Last summer, my friend Mel and I took a ride with some other folks up to Idyllwild, CA. We headed up Highway 243. There's a place on this direction of the 243 that has you coming downhill and approaching a very tight curve. It's caused many accidents.
A couple riding an Electra Glide, behind Mel and I, wiped out on this curve. Mel and I didn't know it at the time, and kept going. Finally, we turned around when we realized that they were too far back.
I'm still not sure why they went down. I'm told these were veteran riders. Mel and I went through that curve without a hitch, and they were riding no faster than we.
Ultimately, that couple opted to stop riding.
The old saying from the die-hard riding establishment is...
"There are two kinds of riders, those who have crashed, and those who will crash."Statistically, it's inevitable. Fate eventually catches up to you if you give it enough chances. There's no way around it.
I spend my time on "newbie rider forums". There are some out there on the Internet, places where beginners can go online and talk solely on the topic of getting started. I like to do my part in answering questions and helping them understand what they're getting into.
Everyone should take safety seriously. But there's a community of riders that seem to take an anal approach to it. They're concern is that you can never be safe enough, and can never get enough training. And when a crash happens, these people evaluate what the rider could have done to prevent it. "He should not have stayed that long in the cager's blind spot". Or, "When he approached the intersection, he should have anticipated a crash and slowed down a little".
I respond back to these people and say, "look, you can always point your finger at something, and find blame in the rider. But there's always 20/20 vision in hindsight. Even the most skilled and experienced riders get into accidents".
The response I get back is that, "yes but, wearing full protective gear, and constantly practicing will reduce the chances of serious injury and mistakes".
And to that I reply, "If you're that concerned about staying safe, then why are you riding a motorcycle?"
So what I tell the newbies is that motorcycling is inherently dangerous, and that YOU WILL crash, and it will hurt. Whether it's your fault, or a cager's fault, you must prepare yourself with this fact. You're going to suffer some broken bones. It will happen, I promise. And if you can live with that, then you're ready to ride.
Some of these riders who I'm always at odds with try to write me off as some kind of outlier, someone who doesn't represent the established opinion. Perhaps that's true. But I can't be written off. They create this sense of insecurity that you're never doing enough to protect yourself, and if you happen to crash, they'll find some reason why you failed.
This causes newbies to fear themselves.
You can never enjoy motorcycling if you keep this cloud hovering over your conscience. Instead, accept the fact that you will crash, it won't necessarily be your fault, and then you can truly enjoy the thrill of riding. Those who feel that being safe is more important than anything else, has no business being on a motorcycle.
So back to that couple that decided to give up on motorcycling. I think they did what many other people have done. They evaluated the risks inherent to motorcycling, and realized that there is no way to be totally safe. To them, motorcycling is not so important. They have many more ways to spend time together.
I tell people that I'm on my fourth life. I've had three injurious motorcycle accidents going back to my college days, and up to about a couple of years ago. One of them put me in the hospital for eight days. I still can't stay away from my motorcycle. I suppose I've cheated the Devil thus far.
I know I'll be crashing again however, and the next time he might get me.