I mentioned that I’ve been in a bit of a running gunfight with some folks about how we motorcyclists treat and talk about each other. In all honesty it’s a bit because I feel a kinship with those who ride their motorcycles rather robustly. Yes, I ride too fast and occasionally do things I shouldn’t. I just do. It’s part of my internal wiring, of who I am, of how I do business.
Since I feel a bit besieged I made an attempt to figure out just who the hell all these angry safety evangelists are. Through a process looking over their posts and trying to find their forum introductions I’m coming to an interest opinion.
Most are middle aged . Face it, that’s when you can afford that new bike you’ve been dreaming of for the last couple decades. .
Most are returning or new riders with 1 to 3 years of experience. Right at that point where you’re pretty sure you’re the shizz and are willing to let people know how they’re doing it wrong.
A lot of them are angry with the government and how intrusive it is…which is either odd or average–to be bitching about be told what to do out of one side of their mouths while demanding nobody tell them what to do.
And finally: they really, really don’t like it when people have fun and get away with it. I think it may be a bit of the puritan ethic coming out–you know, no evil deed goes unpunished, somehow you’ll pay for that sin of not wearing a DOT/SNELL/CE full face helmet. Honest. I’ve been around these sorts of people all my life. The kind that when they see someone doing something they can’t (won’t) do point and say, “They’re not really happy doing that…and besides they’ll either die in drunk driving accident or their liver will fail. They may LOOK happy but they’re not.”
Been there. Heard that. Still hear it from the safety obsessed middle aged guy who looks at a kid in shorts and a baseball hat and is only reminded of what he no longer is.
Middle aged, midlife crisis riders are a curious lot. Generally I like them but they run into a lot of problems taking advice. OH, they LOVE to give advice, whether you ask for it or not. These are the guys who’ll confront you at the water cooler or the gas pump and give loads of unsolicited (often unfounded) advice. They like “Tough Love” and “Telling the Truth” and generally trying to shave everybody’s buzz. The world is black and white and they wear the white hat. “I know that guy will thank me for lecturing him on the dangers of not having enough retro reflective material…”
This obsession with doing it right and being right isn’t just a figment of my imagination. My oldest son was working at a call center for a satellite TV provider and everybody there feared one character: Middle Aged Men. See, when you’re trying to help you have a strict script to follow–you start diagnosing by literally having the customer turn the machine off and back on to get a reset. Then you follow a protocol that works through the most common scenarios and hopefully find the problem.
Apparently when you ask a 50 year old man to “turn the machine off and back on” you get a lot of “I’ve done that!” Followed by a lot of failure to listen as said 50 year spends an eternity telling you what they think the problem is instead of simply listening and following instructions.
This may explain why midlife riders are so quick to latch onto things that make no sense to me. For instance I’ve been reading a lot of chatter about how one of the best ways to decide if you should ride with someone goes like this:
1. Do they wear a helmet. (Yes? OK. NO? They aren’t sufficiently concerned about their own melon and probably aren’t good riders.)
2 IF hey wear a helmet do they wear full gear? (Again, if they don’t meet your standards? They are…you got it! Not sufficiently concerned about safety, probably a poor rider and should be avoided.)
3. IF they pass the ATGATT test ask them about “Countersteering”. (If they can’t explain it? Yup, don’t ride with them.)
If you’re thinking that middle-aged safety oriented fellows are busy looking for reasons not to ride with other people? You’d be right. I’m not a “Let’s get 30 friends and go for a ride” kind of guy. I LIKE riding along but I’m not adverse to sharing the experience.
Are all middle aged riders bad guys? Nope. But the really vocal minority you find on the interweb are often a special kind of asshole.
Take it from me! I know what I’m talking about. I’m almost 50 years old.