Last week, like the good boy I am, I got the whole family cleaned up and went to visit my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday (Yeah, we have it a little later than our Canadian friends). We ate too much, we laughed, and when the feast was finally done and the second piece of pie consumed with a cup of coffee and an after-dinner smoke accomplished on the back porch with my Dad, I sauntered into the living room and took a look at the local paper.
Idiot bikers made the paper again.
This time, it was a punk on a crotch rocket and a suspended license.
He’d picked up his girlfriend (why is that we in the cruiser world have “old ladies” and the sport bike guys have “girlfriends”?) and while riding on the interstate highway, she fell off the bike and was struck by a car following them.
This took place in another state than the one I live in and it doesn’t require riders to have on a helmet. Neither the man or the woman was wearing a helmet.
What got to me about the whole thing was that the guy had a history of traffic violations on the bike and was driving on a suspended license. What’s worse, the girl’s mother said that “he was always real careful when she rode with him.”
Nobody is perfect, but when you decide to put a passenger on your bike, you just shouldered the most awesome responsibility since parenthood. And he failed miserably and a girl died because of it. If you can’t take care of yourself on a bike (and having a suspended license and multiple traffic citations is, to me, indicative of that fact) then take an Uber. How many times do we have to see this stuff, guys? How many of us have to get scraped off the pavement before we wake up and realize that the motorists aren’t paying attention and we aren’t either? If I see one more 55 year old man pound down a few beers at the pub and then get on his bike to wobble home I’m going to have an aneurism.
And yet we let our buddies do it every weekend. This guy didn’t kill just his girlfriend, he got lazy. He didn’t pay attention. He didn’t teach her how to be a good passenger. Hell, maybe he didn’t know how to be a good rider, either, I mean, the stretch of road they were on is straight – no curves and smooth pavement. You have to work to lose control – and I’ve ridden it dozens if not hundreds of times over the years.
The end result? A family that goes into the holidays without the daughter they raised. A kid that will probably do some time for being an idiot and will never be able to live down the fact that he killed his girlfriend.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we can be Billy Bad Ass and all pretend we’re Brando in The Wild One, but we’re not. We have jobs, mortgages, and a responsibility to police ourselves. You know when you’ve been drinking. You know if you can handle a passenger. You know when you can hot dog and when to be straight.
Quit pretending that you can if you can’t and keep the shiny side up. And when you see your boy doing something stupid, tell him get his head in the game. The stakes are just too high to screw around. We may not all be good enough to be the tailgunner, but we can all be better than we are.