By on September 27, 2016

viffer

The forecast, to misquote Robert Cray, called for rain — but I saddled up the Anniversary VFR anyway. There’s no lane-splitting in Ohio, but there are still real and tangible benefits to riding a motorcycle on my daily commute to work. The first is time. I save between 10 and 20 round-trip minutes every day that I leave the Accord in the driveway. I can make better pace on the road, particularly downtown. The second benefit is financial: it’s $50 a year to park the bike but it’s between $9 and $18 a day to park a car. The last, and most important, is hassle. It’s an easy three minute walk from my bike to my office. From the nearest available parking garage? Ten minutes if I’m lucky, 20 if that garage is full, plus 10 flights of stairs each way on two legs that ache and crack in any weather below tropical.

Put all of that together, and it’s no wonder that I won’t drive unless there’s heavy standing water or ice on the roads. But I won’t lie; I’d ride even if it cost more. I feel less like a replaceable cog in a massive and directionless corporate cluster-bang when I’m on two wheels. And that’s why I was in a good mood when I heard the BLEAT! of the horn next to me.

This was the situation: There’s a four-lane road that I pick up about three miles from my house and ride down a long hill to the freeway entrance. There’s a stoplight at the end of it. Some days the left lane is backed up from the light because the southbound freeway is stopped. Other days the right lane is backed up because it’s the lane that you take if you’re going to join the outerbelt a half-mile down. (Columbus folks, I’m talking about Hard Road where it meets Route 315 South.) On my bikes, I can pick either lane and then accelerate into the space I need.

I was in the right lane this morning as I headed down the incline to the light, but I was pretty close to the left edge of that lane because I was considering my options. When I heard the horn next to me, I promptly swung all the way to road shoulder. I’ve avoided being crunched into paralysis a few times over the previous decades by always taking the maximum avoidance first then checking to see what was going on. But there was no out-of-control Escalade smashing traffic, nobody with failing brakes, nobody gripping the wheel and breathing hard after almost distracted-driving their way into a rear-ender.

Instead, there was a previous-generation CR-V, in some sort of light silver. And behind the wheel there was a man in his 60s in a clean white shirt, no tie. He made a dismissive hand wave in my general direction. Like a get out of my way wave. Behind my visor, my mouth fell all the way open.

In the space of an indignant millisecond, I reviewed the facts of the case, Your Honor:

  • I was riding along in my lane, at the speed limit, bothering no one, taking up less space and using less fuel than anyone around me.
  • Clearly, my presence near the edge of the lane annoyed the CR-V driver.
  • So he had beeped at me to move somewhere else, even though I was abiding by the law.

This would be enough to send most motorcyclists into a killing rage. But it pleases me to inform the court of these additional facts:

  • It was a fucking Baby Boomer, another spoiled brat with a pension and appreciating assets and the easiest years of this or any other nation’s existence in his rearview mirror.
  • He was driving one of those God-damned bullshit breadboxes that are driven almost exclusively by people who despise cars.
  • The arrogant entitlement encapsulated in his wave — no aristocrat ever sentenced a serf to a whipping with more practiced insouciance.

This aggression … this aggression will not stand, man! And then, as if by a miracle, the light turned red a few cars up and we came to a stop next to each other. At this point, I was in full Critical Mass mode. I’m not saying that I was carrying an EOD Robotics breacher bar. I’m not even sure it’s legal to have one in your back pocket while you’re on a bike. But let’s say that I was, for sake of argument. (Interested in getting one of your own? Click my link and help me get worthless free stuff!)

Just five seconds ago, this man had used the effective threat of death against me. His 3,800 pounds of caged steel against the thin shell of my Arai helmet, and we all know who wins that battle every time. I wasn’t in his way, wasn’t doing anything other than annoying him by riding too close to his shitty little CR-V for his comfort. So he honked at me, knowing I would have to move or suffer the risk of never seeing my son and my wife again.

But now the tables were turned. He was hemmed in by traffic. I was bigger, younger, and angrier than he was, wearing an armored jacket and helmet, carrying a steel bar that could shatter his window and cave in his skull. Any violence he could have callously perpetrated against me was now mine to visit upon him. Ohio allows you nowadays to drive around with a gun in the car, but ask anybody who’s ever had to use a pistol in anger; if you’re within grabbing distance of your opponent, you’re no longer in a gunfight.

I’ve seen things like this happen. I’ve seen cyclists and motorcyclists assault “cagers,” and I’ve seen cars driven with intent to kill bikers of all stripes. I’ve seen lives changed because of pride or fear, and always for the worst. I thought about this. I put my kickstand down and I swung my leg off the bike to stand. And I watched my friend in the CR-V freeze, his hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, looking straight ahead, as if the monster in his passenger window did not exist.

For five seconds we stood there, me leaning down to peer in the window, him looking straight ahead, his neck and head locked in place. Then I realized just how ridiculous it all was. Who gives a shit if he wants to honk at me? We’re both just cattle in the company abattoir arguing over who gets to feel the knife first. Fuck him, and fuck me for even bothering to be annoyed by it. No harm. No foul. Let’s move on.

The light went green. His lane moved faster than mine but then a few cars took the exit ramps ahead of me and the road opened. I dropped to second, feathered the clutch, felt the front end go light as VTEC KICKED IN YO. I was doing 90 by the time I blasted past the silver CR-V. I’d like to tell you that I flipped my fellow corpo-slave off with my left hand, but the fact is that I’m not great at wheelies and I like to have both hands in a nice secure death grip on the bars. I was down the road and gone. Ran between 95 and 120 all the way down the freeway, letting the V-Four tear canvas and rocket from lane to lane. Don’t worry about a thing. Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.

As I rode, I thought about the ideas of narcissistic injury and aggressive victimhood. I was angry at the CR-V because he’d insulted my right to the whole lane. More than that, I was pre-primed to be angry, because I’ve bought into the idea that “cagers” are always out to victimize and bully cyclists and motorcyclists. That pre-priming is ubiquitous among those of us who are on two wheels. As a teenager, I’d ride my BMX bikes through campus traffic just hoping somebody would cut me off or buzz me so I could kick their mirrors off or grind a peg against their bodywork. That’s a teenage mindset. We need to let it go.

When you see me on a bike out there, assume that I’m working hard to stay out of your way and preserve my life. And I’ll assume that you mean no malice by your actions. And we’ll enjoy this road together, though it may lead to nowhere, though the fruit of all our efforts be merely to sit blank-eyed in the cubicle and dream of the road again.

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79 Comments on “Trackday Diaries: A Slight Injury to the Narcissistic Area...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Clearly, my presence near the edge of the lane annoyed the CR-V driver”

    I bike (not motorcycle) and I get this all the time. I’m apparently entitled to a meter from the curb. I will admit to occasionally taking more (because the meter nearest the curb anywhere in the snowbelt tends to look like the aftermath of a shelling exercise) but I do tend to obey the law.

    A lot of drivers get really upset at cyclists if they’re on the road. I’ve honked at or yelled at a number of times, been nearly clipped by mirrors and, on one memorable occasion, had a coffee cup thrown at me for daring to make a left turn at an intersection like a car.

    I would chalk this up to a massive sense of self-centeredness and a dearth of empathy: we aren’t “citizens” or “neighbours”, we’re “taxpayers”. We don’t live in neighbourhoods, we live in “developments” or “lifestyle communities”. People, other people, aren’t really people, they’re “the other”. And it’s really easy to honk at, or worse, someone you see as less than a real person.

    I’m not sure if it’s gotten worse in the past ten years, or if it’s worse in smaller cities (I used to live in downtown Toronto; I don’t recall this nastiness there), or if I’m just getting old, but I’m less and less shocked by it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      As a longtime denizen of college towns I can assure you that the only issue we drivers have with bicyclists in or near standard car lanes is the dent it would make in our already harried lives if we accidentally put a dent in you.

      Bicyclists are too damn fragile and slow to mix with motor vehicle traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        That’s just it: you’re not really “mixing” when you’re on the right. Anything short of a Freightliner’s width can easily pass you without crossing the median.

        I really do get that cars get annoyed if I have to move out past the meter’s width (and for that I blame the city; I have a snakebite puncture to fix over lunch today thanks to lackadaisical road maintenance in a bike lane) but two-wheelers are, by law, allowed to be on most roads.

        I really did understand the antipathy of drivers when I lived in Toronto. I thought most cyclists–and just about every courier–were douchebags and I was an avid cyclist. But out here? Why?

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Well, now that I’m in this Mayberry of the North I don’t mind cyclists at all because there are so few they have no opportunity to swarm and individuals are easily predicted and avoided.

          As always, there are d*ckheads on both sides that make the reasonable majority in the middle suffer.

          As in every other matter of concern, the fewer people the better.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          “you’re not really “mixing” when you’re on the right.”

          You’re living dangerously. Any driver even remotely, and I mean that in the most expansive sense, competent, pass bicyclists, pedestrians, horses, dogs, cats deer, wheelchairs, lemonade stands etc. by a decisive crossing of their, most often left, lane marker. If they cannot, due to a hard divider or oncoming traffic or whatnot, they slow down, and make up for the loss of time later.

          Inviting the bottom of the subhuman backmarker race, too abjectly incompetent at anything at all beyond taking up space and being in the way, to try to squeeze by in the same lane, is just inviting disaster. On a bike, you need to leave enough room on your right, to allow for a rightward, not leftward into Death Lane, swerve should a cat, a pothole, a meteor, or whatnot suddenly block your narrow path. Anything else will eventually get you hit. NEVER swerve to the left without a thorough, hence comparatively slow, shoulder check. It’s one of the most common causes of bikes being hit by same direction motorized traffic.

          Just learn to love honks and yells. It literally means: “I see you, hence won’t accidentally hit you. I’m pissed off, and will talk about hitting you and killing you, but unless I happen to be a cold blooded murderer, all I’ll ever do is talk, yell, draw attention to myself and, to your benefit, draw attention to the fact that there is a bicyclist near me, so that others won’t hit you by accident either.” That’s all. Grab enough lane to demand sufficient sentience to make a proper pass on the part of drivers. Much safer on all accounts.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Been hit on a bicycle twice. I wasn’t as fragile as the drivers before or after either time.

        Once when I caught up with a honker that was your classic academic tweedy barf-mat driving a Subaru plastered with vacuous bumper stickers, he protested that he was worried I looked unsteady peddling up Observatory Hill. Considering it’s effectively a park covered in joggers, cyclists and people walking their dogs; and that I was passing pretty much all of them on the ascent, I read him for the egocentric liberal that he was and let him off trembling in fear. I’m sure two minutes earlier he was thinking what an imposition it was for him that I was using two feet of his lane-and-a-half wide parkway. He left knowing that not everything exists for his convenience, and that his companions would merely be witnesses rather than participants in any attempt at survival.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          You really *don’t* know what a bare-assed clown you make of yourself with these screeds of pure resentment and jealousy.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Psychotherapy can be a great source of self knowledge.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I literally don’t know if I’ve ever seen a comment from this incarnation of ToddAtlasF1 that didn’t contain political content, usually completely off-topic.

            At least in his previous incarnation the same commenter would occasionally say something intelligent about cars without feeling the need to drag politics in.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Kenmore – “You really *don’t* know what a bare-assed clown you make of yourself with these screeds of pure resentment and jealousy.”

            After the Trump/Clinton debate I do think they may be starting to understand.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Zekas

      Here in Eugene, bicyclists ride on the sidewalk, running over pedestrians. And don’t get me started about the dudes who run red lights, run the stop signs and go the wrong way because “it’s faster”. In Oregon, it is the bicycle riders who have an attitude of entitlement.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s even worse in downtown Toronto, and it cuts both ways between drivers and cyclists.

      • 0 avatar
        never_follow

        As someone who has done both in downtown Toronto, it’s really not that bad for either group, although each has their set of a-holes.

        In five years of bicycle commuting, only been doored twice, once a cab passenger who should have known better as the cab had just passed me and was stopped a good metre from the curb. The other was some dummy in an early 90’s Regal that opened their door a half block away from Yonge/Bloor because there was lots of traffic and they figured they could walk faster. Knocked the chrome and body cladding off, which was oddly satisfying.

        As a driver, I don’t have too many issues with bikes except for along the Bloor Viaduct, where faster cyclists pull into live lanes, and don’t bother looking as they cross the DVP entrance.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Unrelated, but not really. Where is the CR-V built? I saw one the other day with a Trump sticker on it and immediately thought of where it was assembled. (I do the same when I see one on a pickup, was your truck assembled in Mexico, Indiana, Texas, Michigan? Are you contributing to the very thing you profess to hate?)

    FWIW it was a boomer behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “carrying a steel bar that could shatter his window and cave in his skull.”

    I assume that killing a 60 year old on a crowded street because they honked at you will cause much larger hassles than having to take 10 flights of stairs. So you probably made the right call.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Right here in the GTA, we just had a huge motor cycle vs car ,” road rage” incident. The car lost, ended greasy side up in the ditch. The cops have laid numerous charges against the car driver. They are still looking for the bikes?

    Yes, i would be one of those “nasty baby boomers. I would also be that guy with 46 years of driving experience that takes careful note, of all vehicles. that are behind, beside, or ahead of me. When i see potential $hit happening, i remove myself and my vehicle ,from the situation. I back off, change lanes, and if its safe, i will accelerate out of it.

    That being said, there is a whole lot of “nut cases” on two, and four, wheels. Life is too short, to let a few minutes of my precious time, impact me, or my car, or the or the lives of surrounding drivers, regardless of who the bad guy, is perceived to be.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Allegedly a group of ‘stunt’ riders in a pack on Highway 401.

      The car ended up crashed and on fire against a guardrail. Multiple charges laid against the young driver of the car, including possession of a quantity illegal drugs in the vehicle.

      Here is an article on the incident which includes a video of the initial ‘altercation’.

      http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/new-video-shows-altercation-between-car-and-bikers-before-road-rage-incident-1.3089087

    • 0 avatar
      David "Piston Slap Yo Mama" Sanborn

      “It was a fucking Baby Boomer, another spoiled brat with a pension and appreciating assets and the easiest years of this or any other nation’s existence in his rearview mirror.”

      Jack’s channeling a growing disgust with baby-boomers. The same generation that awarded themselves unsustainable pensions and retirement benefits back when the U.S. was economically unchallenged now wails in protest at the most minimal of social programs for those in need and are the ones who grouse the loudest about entitlement. It’s hard to imagine they’re the same group of kids who went to Woodstock, got high with Timothy Leary and either protested Viet Nam or died there …

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        Those “unsustainable” pensions were a form of deferred compensation in lieu of larger or any pay raises. Most boomers I knew would rather have taken the money at the time. The powers that be had big incentives to defer paying the money via a future pension. These same powers were more likely to be from the greatest generation. Portable 401s are better if you have the discipline to fund them. If women and children are involved, it’s very difficult.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Not to mention : ‘ unsustainable pensions ‘ is pure bunk .

          They were sold to us by telling us they’d invest the difference between normal pay and what we were being paid and in the end it’d all come out better than even .

          Of course THEY LIED and spent the unpaid wages WE EARNED on them selves via B.S. ‘bonuses’ etc. and split leaving us, THE ONES WHO DID THE ACTUAL WORK, to hold the bag and get blamed for what SOMEONE ELSE DID .

          It’s always easier to blame the innocent than to take responsibility for what your slave master 1 %’ers did .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    V4Rider

    “…but I saddled up the Anniversary VFR anyway”

    I knew I always liked your writing. I’ve got an ’02 VFR. Crack over 6800 and whatever was screwing with your day is drowned out by sweet V4 music and raw accelerative power. Had a border collie with a death wish try and tail me on the way to work today, dropped a gear and dusted him!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I am not a biker, but many years ago I was a regular passenger on my high school buddy’s bikes – a ~76 Yahama RD400 and ~81 FJ1200.

    That experience really gave me an appreciation of how vulnerable bikers are, and how oblivious (or worse) many car drivers are. Consequently, I try to make sure that any close encounters with bikers are the biker’s choice – not mine.

    Biker safety would improve dramatically if every car driver was required to merely be a passenger on a bike for a few days.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      In some European countries, young guys can get licensed to ride smaller motorcycles well before they are allowed to drive a car. Cars also tend to be much pricier over there, so a larger share of the population learns the basics of reading traffic, making decisions etc. in a situation where they are the ones most likely to get hurt if they screw up.

      It’s a scheme that should be built upon and brought here as well. 5HP, no Freeway “mopeds” at 14. 2 years and a minimum of 20,000 miles of that, then 50hp and Freeway for 30,000 miles and two years, then unrestricted bike or car up to 4000lbs. Then 2 years and 50,000 miles of that, and unrestricted. Would make for less clueless drivers all around, as well as less of the animosity Jack is referring to between “scofflaw bikers” and “cagers.”

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I don’t get the fascination with wheelies. I had someone criticize my bike with one of his faux-incredulous questions being “can it even pop a wheelie?” Why should I give a s**t?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’m not much of a wheelie-er. But there is something brilliant about watching 700 pounds of bike and rider stand on the back wheel under power.

    • 0 avatar
      everybodyhatesscott

      Agreed, if I want to try and wheelie, I’ll get a dirt bike.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        There’s a time and place for wheelies .

        In traffic isn’t it,not _ever_ ~ what it means is : you’re scared and insecure and have to do seriously stupid shyte to try and cover it up .

        In fact is shows the whole world your d*ck is prolly 1″ long .

        Stunting at the right place / time is awesome .

        I don’t do it ’cause I’m askeert of crashing again but it’s really amazing to watch the folks who know how to do it well .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    I. Do.Not.Get. Bikers.

    Sure,the appeal of the practice is apparent enough to me. But I’ve seen enough massive stupidity behind the wheel lately to tempt me to park my V8 muscle car in a bank vault , never to share the road with morons again.

    I’ve been cut off, nearly merged into, and deliberately flipped off by a fat broad in a Kia who tried her level best to both run me off the road by blocking me from merging when a lane ended due to construction. I jumped ahead two car lengths by accelerating IN THE CLOSED lane to dodge Mrs JabbaTheHutt.

    Now I don’t drive the F-Body during rush hour, ever. Bikes? You’re suicidal. May as well play Russian roulette with six cylinders loaded. Just last week I saw a couple on a Kawasaki almost became hood ornaments for a Yukon that hit the brake and turned into the right hand curb at the last minute.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      Yeah, Jack. I don’t get you either. You quit Panthers because they are apparently unsafe, but choose to ride a motorcycle which removes all the safety that an old car does have, leaving you exposed to a multitude of large, aggressive forces.

      “When you see me on a bike out there, assume that I’m working hard to stay out of your way and preserve my life.”

      Actually, I think it’s to your benefit that I assume the opposite. When (anecdotally) 95% of the bikers out there seem to think that they are indestructible and infallible – following too close, cutting other traffic off, lane splitting, sudden no-signal maneuvers – I tend to treat motorcyclists as though they are trying to kill themselves, and me with them.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Yeah, Jack. I don’t get you either. You quit Panthers because they are apparently unsafe, but choose to ride a motorcycle which removes all the safety that an old car does have, leaving you exposed to a multitude of large, aggressive forces.”

        I think “quitting Panthers” was more about making sure he’s driving John (and now-Mrs. Baruth) around in a safer car.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          During my year’s in high school we lost multiple friends due to bike related accidents.

          One was racing, lost control, hit a ‘guy’ wire strung along a boulevard and basically ended up inside his helmet.

          Another was driving to visit his best friend, who was driving his truck to visit him. One of them went through a yield sign. Best friends in an accident with one dead.

          One of my football teammates was riding with his father, an ex-OPP motorcycle officer. In front of him, his father was hit and killed.

          An ex-teamate and later an opponent on the gridiron, was hit on the 401, broke pretty much every bone in his body. Never fully recovered (ended his dreams of playing pro ball), developed an addiction that killed him at a young age.

          Driving home from the pre-graduation camping trip an experienced rider and top ranked bodybuilder hit some oil on the road, the bike slid for a couple of hundred yards. Killed him and his passenger, his girlfriend who was our class valedictorian and part-time model. They both died from their burns and wounds. He lingered for nearly a week.

          The Old Man was a motorcycle cop. While on court duty the Constable who took his patrol, hit something and lost his life.

          The chances of getting me back onto a motorcycle are exactly zero.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          Exactly. I don’t care what happens to me, but I will take every chance to protect my wife and son.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The only way to understand is to throw a leg over and ride.

      I think my bike has a little over half the HP of Jack’s bike, but every time I crank the throttle wide open… EVERY TIME.. I giggle in my helmet and shake my head.

      Similarly there’s nothing sweeter than nailing a turn or sequence of turns. Yes part of that satisfaction comes from knowing that you “survived”.

      Traffic, particularly on the highway, is not that bad. I cut my teeth learning to drive in NYC and am in much more rural pastures now. On the bike I don’t stay in traffic as much as I slice through and move herd to herd. I am the kind of driver who sometimes doesn’t even listen to music in the car….. scanning for idiots is all I need. Being that the bike puts me up at about CR-V seating height, I have a great view forward. Knock on wood very little surprises me. It’s the intersections that scare me.

      But between the physicality, the engagement, the performance and the time saved…. it would really take something awful or dramatic for me to stop riding. Honestly my only enduring interest in cars at this point is geeky stuff like headlights and just watching it as a business…. it’s a business model I understand and find endlessly interesting. But bikes though…. bikes…. man.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        “The only way to understand is to throw a leg and ride. ”

        _THIS_ .

        I know the pinheads in choppers with henna tattoos and $5 helmets covering their $1 brains make it sound trite but you really do either ” get ” it or not .

        If not that’s fine but DO NOT hinder those of us who ride and choose to continue doing so even after you’re crippled for life and it’s painful .

        I paid professionals to teach my Son how to ride so he’d not get any bad habits I have, he’s a far better, faster and safer rider than I was in my young & feverish dreams .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Coming home from Minnesota a couple weekends ago, my Dad at the wheel of my Accord, me shotgun. On I-90 EB from I-39, heading towards Chicago. Moving along well above posted with the rest of the traffic, Adaptive Cruise at 78. Suddenly my Dad exclaimed “holy ..,” and before he could get the rest of the phrase out, two “crotch rocketeers” flew by at what had to be a buck-forty, minimum!! Before I could catch my breath, two more went by on either side! Twenty seconds later, what could only have been an acquaintance of the morons on the bikes came flying by in a previous-gen GTI, at what had to be a buck-twenty!

      At that speed on a Chicago tollway, even on the far west side, you’d be cheating death IN A CAR, much less on a bike! ANY faux pas, and what remains of you would probably fly a quarter-mile, unimpeded, before a touchdown that would filet you like a perch! That is, unless you pancaked into another preceding vehicle, bridge abutment, or sewer grate (in which case they wouldn’t be able to find enough left to ID your corpse)!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Good on ya Jack ! .

    IOM assuming they’re out to get you is the right attitude (one _did_ get me, I’m a cripple now) but resisting the urge to flail away at the cager or drag them out the window and beat them senseless is a tricky thing to do once you’ve been forced out of your lane to stay alive or whatever .

    I’m planning a little In Town ride this afternoon, a good reminder to ride carefully in the Ghetto .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Jack,
    “was down the road and gone. Ran between 95 and 120 all the way down the freeway” and this is why most folks think bikes and the folks riding them are unsafe, I doubt doing 120 will keep you safe, and one day we will say where is Jack’s writing , oh he got in a accident on his bike and is in a body cast or worse. As a driver I never know when a biker will decide just to open it up to go between 95-and 120 just for shit and giggles. Your not on a track but a public road slow down sir.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That’s a good point, but here’s another one:

      A car crash at 80mph is much more survivable than a car crash at 120.

      On a motorcycle, those distinctions tend to disappear. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        But you have more time to react at 80 mph than you do at 120.

        You are sharing the road with my 80+ year old MIL who changes lanes without notice, warning, looking, or provocation; I know there are many, many other drivers like her. She will never know that her Honda bounced you into the trees when she decided the lane you were using to pass her at 90+ looked smoother than the lane she was in.

        If she gets cited for running you off the road she will feel really bad about it. May even send flowers to your funeral.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The point that most don’t understand is how fast a bike can actually stop.
          Years ago a car mag did a 0-100-0 shootout. They asked a bike mag to show up for sh!t and giggles. The ZX9 they brought wasn’t even the fastest or best sport bike of that era. It ended up sitting at a full stop before most of the cars hit 100 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        See my post above!

        Don’t know how you bikers do it!! I want as much padding (and an airbag or three) between myself and the rest of the rabble as possible!

        Leathers and a helmet wouldn’t cut it!

  • avatar
    JimZ

    though I’ll fess up to suffering my own narcissistic injury this past weekend. I was riding towards a local “bad intersection,” where the road I was on curves into the intersection. it’s known for people making left turns without being able to clearly see oncoming traffic. as I approached, a red Mustang (of course) in the on-coming left turn lane was there. Luckily my riding mentors pounded into my head “always watch the wheels, not the face.” As soon as I saw the Mustang’s front wheels turn to the left, I was on the brakes and clutch. After a string of gender-specific obscenities I had half a mind to turn and go after her and give her a piece of my mind, but then the adrenaline gave way to the shakes so I just pulled off and sat down for a bit. I could tell she was just totally oblivious to my presence and wouldn’t have accepted the notion she might have done something wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I am PARANOID of bikers, and accord (::rim shot::) them as wide a berth as possible! (Usually while praying that if the biker in front of me wipes out, I’ll have room to floor-it around them ASAP, then be able to safely pull over to dial 911!)

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Tell me about the girls from Columbus Ohio.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    As much as I’ve always wanted to try riding a motorcycle (a previous girlfriend actually encouraged me), I don’t think I could ever relax enough to enjoy riding one on the open road.

    I have had almost the same situation play out in front of me, but the bike looked like it was going to drift into my lane. The fact there was a bend in the road didn’t help as the bike reacted a little different than the cars. I beeped, they moved in. Thereby demonstrating to me at the time that yes, that is what they were going to do and I saved them by letting them know I was there. I didn’t see them again after that, but if they blasted by me in a show of righteous indignation afterwards perhaps I would have thought otherwise.

    No hand wave though. That wouldn’t help the situation. Even without maybe the biker thought the same as you, though. I reacted out of safety, not a sense of entitlement over the young whippersnappers who dare drive those infernal two wheeled machines on the same road as me.

    Glad you realized when you did that all this wasn’t worth it. Glad in your reaction to escape from the perceived threat you didn’t wipe out in the opposite direction.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I do wish cars came with two horns: one, a “hello, just reminding you that I know you’re there, and I’m not sure you know I’m here”, and to, a much louder “OMGWTFBBQ!?!” version.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I think you can achieve this effect with duration. “bip!” or “bip bip!” comes across very differently than “hooooooonk!”

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I prefer the bellowing 4-note “make way for the Roadmaster”.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        One of the two cool things about my 1973 Mazda RX-2 was that it had two horns. A polite beep on the horn button and a louder honk on a lever. The other cool thing was, of course, the rotary engine which redlined at 7000 rpm and had a little buzzer to warn you when you were exceeding that number . . . because there was no other way of knowing.

  • avatar
    Dirty Dingus McGee

    Having been legal to ride on the road for over 40 years now(8 years on dirt bikes before that), I’ve grown a little more tolerant over the years. Living in the southern climes allows me to ride year round(with an occasional week or 2 of winter type weather) so I usually put 15-20 K miles a year on. I will give anyone a mulligan for one bonehead move. If they then make a second one, or give me a FOAD look, then the deal is off. It’s sometimes amazing what gets kicked up by your tire as you rapidly accelerate away from the offender.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    Thank you, Jack. “That’s a teenage mindset. We need to let it go.” I was at the skatepark with my grandkids a few weeks ago. Punk kid flipped me the bird, when i politely asked him to stop smoking (park doesn’t allow smoking). His giant buddy jumped in my face. It took all my strength not to swing on the guy, though he would have beaten the crap out of me. Like you said, we gotta let go of that mentality, but it’s hard to do.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      ^ Agreed

      This past Summer in the Nation’s Capital, we had a young sportbike rider (disclosure – I’ve been riding sportbikes both street & track since I was 18) who was terrorizing drivers, at times brandishing a gun and pointing it at those who he perceived cutting him off etc…, general asshattery on two wheels.

      He eventually got caught, but it raised a lot of vitriol against bikers in general but particularly those on “crotch rockets” and we took a lot of flak until he was arrested (actually he turned himself in at his relative’s urging).

      Point is that there are inconsiderate drivers/riders on both sides of the cage, we gotta share the road so a little bit of courtesy goes a long way.

      BTW, just picked up a new Arai Signet Q to replace my aging Profile….they make such fantastic helmets especially for us Potato Heads!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      teenagers are why I don’t and will never have kids. I couldn’t tolerate living with one for very long.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Good piece, even though riding too fast for Joe Text-and-Change-Lanes to notice you’re coming is probably not the best way to think through a situation.

    You’re on a roll lately. Lots of great stuff to think about, less alt-right-ish bullsh!t.

    Pretty much everything I’ve ever done behind the wheel in my life that I truly regret came about as a result of some sort of narcissistic injury. During the five years of my life when I drove city buses for a living, I got really good at just letting those things roll off my back, and I was a better driver for it. Now that I only drive a couple times a week, the muscle is less developed and it’s genuinely harder to let things go, even though I’m older and ought to be wiser.

  • avatar

    It’s interesting that you can usually tell the difference between a friendly tap on the horn to let you know they’re there and something more aggressive.

  • avatar
    keet

    Jack, i’ll never believe your narcissistic side could be injured…

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Was this the same CRV owner in today’s ‘Ask Bark’?

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    C’mon, Jack, you were riding near the center waffling about which lane you were going to take. He may well have wondered if you were going to wander in front of him.

  • avatar

    I’m with you on riding and ride of choice (2014 Interceptor, the fourth V4 I’ve owned). It’s possible the guy was just jealous of your ride, having a sudden realization you were having far more fun than he was… Nice bike! And I trust you’ve done some track time on the VFR…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I stay away from racetracks on streetbikes. I’ve broken my wrists too many times racing BMX to take another drop.

      • 0 avatar

        I found the odd trackday to be a great opportunity to learn better control of my throttle hand. As with a car that you drive to the track, knowing that you’d like to ride it home at the end of the day simply adds to the level of attention applied. I did have one incident when the front wheel on a Duc bent after touching a rough part of the curbing at Sonoma, but rode it off without dropping it. The bike went home on a flatbed. Other than that time, I’ve managed to keep wrists and bodywork unbroken.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Has that resulted in carpal-tunnel, since I presume you drive a keyboard by day (along with a guitar or three)?

  • avatar

    Driving in Columbus can be a nightmare. Two out of the five years I lived there I drove a private ambulance all over at all hours of the day and I’ve seen some shit.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    It is strange how often drivers become offended by the presence of people in motion who are smaller than their vehicle. I don’t ride a motorcycle, but I do a lot of bicycling and walking. I don’t believe in impeding motorists in any way, so I stay out of traffic and never expect any motorists to change their behavior or react to me in any way, including stopping to cross the street. I don’t think I have a right to obstruct traffic and I don’t agree that pedestrians should have the right of way over vehicles. I just continue on and extend the walk or ride until there’s a break in traffic. Yet I still get honked and yelled at by people who would never even know that I exist if I were invisible; people who don’t come within a city block of making contact with me.

    I should probably continue not riding a motorcycle. The simple inability to catch or find most of the offending vehicles has saved me from a lot of violent activity. The narcissistic injury heals with time even without the glorious satisfaction of immediate conflict and I usually conclude a few days later that those pleasures are better left to my imagination. Plus, I enjoy the exercise and, on a warm day, the minimal clothing necessary for cycling anyway. I’m talking shorts and a t-shirt here. I own no bicycle-specific clothing apart from my old BMX gear – I even did my mountain bike racing in board shorts and a wife-beater – so the offense I cause drivers can’t be blamed on spandex.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    My sister lives just up the road on ORR, I was briefly concerned it was she who had visited this bit of insouciance in the writer….she’s certain capable of automotive narcissism.

    Hard Road…4 lanes? Light? Don’t you miss a rural Powell? (Oh the painful years, I watched 315 go 4-lane limited access while in college).


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