Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Motorcycle Accidents Will Happen to Everyone

Motorcycle AccidentsLast 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.

6 comments:

  1. I damn near had my first, today. S man on the 5 decided to change lanes on a whim & never signaled or checked his blind spot. If I hadn't been wary of him from the start he would have got me. As it was I don't think he missed me by much more than a couple of inches.
    A while back someone wrote a letter to the Friction Zone telling that all motorcycle accidents are the rider's fault, including when he gets hit from behind while sitting still. Thank you for being fair enough to acknowledge that that is not the case. My choosing to ride should never negate the accountability of others.
    I tell my Mom, I take my safety as seriously when I'm riding as I do with anything else. I pay attention and I get the right equipment (Leathers, Helmet, etc.)and hope it does it's job.
    Thanks for sharing. And Yes, that pick was in Harbisom Canyon by the Sycuan Casino.

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  2. As a MSF instructor, we try to help our students understand that riding a motorcycle (like everything else in life) inherently poses certain risks. One must learn to manage their risks.

    You manage your risks by riding often and improving your skills, practice "life skills" such as swerving and quick stops (this can be done by taking the BRC or ERC). Dress appropriately (too much protective gear on a hot day can increase your risk for dehydration, confusion, heat stroke, etc). And don't be afraid to turn around and go home if you feel like it just isn't your day to ride. We all have bad days. There is no shame in recognizing you're not on top of your game on a particular day.

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  3. I found your blog by disagreeing with a comment you made on Road Captain's blog. In this case though, I agree 100% with every word of this post. I'm also a member of the Broken Wings club, and I can't stay off two wheels either. If you're looking for safety, I say join a Chess Club or something.

    That being said, I will say that there's no reason to invite the devil. We should all dress and ride as safely as we can, when we can. Yeah, he is out there alright, and next time he could get any of us. For now, I'm going to keep flipping him off.

    Any problem with me linking to you?Ride Safe...

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  4. Joker, no problem at all. I just added you.

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  5. June, 1988, the out come after they jacked the pick up truck up off me and the bike was, left leg in two places, left arm in two places, all the left ribs, left collar bone.

    Yea, it happens, was my own stupid fault. you see, I wasn't riding faster than anyone else.

    Just like that couple you wrote about not riding any faster than you and your friend Mel. Here's the twist. They were not riding faster than you guys, but, they were riding to fast for them.

    I know guys that have been riding ten years, and can take an ultra glide through twisties like they were on an R1 Yamaha out at Laguna Seca. I Also know guys that have been riding 40 years, and take that same bike through the same turns like the Slowski family turtles from the comcast commercials, the slower the better.

    Single bike, and in some cases, mulitiple bike crashes happen when one person, in an effort to keep up, out rides their capabilities. When they push that envelope just a little to far and can't handle it.

    No rider should ever be ashamed to slow down, and back off to the speed they can handle. In doing so, they might get to the stop 2 minutes later, and be the last to get their beer, but, they will be alive to get their beer.

    That saying about never riding faster than your angels can fly is very true.

    Another phenomina of crashes the last few years are what I call, the empty nest crashers. These are the guys, 45 to 50, who stopped riding when the kids were born 25 or 30 years ago. Now the kids are grown an gone, and those commercials are calling them to come ride. They don't go out and buy a 650 to get going again, they can afford that big road glide, electra glide or goldwing.

    Even when they take the safety class, learning on that 250 does not translate to riding that big bike, and, they are one of the groups now having an alarming number of crashes.

    Don't ride what you can afford, ride what you can handle, and the only person you have to "keep up with" is you.

    WindyJoe

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  6. Whatever may happens accidents are the most serious things.. I'm still not sure why they went down. I'm told these were veteran riders

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)