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Old 03-25-2015, 09:32 AM   #1
budman
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Not my time… this time - Moments in time and chance

I was out riding with some very experience riders over the last couple weekends and came across a moment in time that made me think.
Actually I thought about it the whole weekend as it happened on Friday. Still thinking about it as I am writing about it....

I am an experienced moto dude with decent skills. I like to ride a nice sporting pace. No need to accelerate to the moon between the corners rather I like to take note of where I am once in a while and enjoy peeking at mother nature. However I am on my game always in the corners, over hills, anywhere there is a driveway or other potential hazards.

I have also seen enough experience riders hurt or killed to know that all the years of riding, training, reading and learning cannot overcome ‘chance’.

There is a saying “don’t out ride your sightlines”. Well that to me is something I choose NOT to do at times for several reasons.
• Keeping cars of my ass in the hills. (OK that was easy..).
• Riding a fun pace in twistees, where if you really did slow to a pace where you are going at an appropriate speed for your sightline you would be going so slow it would be kind of senseless for me to be riding. (I will make adjustments if I don’t know the road or if I am following someone else that does – Riding is a fluid experience and adjusting always to conditions and influences is part of why I consider myself experienced).

There is another saying that “When it is your time it is your time.”

Well over the course of these couple rides I think I came within a second of “my time”. If not me then one of my friends.
Shaking these off has always been pretty easy for me… this time it is a little different so that is why I am sharing it.

Here is what happened.
Rolling on 128 nice pace.. nothing crazy. Maybe 55mph or 60mph.
Straight two lane portion cresting a hill. As the lead rider came up to the top of the hill I noted that a jeep or SUV had just completed a left turn as the lead rider went over the top. Pretty close margin, but nary a hiccup from the rider ahead of me, who likely cleared the SUV by about 1 second as he crested the hill.

I thought to myself that is a dumbass place to have an intersection….

Well one more second later when I got to the top I noted.. there is not a road. Rather a gravel turn out space where said SUV had performed an illegal U turn on the downside of a blind hill. WAY TO GO FUCK STICK!! Now I have already had a hill cause me to break bones when a young man when I found a pickup with a horse trailer going into a DW just on the other side of a hill. No way to see him. Maybe he was 15 yards from the top of the hill. I came over at 50mph that day and panic braking left me nowhere near being able to stop and I broadsided the horse trailer. (Broken Collarbone, concussion, a bit of shock – I was 16 yo.)

Now here is the interesting part that made me write this thread.

I did not flinch.. the rider in front did not flinch. No mention was made during our two stops.

I have had other closer calls for sure. One notable last year:

Mini van in my lane because of a bicycle last year on Stage Rd. left me having to make emergency sort of maneuver to find the 3’ of road that was not blocked by the mini van at 40mph or so. That again did not include a flinch, but did include that sinking holy shit feeling 100’ down the road.

However this one hit something in me.. Maybe because we were in the area where Terry was killed by an illegal U turner.
Maybe I am getting older and my lobes are finally connecting…
Maybe because my younger son is now expecting a little guy and I would like to meet him…..
Maybe I am just more of a chicken…. (Have fun with that one )

I still believe when it is your time it is your time and life ends when it should no matter what you are doing.. sort of. That feeling seems to be fading. After what happen 2 years ago now and the follow up surgeries and stuff my perspective seems to be shifting. I have noted that I have been trying to keep life’s feelings the same, but it is a bit different. Part of it I guess is appreciating the days ahead more than just the moment.

Moments however are what make life worth living. Motorcycles provide so much enhancement to living in the moment. I love being inside my helmet yet part of the world. Nothing else really comes close to that feeling at my age. I would hate to have that tarnished and this time we had a 1 second gap. Good karma… luck?? Let me think on that a moment and I will get back to you.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:36 AM   #2
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Glad you didn't become a hood ornament, Dennis.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:39 AM   #3
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Yup, lotsa miles generates muscle memory.

I was approaching, at a rapid pace, an overloaded pickup towing a trailer filled with cardboard for recycling. Of course a half dozen large cartons went airborne to come down immediatly in front of my bike.

Never touched the brake or shift lever as I did ballet moves through the cardboard obstacle course to emerge on the other side without an accelerated heart rate. Muscle memory. The body can outperform the rational brain occasionally.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:46 AM   #4
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Nice post Dennis. Definitely food for thought. I understand Terry's riding was more conservative like mine, yet he was killed anyway. Best we can do is play the odds but it's no guarantee.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:47 AM   #5
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You could be in your driveway when a truck falls on you. Some things just happen. Almost like there is some unseen person picks when it is your time to go.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:48 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting your thoughts, Dennis. Riding is a thinking person's game, perilous as it is.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:49 AM   #7
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Thanks for sharing, good thoughts for everyone who rides.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:52 AM   #8
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Riding within your sightlines is not boring to me as there are plenty of places where the turns have open sightlines and the pace can be increased accordingly.

There is pleasure at arriving home safely without a single "oh oh" moment.

Glad you guys had no issue with an all too common event.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:53 AM   #9
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I disagree completely with the idea of "when it's your time, it's your time". If that were really the case, none of us would wear gear, helmets, get training, etc.

I think it's ever more important to hone your skills and your awareness , and to make a conscious effort to watch the risk you expose yourself to - the bad thing in riding is when your taste for risk isn't matched by your actions.

I've got a much longer post I'll make on the topic of risk and risk management - just need the time to type it all up.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:53 AM   #10
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Glad you all made it through safely. Sounds like there may be some risk tolerance re-calibration going on in your head. I still struggle to embrace that, but I generally figure out I'm a lot happier when I quit letting ego stand in the way of my evolution as a rider (not to imply that YOU are, just a personal observation).

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Old 03-25-2015, 09:55 AM   #11
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Good post Budman, we always have to be thoughtful and thankful for being able to ride a motorcycle at any level. It's important to ride well within your skill set/limits of the bike/limits of the road... But most importantly to appreciate the riding, scenery, feelings that riding a motorcycle produces...

That's why we ride. And when these things do happen, just know that "wrong place and the wrong time happens" and, "right place at the right time happens". But it's important for us to be as prepared as possible when these thing happen in either case (ie... WEAR YOUR GEAR PEOPLE, and DONT RIDE LIKE MORONS) We've got to enjoy everything while we have it.

Keep riding guys/gals, keep living, keep loving and be happy with all the times in between.

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Old 03-25-2015, 10:02 AM   #12
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Excellent post, Budman. I don't really agree with the fate aspect of it, but I agree that there is a certain amount of chance in all aspects of life. Regardless of skill level, any of us could die at any time in any of a number of ways.

We can do a lot of things to mitigate the risk, but it is still there. Glad this even ended up being a tale of caution and not a tale of woe.
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Old 03-25-2015, 10:11 AM   #13
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That stirred a couple of memories: I have only once or twice had the "nonchalant" moment when I otherwise would have puckered a little star shaped swatch of vinyl right up off my seat.

What does that mean? Can we be so tuned-in at that moment that in a split-second we have unconsciously calculated the all the dynamics surrounding the situation and taken (or not taken) action to correct our trajectory and been completely at ease knowing we'll get past or through the event? I'm sure we are at that moment.

Is it "muscle memory" as Pushrod said? It's certainly experience. I think it's good to reflect on how a moment like that could (does) affect our lives, just as budman has written. Obviously we're not as in control as we'd like to think.

It's got me thinking about it right now.
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Old 03-25-2015, 10:57 AM   #14
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No question there's a major element of chance involved. This is why we do everything possible (within reason, and our desire to have fun) to mitigate risk.
But yeh, you could get killed riding below the speed limit. You could also get killed not riding at all.

Glad you and your friends made it through that one Dennis.
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Old 03-25-2015, 11:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Z3n View Post
I disagree completely with the idea of "when it's your time, it's your time". If that were really the case, none of us would wear gear, helmets, get training, etc.

I think it's ever more important to hone your skills and your awareness , and to make a conscious effort to watch the risk you expose yourself to - the bad thing in riding is when your taste for risk isn't matched by your actions.

I've got a much longer post I'll make on the topic of risk and risk management - just need the time to type it all up.

You said it supremely well...
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