So I’ve really missed writing lately. I remember when I could just have a thought and bang out a post. It was cathartic to be able to throw out something banal and humorous that would be rattling around the old dome. But now that I have a family and I have become aware of the potential violation of the privacy of those around me, I have become more leery of putting myself out there. Plus I spend so much of my time at work, most of the banal humorous stories have to be predicated on an in-depth knowledge of what I do. Again the privacy issue.
Now though, I think I have found something I can write about. Something that I feel I have something to contribute to. Not a self important opinion, or some ridiculous observation, but an honest impart of things I have learned. Things I really think to be true. Of course, as this is Motoproponent’s Weblog, those things are about motorcycles.
As I continue to be an athiest evangelist for the Word of Moto, my influence is manifesting itself in the form of many questions. Questions from people seeking to dip a toe in the shallow end of the riding pool by embarking on the trip to become a motorcycle commuter. It seems like an easier gap to bridge to tell the wife/fiancé/girlfriend that a motorcycle is going to save time, money, and wear and tear on the minivan, than to pitch the wind-in-your-(receding)hair freedom of the open road. It’s also a lot easier to picture yourself as a work-a-day utilitarian commuter, than a badass, hard hittin’ biker babe or Motorcycle Mama.
Here in the Bay Area we have to most motorcycle commute inducing weather and legislation I have ever had the fortune to live with. In fact it is THE reason why I moved back here in the first place. A conversation with my daughter recently made me realize that I have been riding for nearly 20 years. 20 years!!. Soon my motorcycling experience will be old enough to drink. My new commute has been going on for nearly a year now. I find myself shaking my helmet at my temporary traveling companions as I think to myself I have something they should know in my head. I see in them the brash young self important and entitled motorcyclist I used to be.Well here it is.
Woo-sah. Relax. Learn the meaning of almost and recognize your lack of influence.
As a motorcyclist you are only in control of what is between the bottom of your tires and the top of your helmet. (sometimes it’s more like influence than control, really) You need to recognize that no amount of engine revving, or obscene gestures will change the behavior of another commuter. There will never be an instance when some douche pinches you in the split (my own term for motorists moving close to the adjacent car to keep you from splitting lanes) and your engine revving and bird flipping compels him/her to take a self assessment and change their evil ways. There is never a time when the motorist feels that they have done something wrong. You, be being on a motorcycle and splitting lanes, deserve what ever you get in their eyes. There is no sympathy and no awareness of your vulnerability. Even though you cannot exert your will against them, you are the bigger person. Just turn the other cheek and take solace in the fact that you will live longer and be happier and smarter for your chosen method of motion. (I will address the living longer and happier/smarter claim in later posts. for now just trust me on this one)
The other element of this moto pacifism is to realize that no amount of “fault” is worth any amount of pain. This was the most difficult term to come to. In looking back on my motorcycle accidents none of them were my “fault”. I was just moving along through time and space when the actions of another resulted in damage to my body and property. It’s easy to place blame and continue going about my day. But no insurance payout really returns you to “whole”. There will always be some lingering joint pain or a future back pain. Your bike cannot sustain any significant damage and truly be “good as new”. You most certainly did not “teach them a lesson”.But the most jagged pill to swallow is that all of those accidents were avoidable. If I had broken one of the links in the chain of events that led to the motorcycle resting on something other than it’s tires and kickstand. There were several actions or inactions that were solely my decision, that would have prevented that loss of blood from my body and cash from my bank account.
So the TLDR crib notes: Let it go. A 400 pound moto can do nothing to a 4000 pound minivan except make the driver mad enough to vote away your ability to ride. Arrive at work happy to be alive and be a model for others to use as a positive example to sway their decision to ride in our favor. It’s us against them out there, and every one of “us” is one less of “them”