[MetroActive Features]

[ Features Index | North Bay | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Motorcycle

Open Mic

Ride Anxiety

By C. D. Payne

SPRING IS THE TIME when a young (or not so young) person's fancy turns to . . . motorcycles. What a pleasure to zip along our rural roads in the warm sunshine. Only one thing spoils the fun. Cars.

Get on a motorcycle and now even a passing Pinto seems like a menacing beast of prey. Will that Volvo pull out in front of you? Will that SUV change lanes right on top of you? Will that truck smack you from behind when you're stopped at a light?

Cruising at 50 on a motorcycle you have no seat belt, air bags, crumple zones, or side impact reinforcements. It's your body vs. large, multi-ton vehicles. A minor fender-bender in a car can be a major bone breaker on a bike.

One solution is to spend several thousand dollars on a helmet, boots, gloves, and an abrasion-resistant riding suit loaded with space-age armored pads. In theory you could take a spill at freeway speeds and walk away with only a few bruises. But for every fun jaunt across town you must suit up like a medieval knight.

None of that for your usual Harley rider, often seen in T-shirt, jeans, and barely legal minimalist helmet. Macho, to be sure, but I'm still traumatized by the story I read about the biker who took a curve too fast and ricocheted through some roadside shrubbery. His riding buddies spent the next half hour looking for his ears which had been neatly excised by the straps of his "beanie" helmet.

For years my approach was to tool around lonely roads at modest speeds on embarrassingly low displacement scooters and mopeds. I rode bikes that even wheels-desperate 14-year-olds would sneer at. No satisfying throb of a big vee twin for me. I preferred the whine of a 50 c.c. single straining to hit 25 mph.

It didn't help.

Cars, I discovered, are even scarier when you can't keep up with them. Impatient drivers were all too ready to pull around you on a blind curve, or blow right on by with their side mirrors whizzing past your ears like bullets.

So I sold my flame red Honda Spree. I unloaded my cherry 1978 Vespa moped. I even ditched my Zap electric bike.

Still, it's spring and I'll be out on the roads. I'm the guy in the big green F-250 blowing diesel exhaust in the faces of passing bikers.

Licensed driver C.D. Payne is the author of 'Youth In Revolt.'

[ North Bay | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the May 3-9, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate