Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Issue #122 September 2012

Danger, Will Robinson!

I shouldn’t have to mention that motorcycling, generally speaking is a dangerous thing. And really, that has always been part of the attraction, flying down the road at silly speeds wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans and a T shirt on some cobbled together contraption built by some crazy guy in his shed, nothing feels as good and at the same time, you KNOW what will happen if that nut you forgot to red loctite backs off at just the wrong time... and it isn’t going to be pretty.
There is, of course another completely separate segment of motorcycling that believe in ATGATT. This annoying acronym stands for “All the gear, all the time”. 120ยบ out? Only going to 7-11 1.5 miles away? No excuse, the multi-buckle boots, the armored knee leather pants, the armored elbow and shoulder leather jacket and the full face helmet MUST be worn.
Now those guys have perfectly sound logic and reasoning as to why they do this, they want to have the best chance of surviving a wreck as possible, they have the facts and figures to back up their arguments and will always point to the guys racing bikes for a living that fall off at 200 mph and then get up and stroll nonchalantly back to the pits for an iced tea.
So, why do I not ascribe to that theory? I have family and loved ones to whom it would be devastating if I were to splatter my unprotected body across the interstate. I’m sure some of you readers would miss me for maybe an issue. Maybe it’s pure laziness, I would probably rather jump into the air conditioned truck on a hot day than climb into all that gear. I LOVE the freedom of just putting on the shades, kick and GO! I don’t think I’ve put the helmet on in Michigan since they repealed it earlier this year. I don’t think I have some secret desire to live the rest of my days with a feeding tube in my mouth and family members arguing about who gets to pull the plug.
Clearly, the best protection is afforded by the full face helmet. But I’ve never liked them, the distortion of the shield, the affect on peripheral vision, the dulling of the ambient sounds around you, the weight on your neck, the ‘oven’ effect when stuck in traffic, hell even the lack of smell annoys me, and don’t get me started on the fun of sneezing while you have those things on. In reality, even when there was a helmet law in Michigan (and all the other states we have run in), I only wore a ‘novelty’ beanie helmet anyway, just for the appearance of legality so I wouldn’t be hassled by the ‘man’. Any sort of comfort one may have taken from the protection of such a cheap device would be at best wishful thinking.
The reality (as I see it) is that the ATGATT guy probably wouldn’t be any better off than me if a minivan ran into him, but I feel I have a better chance of hearing, seeing and reacting faster without all that stuff on.

This brings me to the point that prompted me to write this editorial in the first place... it had become a LOT more dangerous out there in the last couple of years. I am, of course, referring to the cellphone impaired driver. Now, I know lots of people that can drive perfectly fine while talking on the phone, but you do see a lot of drivers out there that cannot. After a while, you get used to looking for them with their hand to their ear, careening the minivan through the parking lot as if they were a Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. As annoying and dangerous is this is, most of us have adapted to it. What is getting worse, however, are the damned texters.
If you’re cruising in traffic at all, scan the drivers side mirror on vehicles, if you see the tell-tale look down.. look up quick.. look back down... look up real quick being repeated over and over, you know this drive had no idea of what’s going on around him. I saw a hidden camera report that showed teenagers checked their texts every 30 seconds and had no second thought about replying while driving. I have no great words of wisdom about how to solve this one. It’s already illegal in a lot of places, but that’s not going to stop most people and we know it. I know people who think it’s perfectly fine to endanger the lives of others while texting or updating facebook because they ‘can handle it’. Well bullshit!
Listen, I’m no safety nazi, I don’t give a crap if you wear seatbelts or not, only run a questionable back brake or think that shorts and motorcycles are a great mix, if you’re texting/surfing/updating FB etc. while driving, you’re a damn menace, right up there with the repeat drunk driver and probably deserve it when you run into the back of the parked big rig.

So watch for them, we need to limit injuries to when we are doing stupid shit on the bikes, let’s get back to when we were our own worst enemy!