Over the last two weeks, two really great guys that I know that live thousands of miles apart have suffered catastrophic crashes on the back of their bikes. The reason isn’t weather, or distracted drivers, or even a random system failure. Nope.
In fact, it is as far from those “traditional” problems as you can be.
Both men had life-threatening medical issues while riding – one a stroke and one a heart attack. In both cases, the result was not just the medical crisis but the ensuing crash as a result.
So how are you feeling?
It’s no secret that we, as a group, are getting older. The “average” rider in North America is now pushing 60 years and the average buyer in a Harley dealership is 54, despite Mother Davidson’s stated goal of bringing the next generation of riders to the market with 100 new models in the next 10 years.
Add to the fact that most of us are men and we have an inherent dislike of doctors and anything to do with medicine. We all get on the back of the bike and feel bulletproof, so why should we go to the doctor for a physical? The very nature of motorcycling is that of the individual – out in the weather, on the bike (as opposed to “in” a car).
When you shoot an aneurysm at 75 mph, though, because you’re too damn stubborn to go to the doctor and keep track of your health, all the bets are off as to how long it might be before the first responders to the crash can quit worrying about the crash-related injuries and start to figure out that you had a stroke. Or a heart attack. Lost time, in this case, means lost lives, no matter how fast they can get you to the hospital.
So with all that said, there are two reasons that you need to make sure that you are actually healthy enough to ride – number one, laying the bike down when “the big one” hits you is going to suck, big time and if you lose consciousness before that, you are going to be one big road rash – ragdolling on the pavement and being unable to protect yourself means that a “survivable” crash might very well become a fatal one. Number two is more selfish – collectively, “we” as riders are all viewed increasingly as bad apples. None of the folks in cages have nearly as much freedom as we do – from safety gear to emissions to parking – and if you think that those freedoms are guaranteed, then you might have already have had that stroke.
Take the time now, while many of us are in the throes of winter, to have your health evaluated and take action to ensure that you can keep it. It’s a great time in history to be able to ride – they ARE making new roads, the bikes are more reliable than ever, and we are living longer than any point in history.
Stick around a little longer and enjoy the ride.