Month: October 1999

Mortality

As I hope you’ve gathered, this site isn’t meant to be entirely or even approximately serious. There are however times when there’s simply no humorous or whimsical slant on an event. This is one of those.
On 17 October, Jim Osborne, Chief Observer of the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcyclists (WVAM) and his wife Carol were leading a club run on what was a perfect Autumn day – warm, sunny and crystal clear. At just after 6pm, at Henley Hill, on the A286 North of Midhurst, Jim and Carol were involved in a collision with a car and were both killed.
I don’t know the details of what happened but it does bring it home – they were skilled and experienced motorcyclists who have put much time and effort into helping bring others (including myself) up to something approaching a reasonable standard of skill and awareness.
The only reason I wasn’t on that ride was that I had a prior commitment in Guildford that day. I was on the bike, had taken the long way home and had one of my best rides ever. I’d also passed along the same stretch of road only an hour before the group did. This entry was originally going to be about that ride, the focus and the pleasure – the reasons we ride motorcycles. I’ll still travel that route. I’ll be slower for a while. There will however be a certain extra satisfaction in getting it right.
There’s no particular lesson or moral in this – anyone who rides a motorcycle has already taken the decision that the reward is worth the risk. A tragedy like this simply reinforces the fact that it can happen to anyone – just don’t ever ride in the belief that it won’t happen to you. Always try to ride (and live) in the knowledge that it could and might. It doesn’t matter how skilful and careful you are, there’s always some moron out there (and include yourself in that) whose behaviour you aren’t going to be able to anticipate. It’s up to each of us to remember why we do it and keep our own risk/reward equations in balance.

It’s Started…

Cod philosophy time: It’s funny how behaviour on either side of the biggest ideological divides can be indistinguishable — in politics, we’ve got the fascisms of the right and of the left, each behaving in near-identical ways, while in motorcyling we have Ducati and Harley Davidson.
The Harley rider is someone who’s bought comprehensively into the brand’s v-twin cult of appearance, style and attitude. Why else would they put up with abysmal performance, atrocious handling and vibration that would shame a jackhammer? They’ve paid over the odds for a machine that does nothing that you can’t find for less money and with greater reliability elsewhere. That’s only the start — no Harley is considered to be worth a second glance unless it’s been laden with enough extras and chrome to make the original purchase price pale into insignificance. We sneer at the Harley rider.
Now look at us Ducati riders: folks who’ve bought comprehensively into the v-twin brand’s cult of appearance, style and attitude. Why else would we put up with filling-destroying suspension, spine-mangling riding positions and a paranoia about never going out without the warranty card and a mobile phone? We pay over the odds for a level of performance that can be matched or exceeded for way less money and we then spend a fortune on tricking the machine up to make it stand out even more from its peers. Sorry, am I repeating myself?

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