Friday 15 August 2008

Impaired trumps quick AND smart!

While visiting the World War I battlefields in Europe last fall, we had occasion to enjoy a lovely dinner on an outdoor patio in the beautiful city of Ypres. Just as we arrived, a group of 4 bikers from England rode up on their various models of BMW and established themselves at the adjoining table. Of course I’m always interested in anything bike-related, and they were only 3 feet away, so eavesdropping was not a problem.

After all the usual stuff about where they’d ridden that day (all the way from London), the traffic (horrid), the weather (great), and what the best Belgian beer was (Chimay) two of the group got into a rather spirited discussion about which was safer – an old biker, or a young biker.

The younger of the two (mid-20’s I’d say) contended that the younger biker was safer due to his better reflexes and ability to identify, assess, and react to a hazardous situation more quickly. The older fellow (50’ish and a pilot) claimed bullshit; an older, more experienced biker would be more defensive and would get into fewer situations where quick reaction was required so he was a safer rider. (Being on the north side of 50 myself, I was nodding in agreement.)

This argument is as old as motorcycling itself (or flying, or skydiving, or scuba diving, or even driving) and so after more than an hour of debate there was no agreement. But what really made the whole thing noteworthy is that while they were having this discussion, they each consumed several pints of Chimay and then suited up, got on their motorcycles, and rode off – weaving ever so slightly down the road.

Moral: The safer biker is the one who, young or old, isn’t so stupid as to drink and ride.

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