Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! The other day I watched a girl walkin’ down the sidewalk textin’ on her smartphone. I sure hope some of the “smart” rubbed off on her, ’cause she walked right into a light pole. That got me thinkin’ about a scourge on humanity called “inattention.” Sometimes not payin’ attention can be as simple as leavin’ your sandwich all by itself on the table with your dog in the room, or as dangerous as pilin’ your bike into a ditch because you didn’t see a turn, a patch of sand or that fat ’possum that always seems to run into the road at twice the speed of light. Small animals are cute an’ furry on the outside, but they get slippery as snake snot when ya turn ’em inside out with your front Avon. I also watch people look right at a deer that’s standin’ alongside the road, an’ even point ’em out to passengers, but it never even occurs to ’em to think about slowin’ down. As us old timers all know, a deer’s natural instinct when alarmed by loud pipes, a headlight or some other unfathomable alarm bell goin’ off inside their fuzzy skull, is to find the nearest road that has motorcycles on it and try to jump all the way across it right at handlebar height.
The other day I went on a run with a lot of bikes. It took us down the freeway an’ into the foothills, an’ before it was over there were four accidents, with at least one rider airlifted to the hospital. The first accident was not even five miles from the start an’ involved a rider who didn’t see that the bikes in front of him had slowed to exit the freeway. I still haven’t heard about the condition of the riders involved, an’ I sure hope they’re okay, but many times these wrecks are totally avoidable if you’re payin’ attention to where you are an’ what’s goin’ on around you. I’ve seen a lot of riders, especially “newbies,” who head out with a pack on rides, an’ they’re lookin’ around while they’re ridin’ like they’re the only ones on the road. They point out animals on the hillsides to their passengers, they watch themselves in store windows as they pass, they don’t pay attention to the road in front of them an’ then they have to slam the brakes when they finally notice that said riders in front of them have slowed. Not only does that put the operator and passenger in danger, but the rest of the pack, as well. It also helps to pay attention to how many brews you suck down at each stop, as well, but that’s a cat of a different color, as my ol’ grandpappy used ta say. I’ve even seen riders textin’ while they’re ridin’ down the road! Do ya have any idea what a problem that creates regardin’ that little ol’ lady in the ’68 Buick who just ran the stop sign in front of ya?
I often hear my friends say, “I waved at you on the freeway the other day, an’ you didn’t wave back!” Damn right I didn’t; I was busy tryin’ to stay alive to collect that shot of Patrón ya owe me! There are so many factors that can play out against you on the road that takin’ your eyes off the future can put your life in the past quicker than you can blink.
Another time that payin’ attention is critical is when you’re workin’ on your bike. I’m guilty of that at times myself, so I always double-check everythin’ before I take the bike off the lift. Too many times we get interrupted by things while we’re workin’, and forget to tighten that critical bolt that wasn’t critical before you took it out, but suddenly became very critical when you forgot to tighten it again because the pizza guy showed up.
One of my buddies was jammin’ down the freeway at 80 miles an hour when the bike started “feelin’ funny.” He pulled over, an’ his rear axle nut was gone an’ the axle had backed clear out of one side of the swingarm. Jeez… I guess it did feel funny! He remembered later that the phone rang while he was adjustin’ his chain, an’ he never got back on track.
Another thing that I see ignored all the time are the beehives that every farmer in the world puts out in the spring. They never put the hives at the back of their orchards, instead they’re always right out by the road. I’m not sure if they do that on purpose, but it sure can raise hell with an otherwise great ride if the swarm is headin’ home for lunch at the same time you’re bombin’ along past their digs without a care in the world.
Well, I hope this got ya thinkin’ about all the dangers ya can avoid by just payin’ closer attention to what’s goin’ on around ya, an’… Uh-oh, the pizza guy’s here. I’ll have to finish this la…