My mom is not going to like this post. I doubt very much that my dad will either, but I am somewhat obligated by circumstance…
There are things in life that are inherently dangerous. Hang gliding, playing football, even crossing the street can be viewed as dangerous. Sure there are different levels of risk involved and everything is relative, but life itself is a risky endeavor. And one thing we all share is our ultimate demise - sooner or later. Riding a motorcycle is among those activities that most would label as dangerous. It’s not for everyone, even for those who are not normally averse to personal risk-taking.
I have been riding a motorcycle on and off since 1982. I have had my share of close calls. And though it seems as if there are more motorcycles on the road today, the great danger is still largely out of the rider’s control. Cars and their drivers can and often do look right through an approaching motorcycle as though it’s not even there - and then proceed accordingly… right into our paths. When I was younger, I didn’t believe that cars were the problem. Rather I believed that by pushing my capabilities as well as those of my machine, I was the primary source of danger… that and a little loose gravel on a twisty mountain road.
And perhaps I was not too far off the mark; maybe I was just lucky to live through those years. But I don’t ride that way anymore. Yet I am still acutely aware of the external danger that still exists - cars. Although when I ride I am always on the lookout for inattentive motorists, I can’t possibly drive for everyone. There has to be a certain amount of faith that my abilities combined with some degree of good fortune will keep me safe. So far, so good - and I log more miles today that I ever have. Furthermore, I ride with equally skilled and attentive riders, some of which have had closer calls than I. But the risk still remains.
On Sunday night one of those friends I sometimes ride with - a skilled and attentive rider - was taken down by a careless motorist. I have heard talk that the driver was drunk, but I don’t know and at this point it really doesn’t much matter. Just a few hours ago he succumbed to his injuries. He was just too broken up. Big Mike was only 46 years old. I saw him just prior to the accident, a commanding presence in any room. He was an extremely talented musician - a giant of a man both figuratively and literally. He loved life and he loved to ride. He shared recently that his mother did not like his motorcycle - likely for the same reason my mother doesn’t like mine - but he pointed out that as an adult he could make that decision (and by inference, other dangerous decisions) for himself.
Unfortunately his mother’s worst fears came to pass. But hopefully she will realize, as we all should, that he was living his life. He was extracting fulfillment from it in a way that perhaps many cannot understand. Life is full of risks and no one wants to live in a bubble. I know that when his motorcycle was in the shop recently, he longed to ride and when he got it back he had a smile a mile wide. Motorcycle riding is not for everyone, but neither is jumping from a bridge with a rubber band tied to your ankles, neither is being a cop or a soldier in Iraq, but for some these are the things that make us feel alive. In some small sense at least, isn’t that what life is all about?
Rest in Peace, Big Mike.
Ride on brother, ride on…