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2004-07-08 - 9:32 a.m.

Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel…

I got some sad news yesterday. This guy that I went riding with a few weeks ago is now dead. No…I don’t remember his name. No…I didn’t know him well. In fact I only really knew one thing about him. He loved to ride.

I ate breakfast with him on Saturday morning a couple of weeks back, and then proceeded to ride all over the countryside with him, my uncle, and a long time friend of the family. I vividly remember him telling me that he didn’t go to the bars, he didn’t follow sports all that much, he didn’t care much for those sorts of thing. What he did like was riding. He lived for it in fact. Cruising the back roads with the wind blowing in your face, watching the countryside go rolling by, feeling the blend of road and machine beneath you. Eating up mile after mile…just him and his machine.

He was a good rider. He wore his safety equipment. He was on top of his riding game, and he knew how to minimize his risks unlike many of these kids that you see carving it up on 180hp rockets while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He was a safe rider…with one exception.

Somewhere in the motorcycle owners handbook there is a page that states that when you see another rider you MUST wave at them. I do it. My friends do it. Almost every rider I know does it. I mean how dangerous can a little wave be?

Well it cost this fellah his life.

He was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway riding with a group of folks. He was the lead rider, just like the day we all went riding together. Soaking up life on the back of his ST1300, the bike he loved…(In fact he had put the Goldwing he had recently purchased off to the side so that he could take out the bike he truly loved) I can only imagine how he must have been feeling. Coming into a blind turn he came up on a group of riders pulled off the road at an overlook…a glance at the riders…and a return wave.

And he lost his line in the turn…

I am told that he broke his neck. He died almost right away…

I would be lying if I said that this didn’t leave a chill going down my back. How many times have I done the same thing? How quickly everything could end. Snap…and that’s it.

He died doing what he loved though. He died riding the bike he loved. He died riding one of the most beautiful roads there is. And it was quick. Not a bad way to go I guess…Shame of it is he was a young fellah who left behind a family. I am sure they feel differently about it.

Will this cause me to finally stop riding? I doubt it. Everything has some element of danger to it. Hell I could fall in the shower and break my neck…but I won’t stop showering (and I don’t love doing that nearly as much as I love riding). But will I learn something from this? Your damn straight. Think of me what you will…but next time…instead of taking my eyes from the road to look at the passing bikers…instead of taking a hand from the bars to return a friendly wave…I will remember that fellah I went riding with that day.

Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel…heh…and I hate the Doors too.

Be safe…and if you can’t do that, at least be happy.



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