Wednesday, 20 August 2008

I'd never ride a bike. It's too dangerous. My friend....

Why is it that as soon as a non-biking friend or acquaintance discovers that you ride a motorcycle, they feel compelled to tell you about their other friend/relative/mother-in-law who was recently killed/severely maimed in a motorcycle accident? And it’s not just a passing reference either. Oh no, it’s full-contact with all the gory details, the more gory the better, including the number of protruding bone fragments, cracked ribs, shattered vertebrae, months and days in the hospital. “And he was lucky!”

It is actually quite curious. When you are bragging about your new sports car you don’t get people quoting accident statistics for rag-tops over coupes. No, they talk about the sports car they will buy when they win the lottery, or the cross-country trip they took in ’69 in their friend’s Austin-Healy 3000. Bought a new fishing boat? People tell you about their own boat or the great fishing trips they’ve experienced, not the number of drownings in Ontario lakes this summer.

But motorcycles trigger a different response. I suspect it’s because the average person has little or no knowledge of the sport or the rider’s world, and so, in a misguided attempt to connect, they fall back on what they do know – Uncle Bert’s unfortunate introduction to the driver’s door of a Chevy ½-ton back home in Lower Armpit last August. That incident is probably the only reason they are aware that Uncle Bert even had a motorcycle, or in some cases, that Uncle Bert even existed, but it’s the only motorcycle story they know so you get the whole enchilada.

So if you are a non-rider who has happened to stumble into this blog and this post, do us all a favour. When someone “outs” themselves as a motorcyclist, the proper response is to express an interest in the bike, or motorcycling in general (fake it if necessary), not to remind the rider that we are all mortals and are but on this earth for a short and finite period of time. You’ll be surprised how much more relaxed the conversation will be.

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