I <heart> My Helmet2004-08-31 21:14:21
There are few things in life that feel as good as riding a motorcycle sans helmet. The roar of the engine, the feeling of wind on your face and in your hair . . . it feels good. A little bit too good, really -- it's more than a little bit like masturbation1: do it once, and you will do it again. Dangerous? You betcha. C'est la vie.
For Christmas, though, the kids got me a gold-tinted visor, which has resulted in a lot more helmet-wearing for me because it looks so fuckin' cool :) And it's fun: I can see out -- but people can't see in. Which appears to seriously freak out the misc "intersection beggars" (I'm not going to call them "homeless people" because I've become convinced that the majority of them aren't homeless) I encounter. For some arcane reason, that guilt-inducing reach-for-your-wallet look they give everyone won't penetrate the visor; instead it bounces right back at 'em. Okay, really I think it's simply the inability to make eye-contact that does it, but regardless of the reason, it's kinda fun.
So I've cut back quite a bit on my helmet-less riding.
But it leads me to one of the (many) things that has freaked me out about the death of my in-laws this past June: they were heading East on a two lane road in a minivan. Heading West on the same road was a semi followed by a pickup truck. Going up a hill, the driver of the pickup crossed the double-yellow line in a vain attempt to pass the semi, and met my in-laws at the top of the hill. Both parties were traveling at (probably) 65mph or faster.
I've visited the site of the accident and seen the road and debris and the skidmarks, and I researched reaction times and did some math and what it boils down to is this: there was nothing they could do to avoid the collision.
To me, the spooky part of this isn't that there are stupid people out there on the roads. As a red-blooded American who's been driving for almost 30 years now, I've long felt that if I keep alert and drive carefully and to the best of my ability, I can avoid stupid people and the accidents they cause. No, the spooky part is realizing that I am wrong: there are some accidents you simply cannot avoid. Not all of them, and probably not even most of them. But eventually, you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's Game Over. And there's nothing you can do about it.
1 Only a lot more public. And instead of worrying about someone walking in and embarrassing you, you worry about getting your head slammed into the road and cracking open your skull and splattering your brains all over the pavement in a big, gooey mess.