Did you ever not enjoy riding?

There have been a number of motorcycle accidents this year within my circle of influence. Of course most notable is the tragic accident that occured on April 24th while I was riding sweep on the way to the outer banks of North Carolina. A friend was killed and two were injured with broken bones. I have been to the local hospital on three other occasions to visit friends who have gone down. The thought of a motorcycle accident happening to one of my friends while we are out riding is no longer a wild notion of what could happen but a reality that I expect to reoccur at any moment. It is a heavy burden on my mind and keeps me from enjoying the ride like I used to. At the moment I ride, but it is not a relaxing ride. I’m not writing this to bring anyone down… I’m writing this in hopes that some of you have experienced this feeling and can tell me how long it lasted. When will I return to a normal state of motorcycle bliss? Please do share your stories.

19 Responses to “Did you ever not enjoy riding?”

  1. I think many riders go through a “is this worth it?” type mental struggle after witnessing or being involved in an accident. It brings the hypothetical situations to life and that’s what scares the crap out of us.

    Your feeling very vulnerable right now because tragedy struck close to home (more than once) and it will take a while for you to feel comfortable again, if ever. This is the kind of crossroads riders hate to come to… do I keep riding or do I hang up the helmet. There is no right answer.

    The thing to remember… Just because you take a step back today… doesn’t mean you can’t come back to it when your heart AND mind are back on track.

    Take care friend.

  2. Thanks LR.

  3. My close friend Jay,
    you are doing all that it takes to heal and get back to your old self, the one who enjoyed every second on his Iron Steed, your reaching out to friends, your still riding, you keep close watch over those you love and cherish, will this feeling of uneasiness pass? perhaps, perhaps not, but lets think about the good things as well, right now the emphasis is on those tragic moments, but those are not the normal moments, the normal moments are filled with good times, good friends, great trips and happy memories….all that still happens and will continue to happen despite the tragic moments, no not despite them…in honor of them…riding is just like any other dangerous sport, it has risks, but its those risks we accept and in most cases embrace….get out and ride in your favorite setting…if thats alone, or with a few bikes…or just your lovely wife, whatever the magic is for you….dont feel obligated!!!!!! throw that leg over your bike when its for you….we have enough obligations in this world, dont turn your passion into one. ok ok I know, shut up now Skip….but know this, there are many who care about you…even if your a pain in the ASS!!!! LOL

    your brother from another Mother
    AKA Diesel

  4. Truer words were never spoken, Skip. I mean about the “pain in the ass” part! …OK, the rest of it too. 😉

  5. There are too many things happening in our lives that can – and most probably will – bring us down.

    I suffered a car accident many years ago and the impact in my mind is still here, 40 years later.

    Car accidents kill thousands every year, but you don’t stop driving because of it. You drive more carefully, when an accident occurs near to you or your family. But you keep driving.

    We had a tragic airline accident recently in my country (Air France flight 747), but we keep flying in airlines, because we must.

    Back to our motorcycling, our group down here in Brazil never had a fatal accident, although some have fallen down, eventually.

    My advice: be more careful, watch those cars, but don’t give up what you love to do.

  6. I can’t believe it, Bruce Rossmeyer was killed today while riding to Sturgis! Apparently he was riding in the sweep position while a group of riders were passing an RV. The RV cut into his lane, struck him and the rest is history. At the age of 64 the owner of the worlds largest Harley-Davidson dealership is killed. Another victim to the road. I can’t help but wonder is it worth it? I could sell my bike, buy a raft and float around drinking beer in the sun. Now that sounds relaxing. It’s not like a killer snapping turtle will run me off the Chesapeake Bay. I hope that Bruce’s notoriety will bring more attention to this epidemic of killing motorcyclists by mistake.

  7. RC, although we’ve never met in person I take from your blogging that you’re a quality person, a person with heart and compassion. That said, if you were not seriously effected by the loss of your friend or the injuries to the others, if you were not a little put off about riding after the gut wrenching events, then there would be something wrong with you.

    Frankly, none of what you’ve experienced in the past several months should pass easily or quickly. You wouldn’t be normal if it did. We humans take time to really assimilate the hard things of life and to gain some perspective from them. So cut yourself some slack, give yourself some time for the hurt, the fears, and the worries, to dissipate. Riding won’t ever be quite the same but it will be fun again. If something bad happened to you, would you want your friends to quit riding and enjoying it? I’m guessing the answer would be “No.”

    As to the “floating on the river” scenario, that is a popular pass time here in the desert. We call it tubing. Yes, we have rivers that actually flow with real water during certain times of the year. And every year there are stories in the news of drownings and loss of life do to stupid risk taking. Life isn’t safe, none of it.


  8. Jay.
    Ann and I witnessed and pretty bad accident at ‘Too broke’
    It does give momentary pause.
    But then I remember my brother died in his house in the kitchen at 52……….tragedy comes when it comes.
    I’d rather have been smiling when it does…
    As I said many times
    All we are ..is our Experiences…grab as many as you can..

  9. Thank you Big D, Doug, Skip, Will and LR. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear. I’ll be grabbing up some more experiences soon and I think I might set aside a day to go tubing on the Brandywine River.

  10. 1-19-02 at 8:15 AM I was rear-ended while moving. The lady said see was pointing out the airplanes to her kids. She just came up behind me, and wham! Me and a 800 lb. bike go sliding down the road. I was sore but had no bad injuries (full leathers). The bike suffered but was repaired. It did scare the crap out of me. For about the next two years I didn’t ride much, and when I did it wasn’t very far and I was constantly nervous which took the joy out of the ride. I had seven bikes and sold four of them. But still, looking at three bikes in the garage and having little interest in them was somehow eating at me. Eventually, it occurred to me that shit happens and I have to deal with it. Since then there have been several people I’ve ridden with that have died on their bikes. It bothers the hell out of me when it happens, but somehow I’ve come to accept that it’s a part of life I have no control over. I still do what I can for the survivors of those lost to the road, but beating myself up over events totally out of my control wasn’t working.

  11. As you may or may not know.. I was involved in a fairly bad wreck just this past Sunday (I am one of the ‘three friends’ that required a visit in the hospital) We were both incredibly lucky that our injuries were not more severe.( We had an angel…. THANK YOU Karen for watching over us) I want to get back out there and ride but unfortunately right now cannot, partially due to the injuries I received and also that the bike was totaled. While I am fairly certain that I may be slightly nervous when I get back on a bike , i WILL get back on… It’s something I love to do and will continue to do as soon as I am able.

  12. I started riding about a year ago. Things were going great for about 3 months I was putting lots of miles on my Rebel, taking longer and longer rides in the backcountry, I even upgraded bikes, and I guess I got too cocky.

    Over the next 3-4 months I witnessed about 4 accidents in the back country, including a fatality, and finally seeing my buddy going over his handlebars in my mirrors on a corner.

    That was Febuary and I’m still in the middle of the emotional turmoil. I’m constantly going between missing it and wondering if I’ll every really enjoy it again like I did.

    I even tried switching bikes to something lower to the ground like the Rebel was. Which increased the smile quotient. I’ve also changed my riding habits, only going into the back country two times, doing the kind of riding that I see to enjoy more now, closer to home, not in the back country, roads with at slower speeds and without a lot of traffic. But even with that there’s still a wondering everytime I get on the bike. But my goal is to add up the positive experiences till they overshadow the negative ones and I can enjoy all types of riding.

    I’ve given myself another year, if by next summer the smiles aren’t fully back. Well…

  13. I was just reading a comment KT Did made over at Biker Chickz blog about getting over phobias. While this may not be exactly the same thing, I think the advice was relevent: Don’t THINK about it, just DO it. The mind is a very powerful thing. Ideas in your head can make you love or hate something without ever having even experienced it!
    Go. Ride. Concentrate on the breeze to your knees, the sunshine on your face… Think about how great it is to share these experiences with friends. The synapses in your brain will start to make more and more connections between enjoyment and riding, and the connections to worry will fade away.
    And if that doesn’t work, get better meds! 😉 LOL

  14. this phobia is something that stays and you just overcome the fear by challenging your self. i almost drown/froze to death when a friends son sank my hunting boat. it was a terrible wake up call to be faced with my own mortality knowing i couldn’t get out of the marsh on my own. then i almost died of hypothermia in the back of his pickup truck. it just wasn’t my day. i have since given up hunting and boating all together figuring i can at least walk away from a broken bike and not be stuck in the marsh or the bay. just trying to make the odds a little better. that’s all any of us can do.

  15. Kevin, Laurie, Ian and Willie D – I thank you all for sharing your thoughts, experiences and wisdom.

  16. The feeling you’re talking about doesn’t leave. It’s not a phobia or something you can over come.
    If it’s you or a friend you have to remember every time someone fires up a bike they take a risk. There is no driver side air bags to cushion your impact.
    The only advise I could give to this is ride your ride. If you’re riding in a group ride as if you were alone always looking out for obstacles. If you’re in a group of 10 or 20 that doesn’t mean you’re safe you still have to look out for yourself.
    The friends I’ve lost and the friends I’ve seen get hurt can only make me more aware of what is potentially dangerous to me on a motorcycle.
    Be safe, be aware and ride not only to enjoy yourself but to live to experience the next journey.

  17. Thanks Kent. I heard you had a serious non motorcycle related accident. I hope you are recovered and I’m glad to see your comment.

  18. Hey, I’ve crashed three times in the last twenty years. The first time I took a really long break from riding. I thought I was through. Time passed, and not riding hurt me more than the accident ever did. It tore apart my soul. I was not me anymore. So I brushed myself off as they say, and got back on the saddle.

    The next two times were only a matter of recovery and fixing the bike before getting back on. Mind you I now wear a helmet., because the last crash was at about 65 M.P.H. Yeah, I could have died that day, but I did not. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow too. Who knows. I choose to live. Riding is a part of living to me.

    I guess after riding for 20 of 38 years, I don’t know how not to ride. It would be like not breathing or eating. If it is in your heart and in your soul, it’s o.k. to take a break, but the ride will call you back like sirens to sailors.

  19. The original question is “Did you ever not enjoy riding?” My answer is yes. On a few occasions I have taken time off from riding. That’s okay, in my opinion. I have no regrets about it.

    On one or two occasions I have been on a road trip and had that “somebody just walked over my grave” feeling and have had to ride in spite of it. I agree with Mr. Motorcycle that the ride will call you back…and the analogy to sirens and sailors is absolutely true.


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