Tuesday, November 28, 2006


No matter how long you ride, the death of a fellow motorcyclist is never easy to take

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Odessa Sportbike Group lost yet another young rider to an all-too-common crash occurrence: Loss of control in a turn at high speed. And no matter how many times I've seen it happen over the last 16 years, it never gets any easier to take.

Fortunately, I wasn't riding with the group in question on the day the crash I allude to happened. I rode alone all day, which is getting to be my practice more and more, as wave after wave of teenage newby saddles up on the latest in two-wheeled technology, armed with no more riding knowledge than simply how to twist a throttle. Summers are the worst for youngsters hurting and or killing themselves on sportbikes, but the events of last weekend are a stark reminder that it can -- and does -- happen all year 'round.

I didn't know the rider in question very well. He was new to the group, was in his early twenties, and rode a brand new repli-racer 600. But his death sickened me nonetheless. Any time some common and easily avoidable motorcycle death involving a young rider comes to my attention, I always shake my head in bewilderment -- largely because it's always the same things over and over again; young rider misjudges a corner and impales himself on a fencepost; young rider chooses bad lane positioning and gets creamed by a left-turning cager; young rider loops his bike out; young rider goes too fast in the wrong environment. The list goes on, but commonality is always a factor, and it never ceases to amaze me. It's like watching a Swiss clock. Don't expect a deviation, because you won't be getting one.

I used to write off these kinds of crashes as simply the gene pool cleansing itself, but as I've grown older and more mature, I've come to realize that we've lost a lot of otherwise intelligent, valuable people who simply let the thrill of motorcycling cause bad decision-making, leading to a fatal moment. We're all guilty of such behavior in one area of our lives or another from time to time, but the stakes are high when it comes to motorbikes.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post, other than to use it as a mechanism for venting all these thoughts. So I guess I'll just say good night, and offer a prayer of peace and well-wishes to the fallen rider's family.

The wonder and awe provided by motorcycling should be tempered with knowledge, training, and a culture of pilotesque seriousness. Until that happens, we'll continue to see young riders do the same silly things over and over again on motorbikes, and pay a great price for it. And perhaps that's the greatest tragedy of all -- that each generation of new riders seems to learn absolutely nothing from the hard lessons of the generation before it.


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