The time it took for you to read the title of this blog, roughly 3 seconds, is all the time needed to lose your life. A few years ago I was in Rapid City, SD headed to the Black Hills and was setting at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green. A rider passed through the intersection and he looked toward me and nodded his head as if to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” That was all the time needed for the car in front of him to stop and he rode into the back of the car.
His injuries were minimal, but the bike needed to go to the shop for repair. While waiting on the police to show up we talked and I learned he was a rider with years of experience and this was his first mishap. The split second it took for him to look at me was all the time it took for the convergence of unfortunate circumstances to meld together and result in an accident.
Riding is risky business and we, as riders, are responsible for reducing that risk as best we can. Most assuredly during those years of riding he had, as we all have, allowed his attention to be diverted for a second or two while acknowledging someone while riding or take a few extra seconds to look at the scenic view to the left or right. But, in previous instances other variables did not enter into the mix, like the car stopping unexpectedly or a deer dashing out to get to the other side of the highway.
We rely on our riding skill and experience to stay between the ditches and to keep the shiny side of our motorcycle pointed toward the sky while we ride. These are important for sure, but I think attitude and focused attention are more important. Call me rude if you like, but I will never wave at or acknowledge an oncoming rider while I’m in city traffic. I assume every car within 100 feet of me is ready to implement a well-developed plan to run me down and then take a selfie over my lifeless body. We have all had close calls with “cagers” and the only reason we lived through it was because we were 100% focused on the task at hand and evaded the assault. What happens when that “close call” presents itself during that short span of seconds when we are momentarily distracted by some inconsequential thing?
Stay focused, stay alert and always ride as if everyone is out to get you. It’s a strong bet they are indeed looking for an opportunity for the perfect selfie and your lifeless body would make a fine backdrop. Don’t give them the opportunity. You can’t expect the “cager” to be focused, they’re too busy talking on their cell.