Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Jerks on Motorcycles

Laconia, New Hampshire, hosts an enormous motorcycle rally every June. Originally just a weekend, it was expanded to a full week in the mid 1990s to make room for more fun and frolic and extract more money from this enthusiastic demographic.

To the residents of the Lakes Region it's viewed as either a great time had by all or something akin to the invasion of the Mongol horde.

People ask me whether motorcycles bother me. For the most part I welcome them because many of the riders seem to understand what it's like to get around on a small, less-than-four-wheeled vehicle (some of them have trikes) that is often overlooked by the oblivious majority sealed behind glass. But every grouping of people includes jerks.

Because New Hampshire has some fantastic cycling roads and beautiful scenery, motorcyclists like to ride here during all the ice-free months, not just during the big week in June. For a while we had an epidemic of idiotic young men on Jap screamers. They liked to pass extremely loud and incredibly close. I learned to time a good spit to my left so that their unhelmeted face would pass through that air space at the precise instant the phlegm-bomb was hanging at the top of its arc to meet them. At the speed they were traveling they probably took it for just another large bug.

The screamer kids have almost completely disappeared. This could be because they have joined the ranks of the organ donors, had the bike repossessed, lost their license or simply had to give it up because they had another sort of accident that siphons their funds to pay child support rather than motorcycle support.

Another annoying subculture of motorcyclists believes that loud exhaust noise makes them safer. "Loud pipes save lives" proclaims the tee shirt or bumper sticker. Not true, my thundering friends. The noise makes most of us grit our teeth and hope you will be silenced immediately by any means necessary. And because the noise tends to spew out behind you rather than in front, it does nothing to alert drivers in your path. The way the noise echoes around, it's often hard to tell where it's coming from until the source of it actually arrives.

As a pedaler, I hear the pipes a-calling before the bike reaches me, but how much of a threat am I to the safety of the regal Harley? Yes, I could swerve and take the rider out in a probably suicidal moment of carelessness or bitter malice, but I don't think I am the threat the loud riders pretend to have in mind when they justify their breach of the peace.

I've learned to roll my eyes and flip a low bird at the motorcyclists who go by me pretending to pedal. But I can't suppress a seething rage at the ones who rip past my elbow, especially on really loud bikes, when they have room to move away from me or slow down. This weekend I had two of them in quick succession in a group of four or five. They were accelerating away from a stop, so they chose to reach the speed they were going when they blasted by me almost knee to knee. Forget hanging a clam in front of them. I wanted a grenade launcher.

Humans will do annoying things and believe stupid shit as long as there are humans. Indeed, the annoying behavior and stupid beliefs may be what finally ends our reign as top predators and global slobs. So the loud pipes idiots, screamer riders and sweaty jerks in tight shorts blocking traffic will continue to mingle with the the four-or-more-wheeled inmates of rolling sensory deprivation tanks, surviving mostly by luck, regardless of what you believe about your skill or divine favor. The way we race around on our little paved strips is really pretty crazy, but we evolved along with it, so it's "normal."

Have fun out there.


Janice in GA said...

We don't have too many crazy motorcyclists around here. I've even had a few wave to me, which surprised the heck out of me.

Jerks will be jerks. :(

Anonymous said...

Funny, I am reading this with a broken collarbone because two weeks ago a guy on a harley decided to pass on a blind turn after hanging my wheel on the strait road. Dove back over into me and took me down with a rearview mirror. He slowed to a stop down the road till he saw me sit up and toss the bike off the road with the arm that worked, then gunned it down the road.
Middle aged CPA-Dentist-lawyer posuer assholes. My town welcomes them all summer. Had to laugh at the low hanging bird at the "pedalers".

Steve A said...

"...every group includes jerks."

Truer words were never said. We should both remember that whatever road or path users we encounter. Luckily, jerks are a small minority.