Wear Proper Riding Gear | Idiots

Shop Talk

A local rider got killed the other day. Exactly why he pitched himself down the road is still being investigated. By all accounts he was an experienced, skilled rider that was intimately familiar with his bike and the road he was on, and neither the weather nor road condition appear to have been a factor. No other vehicle was involved.

A witness who was mowing his lawn saw the whole thing. He told investigators, “it looked like he just blew the turn.” Exactly what he meant by that, I couldn’t say with certainty, but I think we all get the gist. As luck would have it, the witness turned out to be an Eagle Scout with a merit badge in First Aid, so after calling 911 he went to attend to the fallen rider. Turned out there wasn’t much he could do for him, and as he told our local fish-wrapper, “The guy was alive when I got to him, but he was a real mess. All he had on were shorts and a tank top, so he was scraped up pretty good and bleeding like crazy, but he seemed to breathing okay.” EMTs and a chopper were on the scene within minutes, but the rider died before they could get him to the hospital.

Ironically, the guy was wearing a helmet, which indicates that he was at least somewhat concerned with his safety, though apparently not enough to wear anything like proper riding gear. Before I go any further let me unequivocally state that I don’t think, nor did the brief report on the accident state, that his demise was due to lack of attire. Had he survived the crash, then road rash would certainly have been an issue in his recovery, but as it now stands, it doesn’t appear to have been a factor in his death.

To be brutally graphic, it’d be as if someone massaged you—hard—with a 6-inch grinder or maybe a cheese grater. I’m no sawbones, but I’d imagine the shock to your system

A few hours later I went out to pick up my weekly ration of cheap cigars, which involves a short hop on the highway. Still thinking about the poor guy that bought it, I was tooling along I-84 when a mixed group of half a dozen touring rigs and middleweight cruisers came into view. Although they were all bikes you’d expect serious riders to own, I was surprised—or maybe appalled—to see that not a single one of the riders or passengers had on long pants, let alone a long-sleeve shirt. Every one of them had on shorts and tank tops. Amazingly enough they were also wearing helmets, though how much good they’d do if their wearers did some impromptu body surfing across the hot asphalt at 75 mph is debatable.

Frankly, my first thought when I saw those guys coming toward me was that they were idiots, and I make no apologies for using that description. Running a motorcycle down an interstate at 75 mph while wearing little more than your skivvies is about as dumb a stunt as I can think of. I’ve come off motorcycles at that speed wearing full race leathers and still got scuffed up, so you can imagine what you’d look like after bouncing down the asphalt a few hundred yards wearing just your birthday suit. To be brutally graphic, it’d be as if someone massaged you—hard—with a 6-inch grinder or maybe a cheese grater. I’m no sawbones, but I’d imagine the shock to your system would be akin to getting flayed alive and that the danger of infection would be astronomical. At best you’d be scarred for life; at worst, it‘d kill you.

I hate hot weather too, I really do. So I get why people ride in T-shirts and shorts. To my everlasting embarrassment, I’ve been known to ride in a T-shirt myself, and I’m sure I’ll do it again; hell when I was young and foolish, I used to race scrambles wearing a T- shirt, which without equivocation makes me an idiot as well.

That being said, I’m asking you as a friend to wear proper riding gear anytime you’re on your bike. That doesn’t mean you have to suit up in full leathers or wear body armor when you take a ride; I think that’s just as silly. But it does mean you should at least be wearing long pants (preferably heavy ones, like jeans), some sort of long-sleeve jacket, (the newer mesh ones are terrific in heat), ankle-high shoes, and gloves. I’d also recommend a helmet, but I’m guessing you all knew that one was coming.

No one ever thinks they’re going to crash, but in my experience there are only two kinds of riders; those who have crashed, and those that are going to. Every rider, no matter how skilled or experienced, falls into one of those two categories, so please, dress for the crash and not the ride. I’d hate to be writing a rant like this about you someday.