22 May 2008

"I once knew a guy"

Well it happened again, first time this year though I’m certain it won’t be the last, the same one sided discussion that we Motorcyclists have been listening to ever since we took to two wheels. I’m talking about the conversation of the inevitable perils of motorcycling. Ever since I was a discomfited young boy visiting one of my “anti-motorcycling” neighbors on the block, to total strangers at a gas station while filling up, the conversation begins with the individual knowing of someone who was either killed, paralyzed or horribly injured on a motorcycle. I call this a conversation although it is actually more of a single sided opinion or monologue on the part of the individual telling the story. I was taught by my Father a long time ago that it is usually pointless to take part in fruitless debates where neither side can claim any victory, therefore, I remain silent during the lecture and listen to the person respectfully, and then I go on my way.

I can say this honestly, and I do believe that I have been extremely fortunate in this respect, that I have never suffered the loss of a friend while motorcycling. I read about it constantly, and I do know individuals who at the very least had somebody close to them injured in some form of incident. At the very least, I feel lucky if not down right blessed in the matter, and I hope that I never have that experience. Okay sure, I’ve seen the breaks, sprains, bruises and road rash, but as far as dealing with the trauma of a death or paralysis, I have not.

Truth is, I know that Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous lifestyle; I am aware that we are difficult to see in traffic, especially when others aren’t looking out for us, and that we are for the most part, soft targets in a world of very “hard” automobiles, and let’s not forget the natural hazards and large animals (along with the small ones) that can spell our doom as well. I believe that it is because of this awareness, and not despite it, that I have had a relatively successful and trauma free motorcycling experience.

It happened today at work. First thing this morning, one of my fellow employees walked up to me and told me of his friend who, while on vacation, was riding down the Pacific Coast Highway and somehow ended up riding his bike off of a cliff. They seemed a little disturbed when I responded with a relieved sigh that he only ended up with a compound fracture somewhere on his leg. Noticing the look of disdain on my fellow employee’s face at my relief, I stated very sincerely that he very easily could’ve been killed. As he turned and walked away, my fellow worker just shook his head in disgust. I, On the other hand, was dead serious.

Maybe it’s the former Pilot in me, but I was much more interested in knowing how it happened and more importantly, how it could have been prevented. As a Pilot, one of the things that interested me the most was delving through the hundreds if not thousands of pages of NTSB reports regarding countless aviation accidents and mishaps. There was a wealth of information in those reports that I found very educational, learning from others mistakes and how to make proper judgment calls as a result. What it often boils down to in Aviation as well as motorcycling or anything else for that matter is usually poor judgment on the part of the individual who was a major part of the accident. “Pilot error” is a term that I read all too often in the conclusion of a vast majority of those reports.

I’m not going to stop riding because of somebody else’s misfortune, I am far too smitten with motorcycles to walk away, and I want to learn from their mistakes. Instead I try to remain humble about my skills, respectful of the bikes and others for that matter, and above all else practice safe riding that to me means not only vigilance while riding but also wearing the proper gear for the ride. I have found it a little hypocritical that the same people who have chided me over the years for riding have also at times been the first to make jokes about the specific gear that I insist on wearing all of the time........Interesting.

There is so much to talk about here; any one of these paragraphs, I could go on a rant of a few thousand words about, and perhaps in future posts, I will. I just felt the need to get the frustrating topic of this everlasting conversation off of my chest and I felt that my blog was the perfect place for that.

Ride Well,

20 May 2008

All is well

Gosh, I can't believe that it has already been two weeks since my last post. I've been tied up a little bit with other things, therefore limiting my opportunities to get on the computer.

On May 5, my Mother went on her dream trip with her granddaughter to Ireland, I just found out about this adventure a little while ago when she asked if I would be willing to take care of her two cats while she was overseas. It was only about a week or so before she left that she bothered to tell me that she would be gone until Memorial day weekend! Obviously going over to her house on my way to work in the mornings to feed the cats and clean the litter, and then going back to her house after work to do more of the same kind of eats up a lot of my day.

By the time I get home, exercise my German Shepherd (trust me they need their daily exercise), eat dinner and do my housework, it's time for bed. With that, my time to work on the computer is rather limited. Also, I donated my camera to Mom's trip as well, so it is currently touring Ireland on a tour bus and not Eastern Washington on my motorcycle. My only hope is that she brings back a memory card full of pictures of the Emerald Isle and not of thumbs and camera straps blocking the lens.

I have had a few thoughts ricocheting around in my head for the past few weeks for the blog though my time is too limited to write anything down just yet.

Just thought that I would report that all is well in the Palouse and that I have been a little pre-occupied entertaining cats for the past few weeks. The bikes are both well and the weather promising. Until next time.

Ride well.