Dec 30, 2014

Going around, Coming Around

Last August, I wrote a bit about "following distance" (Following Distance and Me) that included a sad bit about an MSF student who disliked everything about our harping on the hazards of motorcycling. She hated helmets, riding gear, paying attention to other students on the range (and had to be pulled aside a couple of times and warned that "any more of that crap and you're outta here"), and pretty much anything that didn't have to do with making her look cool on a motorcycle. To my disgust, she squeaked through the license test at the end of the course with the dead (literally) minimum of riding skills and pretty much thumbed her nose at us as she swaggered away after getting her permit stamped and blowing off a warning that she was not even close to a good enough rider to survive on the road. It didn't take her long to prove the coaches right. For a few weeks she was big news since her mother tried to make her death someone else's fault in the press. When that failed, she shifted to blaming the hazards of motorcycling and tried to focus attention on how awful two wheels are, statistically. That's probably always going to be a popular tactic.

A couple of weeks ago, we were looking for quotes on windows for our new house and one of the salesmen turned out to be that kid's brother. It wasn't the experience you might have expected. Apparently, he helped pick out her Kawasaki 250R, hoping the superior brakes and mild engine might help keep her alive. She, of course, wanted a R6 or a 650, but he managed to damp that insanity at the dealership. He, however, absolutely disagreed with his mother that his sister had any business on a motorcycle. She was a train wreak in a car, on a bicycle, and on foot and was convinced that the laws of physics did not apply to her superior being. He, on the other hand, was on his way to Iraq and didn't have a lot of leverage.

It was a really uncomfortable conversation for me. My feeling for her family and for her created a sad mix of Darwinism and sympathy. Motorcycles, regardless of the stupid crap the MSF/MIC wildly hope, are not for everyone. It's one thing to buy one and a whole different thing to ride one well enough to survive traffic.


Trobairitz said...

Sadly not everyone is cut out for motorcycling. Much better if they can realize it before a major crash and/or death, but alas that isn't always the case.

I know in hubby's Team Oregon teachings they have had to pass people when they barely squeak by, but the thought of them on the street on two wheels is terrifying.

Conchscooter said...

I'm much more frustrated by the dopes who get car licenses. They can kill me. Unfortunates on motorcycles can too, but my odds are better.
This discussion leads to the nanny state question so I'll leave it at that.

Unknown said...

In the UK, if you take your driving test in a car with an automatic transmission, your licence will be restricted to vehicles so equipped. Leaving aside those who due to a physical restriction cannot operate a manual, I've long been of the opinion that if you don't have the spare mental capacity to cope with a manual, then you don't have enough capacity to drive safely.

Steve Williams said...

Your reflections and commentary on this issue of whether riding is for everyone is dead on, no pun intended.

I've come to believe that a successful rider (safe and alive) has to have enough humility to recognize their limitations and their vulnerability to an uncontrollable world. Without that they're just in line for disaster, usually self inflicted.


Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

T.W. Day said...

The whole "nanny state" argument regarding motorcycles seems to be pretty much a wimp's hideout these days; ABATE/AMA and the rest of the crowd who either want to drive motorcycles from public roads or are too damn dumb to know that's what they're doing. We license pilots, truck drivers, and bus drivers with extra requirements because of the skills required and risks involved. SCUBA, skydiving, and glider piloting is self-regulated for the same reasons. Motorcycles are obviously excessively dangerous and not for the average bonehead who sees himself as Captain America.