to go and get him a college prospectus, I said to her that I didn't believe it. I knew that as soon as he was fit enough, he would be back [on a bike] because I think that's what got him through."
Easton now says: "I wasn't thinking straight. God knows what I was thinking but I was looking at going back to college.
"Making a comeback is the easiest thing to do. If I'm 28, I'll probably only have 10 years left. If I finish now and I get to 45 or 50 I'd think I should have done another 10 years.
"A lot of folk came into the garage and said I'm worse than daft, a few old women telling me off for making a comeback. It's 10 years though and I want to do it while I'm still young."
Claire is aware that resistance is futile. "Life's too short," she says. "He's not doing it though," she adds, nodding at Finley. "I'm putting my foot down."
Did becoming a father make Easton more cautious? "Not from a racing point of view," he says. "Selfish," says Claire with a smile.
"You still need to push on when you are racing," continues her husband. "You seem to forget how dangerous it is, in a funny way. You get wrapped up in it. When you are at a circuit, which is two miles long, you do so many laps over the weekend and you've done so many laps over the years at these circuits that it kind of becomes second nature.
"Every now and again you'll get a reminder of how dangerous it is. Somebody will get hurt or have a close one and it brings it back to reality. You're probably better off not thinking about these things. If you thought about it too much you'd be pretty slow." Easton laughs.
What does he think of his own close call? "I must have an inbuilt thing that blanks it out. I never think about it too much."
For Claire, it is harder to operate in a bubble, but she is realistic. The couple met a decade ago and many of their friends and family are involved in the sport.
"I can say as often as I like that I don't want him to do it, and I don't want him to do it any more, but he has done it since we have been together and he did a long time before he met me, so I wouldn't stop him but - I do get really nervous," she admits.
"Seeing him on a bike again I get quite anxious after what has happened, but I've got to get on with it. It's like all these poor women who are left when their husbands go to Afghanistan – not that I can compare it to that, but I can imagine how they feel. I almost blank it out. As long as I am there to support him, it's all I can do."
Claire finds it worse when she is not watching a race. "When he is testing in Spain and I'm at home, I'm waiting for the call to say he's all right. It's a case of trying to keep yourself busy, knowing he is going round a racing track at God knows how many miles an hour and I am here doing my ironing."
Although he is still building his strength, Easton is optimistic about the future. "I'd like to think that if I've had a bad run of smaller injuries for a long time, and then I had a real big injury, surely -"
"Please don't say it," says Claire.
"Surely lightning won't strike twice," he says with a grin. "That's what I'm hoping, that these 10 years are injury free and I can try to have as much success as I can."
He refers to a recent practice at Knockhill. He was half a second slower per lap than his teammate and it's eating him up. "In November I would have taken that, but not now." It is obvious that his competitive nature is back at full throttle.
Claire rolls her eyes. "He's crazy. Anybody in their right mind that this has happened to, you wouldn't get back on a bike would you?"
Her husband smiles. "With a big injury like that, it could have been the beginning of the end. Not just from injuries but from finding a bike, from finding a team. It's definitely what you would call a lifeline, what Paul [Bird] has offered."
Claire turns to Finley and says: "I wish he hadn't. We could just mosey on. We're happy at home, aren't we? A normal life would be nice." But as Easton prepares to race this weekend, normal life will have to wait a little longer. n