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Monday, April 24, 2006

Dog Bone Story of The Day

Saturday at our Open House brought the Mountain Shadow Riders some interesting characters. I think I won the “dog bone” contest!

Towards the end of the day, I was talking to one of my riding friends and a group of folks passed by. I said “hi” to a passerby and he stopped. He was carrying a helmet and showed it to me.

“See my helmet?” He asked.

Yes, I did. It was scratched pretty badly.

“What happened?” I asked.

That was the $64,000 question!

Mr. Helmet proceeded to give me a blow by blow tirade of his motorcycle crash. He thought it was a good idea to start motorcycling. He’s a big fellow and decided to start riding on a Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic. Nice bike, of course, since I own one.

I should have suspected something was amiss when he told me that he was a big fellow and felt that taking the MSF course on those bitty 250cc motorcycles would be highly inappropriate. Besides, he commented, his neighbor has been safely riding without a crash for thirty five years…so why not save the $200 for the class, avoid the embarrassment of riding an obviously much beneath him tiny-sized motorcycle and be taught by a fine and upstanding citizen of the motorcycle community—his neighbor?

He was out street riding when he crashed. Evidently, he lost control of the bike and got it somehow stuck in a rut and managed to start pushing himself in two complete revolutions (I believe he was basically doing an uncontrolled burnout because his front wheel was stuck) before he came to a halt. I find that odd simply because his statement before was “well, I wasn’t going that fast”.

Well, maybe not, but I suspect when he got stuck, he twisted the throttle which resulted in the two complete revolutions.

I guess his neighbor, Mr. Never Crashed, failed to teach him about that—LET GO OF THE THROTTLE IF YOU LAY THE BIKE DOWN. Actually, I think letting go of the bike altogether is the best idea. I want that machinery to get as far away from me if I’m involved in a crash.

To make a long story short, come to find out Mr. Helmet is a doctor and felt it necessary to give me a blow by blow account of the whole ordeal—including his $9,000 medivac flight. I’m thinking that $200 MSF Course is a bargain in comparison!

I didn’t say anything because at that point, I wanted out of the conversation and didn’t want to appear rude. After all, we all have our stories to tell and unlike the internet; if the reader wants the experience to end it’s not a matter of clicking the close dialog box!

At any rate, the whole conversation was bizarre. While the MSF Course is not a substitution for street experience, it does give the novice or non-rider a safe, closed course to start riding. The purpose of riding the smaller motorcycles is obvious: to give the interested rider the experience of riding but not too much power. Not that it keeps people from injury; people have been injured taking the MSF course. However, to begin entry to motorcycling in a closed environment taught by certified instructor is better than no training at all.

After all, he was supposedly a doctor. I’m sure that I wouldn’t let him operate on me if I knew he was trained by his neighbor—even if his neighbor was a world-renowned surgeon with 35 years of experience with no deaths. A weekend class with the neighbor on major surgery…yeah, that’s enough—NOT!!

The State of California has an interesting report regarding the effectiveness of the MSF Course. It’s an interesting read, and the biggest point I took was the study found that crash statistics of riders who did and didn’t take the course in the first six months was quite marked. It is noted that the study was highly unscientific because of the logistics of the test itself…they admitted they could not use a group of novice riders, give them a license and turn them on the street vs. giving another group of novice riders the MSF Course and then comparing the statistics.

I will agree with Mr. Helmet that the course may not have prevented the crash; however, I do know the accident wouldn’t have happened on that particular day. I know this because he was on the street practicing to take his motorcycle license exam that was scheduled for the next day!!!

Then he had the nerve to be outraged because he got a ticket for being an unlicensed rider.

That’s right; he was an unlicensed rider on public streets. Not only did he put his life in danger, he was placing other lives in danger as well as further damaging the reputation of responsible riders.

The story doesn’t end here, however. He admitted that the helmet saved his life and then asked if I rode without a helmet. On occasion I don’t and so much admitted to that. I agreed with him that my face would not be quite a beautiful if it encountered pavement in a crash. However, it is still my choice just like it was his right in thinking the MSF Course would have done him any good.

At that point, he just concluded that as fun as motorcycling sounds, it just wasn’t for him. I agreed with him and wished him well.

I suppose there is a lesson there, even if it just makes him more aware of motorcyclists.

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine


KT Did said...

You crack me up!!! Mr. Helmet needed an encounter with you.... hope he does doctoring better than negotiating of the ride.... good thing he realized it though...
Great post Christine.

ellopez said...

too too funny C.
mr. helmet sounds like one less person on the road thinking that motorcycling is SO easy. i'm actually glad mr. helmet decided not to ride. we may be safer off. now if he'd just put that scaple down...

Biker Betty said...

Christine, you have it so right about weighing the cost of the course to an emergency room visit & medivac flight. It's just too bad he didn't take the MSR course to begin with. His whole experience would most likely have been a more positive one. Bill & I were so glad we took the course before ever buying our first bike and we can never say enough good stuff about the course or others like it. But sometimes when you cut corners, you pay much more than you would have if you had just done it right the first time.