Monday, May 16, 2011

Two-Wheel World

At our yard sale on Saturday, my friend Jennifer and I were talking about riding roller coasters and other such things. I'm not a thrill-seeker, and I prefer to keep my feet on the ground unless required to have them leave it.

I don't jump out of working airplanes, bungee jump, eat exotic foods or generally challenge my body to survive some extraordinary experience. I prefer the comfort of the mundane.

I watch the American Chopper show regularly. I enjoy watching people build things from scratch and I'm interested in the process of making a motor vehicle. That's where my fascination with motorcycles ends. I have no desire to buy one or ride one on the highway. In the hierarchy of vehicles, the motorcycle is at the bottom of the food chain, below Smart Cars and barely above the bicycle as a mode of transportation.

One of my co-workers was involved in a motorcycle accident on Saturday in which his wife and her sister were killed instantly when a pick-up truck crossed the line and hit them. He is in critical condition, barely hanging on to life, and it's doubtful he'll be anywhere near the same person if he manages to make it.

It's a horrible fate to ponder, but I admit that it's difficult for me to completely empathize because I cannot imagine myself being in the same position. I've been involved in bicycle crashes, but those usually occur at around 18 mph and most of us wind up on the grass. I've never been hit by a car because I don't ride in the travel lane.

When someone dies of a disease, a heart ailment or some general injury a sense of my own mortality creeps over me and I contemplate what I would do if I were faced with a similar problem. But I can't find it in me to conjure up the notion of being on a motorcycle and dying in a crash. It's a situation I haven't remotely considered.

Some things in life are self-inflicted. We willingly place ourselves in harm's way for the sake of a thrill or some experience that is out of the ordinary. There are other modes of transportation than motorcycles and all of them are safer. Add to that the idea that some riders have that they can exceed the speed limit (by a wide margin) and weave in and out of traffic and you multiply the risk for the sake of getting there before the automobiles.

I hear them speeding up and down my street and never see them pulled over by the police. When I see them, I think that all it would take is a squirrel or a bird flying at them to turn them into a sliding mess on the road.

Regardless of whether one operates it safely (and there is every indication that the riders were) it is generally the "other guy" that influences the course of events.

I'm not ready to allow anyone else to tell me how I'm going to die. Certainly not for the feeling of the wind in my face and the road beneath me. I'll die the old-fashioned way, thank you.


Anonymous said...

sad...just VERY VERY VERY VERY sad.. life can change in an INSTANT.. WOW

Cliff Yankovich said...

Tragic about your co-worker and his family members.
Had a brother that died in a car accident - slow roll over after a tire blew. No one did anything wrong (except the tire I suppose) four others in the car got out without a scratch. He died.
So, should I stay out of cars?
I have ridden motorcycles for years. It strikes me as odd how many people feel inclined to share their motorcycle death stories with me - maybe I should tell everyone who drives a car about my brother.
Not saying you shared this story with me personally, just giving you another perspective because I think you are open to them.