I went on a poker run today.
Over the past 45 years or so Iíve probably ridden on at least 2 or 3 a year, so that means this definitely wasnít my first rodeo (so to speak). Yet for the first time in my life something happened that really embarrassed the hell outta me....I ran into a bike knocking over a couple I know (good friends too)!! The guy (and his woman) graciously said it was their fault, but like I told him, no matter how you look at it, I ran into them.
Now, thankfully to the ďGods of the RoadĒ, nobody was hurt and neither bike was even scratched. But I still felt like a total @$$hole.
Hereís how it happened: We were sitting side by side at a red light (me to the left) with about ten bikes waiting behind us. Prior to this, approaching the light, he and she both hand-signaled (and turn-signaled) that they were going to turn right. We were riding staggered with him slightly in front of me and to my right as we pulled up to the light...that itself sorta odd because the staggered formation usually calls for the lead bike to be to the left. But I think we recently passed a car and I hadnít gotten to the right yet.
As we sat there waiting for the light to change, he realized he was mistaken and that this was the wrong intersection, so he waved everyone behind him forward...but I was sitting there beside him watching traffic coming at us from our left. So when the light changed, I began to turn right slightly ahead of them without realizing his correction as they went straight. Their front wheel barely touched my right saddlebag, but it was enough for his forks to turn causing his bike to go down and they both spilled into the road as I corrected myself and pulled straight on through the intersection to a stop.
Like I said, nobody and nothing was hurt except ego. But it goes to illustrate that no matter how long you ride, or what kind of skills you think you might have, you should never just assume ANYthing when it comes to riding, specifically like me attempting that turn without being assured clearance by actually seeing THEM turn first.
After a few folks jumped off their scoots and helped the couple right their bike, and as the group started to pull away, I sheepishly fell into the middle of the pack and everyone gave me plenty of space.....like, ďIím not gonna get in HIS way!Ē
When we reached the next stop everyone except me was laughing about it, and the couple even assured everyone that they were totally at fault. But they werenít. Like I said, I ran into them. No matter what the conditions, it was MY responsibility to make sure that didnít happen. Iím just glad it wasnít a lot worse.
While Iím showing you how NOT to ride and what NOT to do, years ago I did something else really stupid so I might as well include that one here too. THAT screw-up was when I pulled out of my street onto a state highway near my home.
The highway had a wide curve at that intersection and I was in a hurry leaving for work. Glancing to my left (I was turning right) I saw nobody coming, so I pulled on out thinking nobody could possibly be in my lane....but there was! Coming straight at me at 60 MPH was a car passing another while completely ignoring the double yellow line! I barely had time to pull entirely out of my lane and onto the shoulder as the %^$&er flew by me and actually clicked my left mirror!! Once again, I might not have been the one at most fault technically, but there could have been a mailman, a tractor, a garbage truck, Amish buggy or other slow-moving or even stopped vehicle being passed, curve and double yellow lines or not.
Both of these incidents never would have occurred if I would have just used my damned eyes, waited a split-second more, and looked. Once again, nothing bad happened except my seat was almost, well, you know.
Various other incidents have left me with some permanent gravel in my face, a few scars, and the necessity of having my spleen removed. But I know all of those accidents were definitely NOT my fault in any way.
Iíve been street-riding regularly for over 45 years, so Iím aware that shit happens. And I also realized long ago that when ya ride, people are out to get ya. But when YOU are the guilty culprit, well itís a humbling experience and hopefully you learn from your mistakes. If you havenít yet had either of these experiences, please learn from mine. Pausing to REALLY look is never a bad idea. I guess I needed a reminder and Iím glad the only thing damaged was pride. Okay, now letís talk about something else.....
Iím writing the following part of this column a week later, and today is Fatherís Day.
My son Jason and his son Dylan are going to be here later tonight after I pick them up at the airport. Theyíre flying in from Louisiana. Then a week after they arrive, my other son Ben is coming from Texas with his girls Rhianon (from Kinsman, Ohio) and Anna (from Florida) for two weeks, so theyíll overlap a week or so. I canít wait. I havenít had them all together since the day I was married to one of my exes eight years ago. In fact, Anna (the youngest) wasnít even born then.
Iím so proud and thankful that both of my sons have turned into such fine and good men. I donít know where the hell they got it from. I AM sure that being lifers in the Air Force (both are Master Sergeants) had something to do with their adult conduct. But they were good kids too. Isnít it odd that though theyíre now 38 and 35 years old respectively, theyíre still ďmy kidsĒ to me? LOL.
I WAS expected to do jury duty over the next few weeks, but when I gave the explanation of my sonsí rare visit, and the fact that Iíve served for jusy duty a number of times in the past, they excused me. So everything is just ďPeachy KeenĒ in Bummerís world currently.
Now, if I can just keep from colliding with friends on motorcycles, Iíll be doing great!