Article of the Week – Live to Ride, Ride to LivePosted: June 25, 2011
-by Todd Quigley
I think we’ve all heard the phrase “Live to Ride, Ride to Live”. I know I’ve heard it a lot. I usually see it associated with Harley-Davidson, though it has often been associated with motorcycling in general. In light of a recent pair of unrelated motorcycle accidents, I found myself trying to assuage my wife’s fears of me getting killed in a motorcycle accident. This phrase came to mind.
Let’s look at it in two parts. First, “Live to Ride”. This implies that the purpose (maybe not the sole purpose) in life is to ride. I can agree with that; there is nothing quite like the feel of riding down a back road somewhere soaking in the view, the smell of the outdoors, and the thrill of hurtling down a road on the seat of a motorcycle. I find myself finding time to ride any time I can. I also find myself watching the weather closely, hoping it will stay sunny for a weekend ride I’ve got planned. All in the name of the ride.
Let’s look at the second part now; “Ride to Live”. Now this one can have many meanings. Riding to live being like breathing to live. A requirement to one’s continued existence. It can also be read as riding being the only way to live, as in life isn’t worth living without the ride. However, the way I take it is this; Ride in a way that you continue to live.
I don’t think many people take it that way. In fact I’m sure that many don’t. It’s one of the reasons why I write this blog. How am I sure that many don’t think about riding to live in this way? Avoidable accidents. The key word there is “avoidable”. Many accidents I see on the news, the internet, or hear about from others are completely and totally avoidable. I hate to say this, but people need to look at the facts. As a motorcyclist I am at a greater risk to injury in an accident; we are exposed with no metal bodywork surrounding us, we are not safely belted into a car, we don’t have airbags to prevent us from being hurt. We need to ride like we know this!
One recent accident involved a motorcycle turning on a green arrow when an SUV blew through a red light and hit him. The motorcyclist died shortly thereafter. We are all sad for the motorcyclist and his family. Many people criticize him for being at fault just because he’s on a motorcycle. I criticize him for not being sure that traffic had in fact stopped. I don’t go through green arrows blindly. I cannot count the times I’ve seen someone run a red light. I’ll slow to a stop and check before continuing. Sure I may piss off the guy behind me, but I don’t want to get hit.
Another accident involved a couple on a motorcycle who were killed when the car ahead of them stopped suddenly on the interstate. Again, I am sorry for their families. Again, we are all sad for them. Again, many people criticize them for being motorcyclists. Again, I criticize them for not riding safely; they were following too closely. In a car, we often forget about following distance. Cars are equipped with anti-lock brakes, crumple zones, airbags, and seat belts. The price for following too closely isn’t high as it is on a motorcycle. On a motorcycle, following too closely can kill you. Easily. I practice emergency stops. I have a good feel for how fast my motorcycle can stop. I follow a great distance behind the car in front of me. Yes, the gap is large so people tend to move over into it. I just slow down a bit, opening the gap.
My wife also said, “well you can’t plan for everything that could happen”. Actually, you can. You can practice for bad conditions and emergency stops, you can ride as if someone is in fact about to pull out in front of you, you can wear all your gear, you can pack an emergency kit. Basically you can ride as if someone is trying to kill you. That might be a bit extreme for some. But the truth hurts, THOUSANDS of motorcyclist die each year. Someone is trying kill us; we are.
Ride to live my friends. Yield at intersections, keep your distance, watch for others (they often do what you don’t expect), slow down on curves, practice your riding skills. Ride to live.