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Cycling and Safety

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Cycling and Safety
Susan Trepanir, Columnist
Barrow County News
Used by permission.

   Watch out for that one-headlight – time and again, it may be a motorcycle.

   Most riders today aren’t speeding or darting in and out of traffic. Motorcycle riders today may be someone you know, someone you love, someone you see while shopping, the woman in the vet’s office or the teacher of your child – or it could be husband Karl and me riding his motorcycle.

   There have been entirely too many people killed in the last few weeks, just in the Barrow County area, while riding their motorcycles because someone didn’t “see” the motorcycle coming.  And, ONE PERSON is entirely too many people as far as I’m concerned.

   It seems babyboomers [sic] are taking to the road in droves – some in groups, some alone on their two-wheeled vehicles. These are not people who ride haphazardly, they pay attention where they are going and they are looking out for the other guy.

   The problem is – the other guy or girl isn’t looking out for them. Instead, they are talking on cell phones, eating, drinking or putting on makeup. You don’t see a motorcyclist riding down the road with a phone to the ear, eating from a fast food bag or drinking through a straw. They sure aren’t putting on makeup while they’re riding – why bother, that helmet is going to ruin even a bad hair day.

   When Karl owned his Honda Shadow I didn’t ride – there were lots of reasons – mainly I felt as though I was going to slide off the back everytime [sic] we started off. I had ridden behind him in the car a few times, I knew how people drove near a bike.

   He came home one afternoon looking shaken and told the story of a teen, riding down the road taking to her friend and riding into his lane. “Her daddy’s not going to be happy when he sees the long scratch on the side of the care where my peg scratched it,” he said when relaying the story. I just hope she had learned a lesson at the early age about paying attention to her surroundings while driving a car.

   One of my happiest days was when brother-in-law Tery and Jenni Overbey handed over a check and took that dadgumed [sic] Honda to their house.

   “Ahh, no more motorcycle,” I thought. Hah!! The joke was on me.

   Karl has always wanted a Harley. Even when he owned the Honda, his constant mantra was, “I really want a Harley.”

   Well, recently he became the proud owner of a black cherry Harley. When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas he said he had pretty much everything he wanted, he just wanted a Harley. By the end of February ‘we’ had discussed the issue until I was sick of it. “Go look, when you have it narrowed down, I’ll go with you,” I said.

   I didn’t take him to hunt the embroidery machine until I knew which one I wanted, I should not have to look at every Harley built or visit every motorcycle shop until he decided which bike he wanted. When it’s a big ticket item Karl will shop ‘til I drop from exhaustion.

   In March he was down to the Road King, the Fat Boy or the Ultra. The Fat Boy, as far as I was concerned, was not going have any better ride than the Honda.

   After taking the Road King home, I thought Karl needed a while to get used to this bike. It’s much heavier, much bigger that the Honda. A couple times I was conveniently shopping when he, Jenni and Tery rode – other times I would be at Karli’s or she and Kayli where home. More times than not, he came home tired as a whipped puppy. One afternoon the wind was up and he walked in complaining his arms hurt. I later found him asleep in his desk chair.

   Finally, he was ready for a passenger and I knew my days of saying, you just go were over. I climbed aboard with really bad feelings about this whole experience. As a teen, I wanted a motorcycle, but after my brother’s encounter with a gravel road, I decided I liked my skin without scars. Now I don’t want the scars, but I sure like the way it feels riding that bike. Don’t anyone tell Karl thought, please.

   We road to Tery and Jenni’s, me not sure if I was ready for this adventure. Tery’s comment, “You go first. You’re the king, I’m the shadow” got a chuckle from us as we headed out to Conyers. You see, sister-in-law wanted to purchase a motorcycle. It’s really kind of interesting to watch as us babyboomers mature, not only the men, but the women are riding their own motorcycles.

   After a full day of riding, I soon realized why Karl had fallen asleep – fresh air, lots of sun meant Susan was a whipped puppy. I was completely worn out when we got back home and you can’t take a nap on the back of the bike.

   A few weeks later Jenni became the proud owner of a white Yamaha V-Star and now I’m the one riding the back of the bike while they ride their bikes, but I know I’m not ready to give up that seat. Heck I don’t even like to drive a car if I can get Karl to dive instead. Jenni’s the exact opposite.

   I know there are dangers. People just don’t see motorcycles – I don’t know why. Maybe I watch more because I know people who ride. I just don’t understand how someone can sit at a stop sign, wait until the bike is almost there and then pull out in front of it.

   We had that happen down at Hamilton Mill on Father’s Day. Thank goodness Karl wasn’t driving fast. I threw up my hands and said, “What do you think you’re doing? See that big headlight? That’s a bike coming toward you!”

   The idiot just waved at me as thought to say, “hey, I’m bigger than you, I have the right to go.”

   We wear helmets, we wear jeans, boots, leathers and we are careful. You can look for my red leather vest – if I’m riding, I’m wearing it and my helmet is black cherry with a butterfly and a ladybug for granddaughters Ashie and Kayli. I thought of putting one of those bright orange or green vests on the front of the bike, but I don’t think I’ll get away with it.

   I never thought I would look forward to the weekends so I could climb behind Karl, but I find I lose pretty much all the cares and stress of the week when I put ton that helmet. Maybe that’s why I’ve felt so stressed the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to ride the bike, but have spent plenty of time driving the car between Winder and South Carolina and Winder and Perry.

   All I’m asking is – please anyone who reads this – watch out for that one-eyed two-wheeled vehicle coming toward you. We don’t have nearly the protection around us you do and we’ll be the one who gets hurt if you are careless. Yes, we realize we take a chance everytime [sic] we get on the motorcycle to ride. Although sometimes we are able to stop, we would still appreciate your thoughtfulness in not pulling out in front of us.

   Let us ride and let us ride safely. Our lives depend on your and our driving carefully.

[Webmaster's comment: Neither the GWRRA nor the Southern Wings endorse the use of the "H" word - Harley - in the above article. However, the safety warnings to all drivers cut across brand lines. For more information on GWRRA's Motorcycle Awareness Division (MAD) please see the following links: GWRRA MAD Division and Georgia’s GWRRA MAD Division]