And the deer strikes again. You all remember the classic Walt Disney film with the cute little animals running all around the forest. The movie of course focused on the main character, Bambi (hence the name of the film) but included other wildlife to break the monotony. But regardless, the deer was the main attraction. It was cute, cuddly, and perhaps the most memorable cartoon animal to ever grace our big screens and television sets.
But Bambi is back. She got a little bigger and decided to take some of her aggression out on a young man in northwest Indiana. Bradley Shelly, of Valparaiso, Indiana was cruising around on his motorbike around 4:00 this morning when all of a sudden had an encounter with the famed creature. Not wearing a helmet Shelly was thrown from the bike and would later die from crash related injuries. Police also stated that high speeds were involved in the collision that would be an aid to the death of Bradley. But outside the fact that he was going fast, and outside the fact that he was not wearing his helmet, let me go on a little soapbox about this subject.
Before I even begin I have to apologize to Josh Corken. He has a bike and takes his riding quite serious (and I am sure he always wears a helmet) but I just know that this article will upset him in one way or another. He and I have been bickering back and forth about the potential moon landings for the last week or so and also on what we consider the point of a blog, so I know that bringing up this touchy subject around him will cause some stir. So please, Josh, take this in stride and listen to the next few paragraphs when you read my opinions on the above case.
I used to have a bike. I was young and wanted to have a motorcycle one summer to ride around town and to “pick up chicks” with. I actually had several ladies that rode on the back of that ride with me and I loved driving it all summer long. I rode it to school, to work, and to cruise the “Bash” in Terre Haute. I rode in the wind, in the rain, and at all hours of the night. I was young, stupid, and didn’t care what people thought of me. I was cool and there was nothing you could do about it. The only worry that I had that summer was when I was going to be able to ride again. But when I bought it I did not want to go through the process of getting a license. So I grabbed a six-month permit and rode to my heart’s content. But when that six-month permit ran out I continued to ride.
And while I was continuing to ride I continued to feel more and more comfortable with the bike. It was a Honda CBR that had 600CC of power (that is more than my car has by the way) and was white and blue with a custom Vance and Hines pipe on the back. I loved that bike so much if nothing else than the look of it. I had a helmet, it was black with some patterns all around it, but would stop wearing that a few months into owning the bike. I actually still have that helmet in my closet to this day. I felt that if I was going to wreck bad enough that the only reason I was alive was due to the helmet, I would not want to see the condition of my body so I simply risked it. I laid the bike down, actually, twice while I was not wearing a helmet. I still have rocks embedded in my knee from the second time I laid it down. I went down just outside my house on the driveway and slid all the way across the road and under the neighbor’s truck. (That is one thing you have to love about living in the country. There are gravel roads and driveways everywhere. And did you ever wonder why we park in a drive way and drive in a park way?)
So I rode for a few months more always getting the nerve to go faster and do more dangerous stunts, all the while still not wearing my helmet. (That is another thing that I always wondered about. A motorcycle is WAY more dangerous than a car. You are forced by the law to wear your seat belt in a car. But, you are not forced to wear your helmet on a bike that has no seat belt and that only has two wheels. Can someone explain that to me please?) I eventually got to the point where I just wanted to test my nerves and I got the bike to 120 miles an hour on the way home one night. I managed to make it home, and I put the bike up for sale the next day. The front wheel began to come off the ground at about 110 miles an hour and I just knew that I was going to continue to push my luck until I ended up in a box. So I sold the bike and have had no interest in them since.
But this story makes me feel one, lucky, but two, glad that I sold the bike. I am glad that I sold it before this exact same thing happened to me. He wrecked his bike, and ended his life, by probably doing some of the same things that I did. He was going too fast, he was driving too late at night, in an area that was probably known for deer, and he just ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or was that his destiny? That is for you to decide.
But the point of this post is not to talk about my experiences (however short they may be) but to discuss how truly dangerous motorcycles are. They are everywhere, especially in the summer, and I have ever seen bumper stickers that declare that as being true. (You know, the ones that say, “Beware, Motorcycles Are Everywhere.”) A car will win in a collision with a bike any day of the week. Imagine what would happen if a Hummer or a semi truck was in place of that car. I have heard nothing but horror stories about folks that have been killed on bikes. Sure, there are bikes that are less dangerous than others (meaning that if you have a crotch rocket you will drive it like the world can’t touch you and if you have a Harley you use it to cruise the country looking at sites and sounds of the nation) but they are all still in the same principle.
Outside of the dangers of a car or truck hitting you, have you thought about debris in the roadways? Or perhaps a fresh pot hole (God knows that Indiana is full of those) or loose gravel on the side of the street. There are truly endless ways that can cause an accident on a motorcycle. The insurance is cheaper, sure, but you cannot have just a motorcycle and no other form of transportation in this state. You cannot drive them in the rain. You cannot drive them in the snow. I mean, OK, you can. But why would you want to? If you were driving a motorcycle in the middle of the winter you would be laughed at.
Regardless, people will continue to ride them. And people will continue to be killed on them. It is the nature of the ride. But of course, look at it this way; when it’s your time it’s your time.